a. Europe's $1.50 Headache Is Italy's Migraine(Headline in Forbes.com today, article by Vidya Ram – the article is about the rising euro and its effect on Italian exporters.)
b. SOUTHERN AFRICA: Integration and the migrant migraine (Headline from IRIN, posted by Reuters today - the article is about how the flow of Zimbabwean migrants to neighboring countries is hindering the goal of Southern African regional integration.)
c. Saturday - slept badly Friday night, migraine by afternoon, pain at level 3 on left, moderate nausea, picked up boys from movies, pain at level 8 on return, both sides now, extreme light sensitivity, took Imitrex 7 pm, lay down, room dark. Can't read or look at computer screen. Vomiting on & off 3 hours, pain varied from 8 to 5, went to sleep around 10. Pain at a 3 on waking, tired, achy, depressed all day.
Okay, are you ready? Which one is the real migraine? You picked c, right? Good job! You get a gold star. a and b are known as frustrations, hassles, problems or perhaps international crises. They are not migraines.
Am I being too much of a stickler here? Maybe. Maybe not. There's a lot of real news about migraine in the news these days. Partly thanks to the New York Times Migraine Blog, or maybe our chance for some recognition and understanding has finally come. But most of us get annoyed by the trivialization of a very real and debilitating illness.
Interestingly, today the first 15 pages of results of a Google search on migraine are actually some kind of content about migraines. This was not so a few months ago, when I tried the same search and came up with many references like the two above, and one about a hockey team's poor performance being a “migraine” for the team manager.
I am willing to ascribe most of this to ignorance, not evil intention. I think it's become a fashion to refer to a big hassle as a "migraine" instead of just a "headache." However, it does distract public attention from the fact that this is a disease. A fact that most people still don't know.
Is it okay to say "what a headache?" If you've ever had a headache, you know what that means. Most people have had a headache, and know that tension can lead to one. So we call things that make us tense or upset "a headache." People also say "I just about had a stroke!" or "I just about had a heart attack!" I've been guilty of that myself. After a stroke hit someone very near and dear to me, I didn't feel like joking around about it any more.
This is in the category of being responsible for what comes out of our mouths. We create our world through language. We shape what is possible for ourselves and others. You only have to listen to political double-speak to understand that. Whoever gets to frame the issues tends to win the debate.
And so, maybe we can call a hassle a hassle and a crisis a crisis? It seems like in our culture we always have to go one better, to make things more extreme. If 10 years ago we called a hassle a headache, today we have to call it a migraine. What will we call it 10 years from now? A brain tumor?
- Megan Oltman
Somebody stop me before my head explodes!
cave waterfall courtesy of subflux; brain courtesy of Gaetan Lee
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