English 11 Notes for English Notes

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In Bed

- Joan Didion

Subject Matter: Migraine headache

Personal Example of the writer

About medical information for migraine

Migraine: [extremely bad headache] a recurrent, throbbing, very painful headache, often affecting one side of the head and sometimes accompanied by vomiting or by distinct warning signs including visual disturbances.

*Symptoms of Migraine Headache:

  • Headache is not continuous if it occurs it lasts long.
  • Migraine attack occurs almost four to five times in a month.
  • Flush (blush or redness) of blood in cerebral/brainy arteries/blood vessels.
  • Vision is not clear (temporarily blind)
  • Mild hallucinations / false sense perceptions / illusion / nightmare
  • Gastrointestinal / stomach / digestive / gastric disturbance
  • Overpowering fatigue/exhaustion, tiredness, weariness, weakness, lethargy, etc.
  • Aphasia/lack of language abilities
  • Chilling/sweating
  • Nausea/sickness of the stomach / the unsettling feeling in the stomach that accompanies the urge to vomit

Causes of Migraine Headache Attack:

  • Stress
  • Allergy
  • Fatigue
  • Abrupt Change in atmosphere
  • Flashing Light
  • Decrease of serotonin (neurotransmitter chemical) in blood

Difference of Headache and Migraine Headache:

Common Headache:

Aura: a distinctive sensation or visual disturbance that may signal the beginning of a migraine headache

Aura Period: the period in which symptoms are shown.

  • It has no symptoms in aura period
  • It’s not a disease and can be cured or treated
  • It’s not physiological (body’s internal processes)error
  • It’s not a hereditary error
  • Ordinary headache
  • It has no aura period
  • Pain killer works

Migraine Headache:

  • It has symptoms in aura period of 15 to 20 minutes
  • It’s a disease and can’t be cured
  • Migraine is a physiological error
  • Migraine headache is a hereditary error
  • Migraine is a chemical disturbance in serotonin hormone which is in the brain
  • It has an aura period
  • Pain killer doesn’t work

The writer has chills, sweating, nausea, debility / weakness in her migraine headache.

Non migraine patients think that the migraine patients are acting in the name of headache. They think that the headache can be cured by taking painkillers but in fact, no painkillers act for migraine headache.

Perfectionist: Person who does each work in his or her life perfectly.

Ironically, the writer has said that migraine headache attack gives a remedy of stress.

Summary of the essay “In Bed”:

The essay “In Bed” is an essay about the writer’s experiences with migraine. A migraine is a very painful headache. People who suffer from migraine can have attacks very often. The writer has migraine attacks three or four times every month. Sometimes, she even has five times in a month. If she is unable to take drugs in the aura period, she will be able to function perhaps one day in four. She has been a patient of migraine from her childhood. In the beginning, she used to be ashamed of accepting that she was a patient of migraine. She used to think that people would think that she had bad attitudes. But, later on, she came to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of migraine. It’s not a weakness of personality but it’s only a physiological error.

The basic difference between a common headache and migraine headache:

Migraines are not like common headaches. There are certain basic differences between the two. In other words, migraine headaches are different from common headache. To begin with, migraine headaches are inherited whereas common headaches are not. Thus, a common headache is not a disease but migraine is. Migraines have an aura period but common headaches do not have any. Common headache can be cured by taking painkillers but if migraine headache starts, no painkiller can work. But, it can be prevented if drugs are taken in the aura period. Migraines have different symptoms in different people but common headaches don’t have any symptoms. The writer is a patient of a migraine because both her grandmothers and both her parents had a migraine. Migraine is a physiological error but a common headache is not. Migraine is caused by a hormone called serotonin. When the amount of it in the blood falls sharply, migraine headache starts but a common headache does not have any such chemistry. Migraines are not cured. They can be prevented by taking drugs in the aura period. But, if once the actual headache starts, it goes on continuously for long hours. Such headaches are very strong and unpleasant.

What are the misconceptions about migraine by normal people?

The writer complains that people don’t take migraines seriously. There are some misconceptions about migraine, and the writer wants to correct them. Many people think that migraines are imaginary. They think that migraine patients make themselves ill by worrying too much. Some people even think that migraine patients do not take pain killers and do not try to get relief knowingly. All these are misconceptions. The reality is that migraine is not the result of any wrong thinking. Migraine headaches are severe and intolerable. No pain killer has any effect on the migraine headache. In this reference, she says that it’s good that her husband also is a patient of migraine. This helps them to have a good understanding.

Some doctors talk about migraine personality. This is a type of personality which makes migraines more likely. A migraine patient is likely to be a perfectionist. But, the writer thinks that all the perfectionists are not migraine patients. The writer herself is not a perfectionist but she’s a migraine patient. It is more important than the cause of migraine is biological. It’s passed from parents to their children.

What intellectual response does she have toward her own migraines?

Joan Didion has learned to live with migraine because she cannot avoid them. They begin when she is worried about something. She has developed a type of intellectual response towards migraine. When the migraine starts, she goes to bed and lets it happen. She does not fight against it. The migraine is painful but the pain helps her to get rid of all the other anxieties of life. They stop her worrying so much about the other problems of her life. When the migraine has finished, she feels better. She enjoys the beauty of nature and thinks how lucky she is because she did not die out of the migraine headache.

This essay has given the example of migraine as an obstacle in human life. As migraine has no cure, obstacles also cannot be prevented. As the writer makes migraine her friend, we should also try to make our every obstacle (that comes in our life) our friend. We should also try to live with obstacles and shouldn’t try to avoid it. Then, our obstacles wouldn’t be an obstacle anymore.

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