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In my teens, I experienced migraines regularly. I went to a doctor at our local health center. I was advocating for myself, asking questions. He said, “It’s not a brain tumor.”

We both paused and looked at each other. I didn’t know what to say. One the worst of possible circumstances was ruled out, it seemed. Why, I had no idea. How could he be sure? I believed him because I wanted to, and he was right.

The rightness of his answer didn’t solve my problems. I got migraines, and his conjecture didn’t make them stop. I got migraines from bright light, flickering light, the sun, smells, dehydration, hunger, stress, and anxiety.

The migraines stopped when I was 23 and found I had another problem, an aneurysm. No tumor. An aneurysm.

I often keep quiet when others describe their difficulties with migraines. These types of headaches are complex. Like any health problem, they are unique to each person.

My migraine story is past tense. It’s uncomfortable to say, “I used to get migraines but don’t anymore” because I don’t have a great answer to the most common follow up question, “Oh, what made the migraines go away?”

When I suffered from migraines I wanted to hear real, concrete, and possibly useful things like “I dialed back my symptoms with the following protocol”. I guess I’d settle for a “It’s not a brain tumor” followed with some solid evidence and next steps.

In my case, the answer to “Oh, what made the migraines go away?” is:

“Uh, I tripped and fell, had a stroke, and discovered I had aneursym.” It is a dark answer. Dark for someone who’s grappling with health care practitioners who are telling them, “It’s not a brain tumor” and “We don’t know how to make this better”.

I will deliberate very carefully before I say, “I used to get migraines but don’t anymore” because I know what happens next. I might be asked, “Oh, what made the migraines go away?” I am especially if I am talking to someone with a child gets migraines or someone particularly vulnerable at the moment. I don’t want to be honest and say, “It was a result of another terrifying sounding medical condition.”

Because an aneurysm is usually something you don’t find out about until people are wondering why you are suddenly dead.