HeadWise HeadWise: Volume 4, Issue 4 - Page 29

Seymour Diamond, MD Executive Chairman and Founder National Headache Foundation Director Emeritus and Founder Diamond Headache Clinic Chicago, IL Mary A. Franklin Director of Operations National Headache Foundation Chicago, IL IN HIS 1974 BOOK, CREATIVE MALADY, PICKERING DESCRIBES A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS WHO THRIVE CREATIVELY ALTHOUGH THEY ARE DEBILITATED BY CHRONIC ILLNESS. O ne of this group is the renowned biologist, Charles Darwin (1809 to 1882). Darwin persevered in his scientific writings although he was plagued by migraine since his early twenties. Reportedly, Darwin suffered a severe headache only a few days prior to his marriage to his cousin, Emma Wedgewood. He said that it was not the upcoming marriage that precipitated the headache but rather the actual nuptials, “As the excruciating moment drew close, Charles’ usual symptoms appeared.” He wrote to his fiancee, “My last two days in London, when I wanted to have most leisure, were rendered very uncomfortable by a bad headache, which continued two days and two nights, so that I doubted whether it ever meant to go and allow me to be married.” For those experiencing migraine, this scenario is truly believable. How often has a migraine attack appeared immediately before a stressful event, such as an exam or a significant ceremony (ie graduation)? For example, Charles Darwin was not able to attend his own father’s funeral because of a severe headache. The fear of an impending attack will impact a happy event, such as a child’s wedding. Many migraine sufferers will report that they made it through the event only to be sidelined later with a severe headache. Throughout Darwin’s adult life, he would experience a migraine attack that was triggered by a deviation in his normal routine. His family, including his wife and 10 children, learned to adapt to life with a migraineur – “a pall settled over his family. The children played in a depressed hush.” Seven of his children lived to adulthood, and three inherited his headaches – something he feared for them. Darwin described his migraines as his “hereditary weakness.” As we know, up to 70 percent of migraineurs will report a family history of similar headaches. Research continues into the identification of genomes associated www.headaches.org | National Headache Foundation 29