Let’s talk about migraines.
According to the American Migraine Foundation a whopping 36 million Americans (that’s about 12% of the population) suffer from migraine headaches. These debilitating headaches are 3 times more common in women than men. More severe and frequent attacks often result from fluctuations in estrogen levels. Any migraine sufferer will tell you that these are not your average headaches. Migraine can be disabling. The World Health Organizations lists migraine as one of the 20 most disabling illnesses on the planet. Ouch!
There are generally 3 phases of a migraine (as if the headache itself weren’t bad enough.)
• Food cravings
• Neck stiffness
• Uncontrollable yawning
• Debilitating pain on one or both sides of the head
• Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells
• Nausea and vomiting
• Blurred vision
• Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting
Afterwards is referred to as “postdrome” where the migraine sufferer often feels drained and washed out. Migraines can last anywhere from 4 hours to days on end.
Current Migraine Treatments are Inadequate
Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraine. Treatments are usually aimed at reducing the frequency of attacks or stopping individual headaches when they occur. However, side effects often limit the use of medications.
Jessyka's Migraines VS The Float Tank
About a month after I started working at Float Nashville, I arrived for my shift with all the signs of a developing migraine. A muscle spasm between my shoulder blades, difficulty finishing sentences and waves of nausea hit me right as I pulled up to the building. My particular brand of migraine feels like someone is pushing a white hot nail directly into the back of my eyeball and the pain renders me completely unable to do anything other than curl up in a ball and pray for it to end. This is not exactly conducive to a productive work day.
My migraine headaches started when I was about 17 years old and the pain, coupled with a slew of symptoms including disorientation, dizziness, blurred vision and severe nausea frightened me. After ruling out other possible causes of the headaches via MRI’s and blood work, I started down the long road of what I not-so-affectionately refer to as the medication-go-round. But no matter what kinds of medications, alternative therapies, diets and trigger avoidance methods I tried, the headaches remained and increased in frequency the older I got.
As I walked into the building, Amy asked how I was doing and I informed her that I was getting a migraine. “Why not jump in the tank and see if it helps? If you’re still hurting when you get out, you can go home.”
I was frustrated. One month into a job is not the time to start bailing on shifts. I entered the Open tank room and began my pre-float ritual. Earplugs, deep breathing, some light stretches and a long shower. I immersed myself into the tank and as I laid there I thought a lot about the toll these headaches were taking on my well being. In the tank, the pain between my shoulders and in my head seemed to be magnified momentarily. “Just go to sleep,” I kept telling myself. After awhile my body finally acquiesced and I was out cold.
The music came drifting into my tank and for a moment I remained completely still. The pain was gone. I was stunned but too afraid to move for fear that as soon as I did, it would come right back. After a few minutes I slowly sat up. The pain did not return. I exited the tank and moved my arms around, shrugging my shoulders, stretching my neck and enjoying every second of reprieve from the pain. As I began to realize that the migraine was 100% gone and possibly not coming back, I burst into tears. The feeling was indescribable but it was somewhere between the most powerful wave of relief I’ve ever experienced and absolute giddiness.
When I exited the room, Amy offered me some tea and asked how I felt. Overjoyed, I explained to her that my migraine was gone and this was the first time I had ever successfully managed to get rid of one. I was able to finish my shift and didn’t even have the normal exhaustion I experience after an attack.
After about a year of frequent floating, I’ve found a rhythm for my floats which essentially heads off any migraines I might experience. I no longer live in fear of the headaches and take solace in the knowledge that whenever I feel one creeping up the back of my skull, I have a tool that will stop it.