Living with Migraine
Migraine is a neurological disorder that is often socially underrated, as it mostly gets confused with the common and occasional headache. As a consequence who suffers from migraine has often to deal with the stress of lack of others understanding.
Living with migraine implies cyclic phases of severe disturbances which lead to the inability to accomplish the most basic duties.
Mere suffers from chronic migraine which is a complication of classified migraines. It includes the cluster or suicide headache, which is characterized by exceptionally painful symptoms.
She estimates that for more than 110 days in a year she’s called to fight her disease as she can, omitting any other task of her personal, social and working life. Often the impossibility to have a full time treatment through the official channels of care forces Mere to an uncontrolled use of medicines, resulting in frequent intoxications.
One important presence in Mere’s life is her elderly father, who in his turn needs to be looked after. Her dedication to him is extraordinary even though, due to migraine, she’s not able to accomplish all the required tasks on a continuous basis.
Migraine has been started to be thoroughly studied and classified since the mid of the 80 only, and, in most countries therapies and patients are not adequately supported by the national health service. For instance, in Italy, where Mere lives, there are an estimated one million of cluster migraine patients (source: SISC Società italiana per lo studio delle cefalee – the Italian Headache Society ) . Nevertheless migraine is not even mentioned in the essential levels of care ( namely the services that the NHS must provide to the whole population, free of charge or with a partial contribution towards the cost ). As a result, patients are often left abandoned to their pain or with no satisfactory treatment.
Only recently a network of specialized headache and neurosurgical centers has started to spread over the national territory.
UPDATE (2014-18): A couple of years ago Mere’s doctors speculated if she could be affected by patent foramen ovale (PFO), a condition of the heart that normally causes no problems and remains undetected throughout life, but in some migraine patients it can be actually the trigger of most attacks. Clinical studies confirmed PFO for Mere and she underwent an endoscopic minimally invasive heart surgery that permanently solved her PFO.
Since then, Mere’s attacks dropped drastically, from 100 a year to just 10. The huge improvement encouraged Mere to realize the dream of her life, painting. So, to finally answer your question, I am now documenting her new life as a watercolor painter, beside professional assignments and other documentary projects.