Migraine, a disease or severe allergic reaction due to environmental conditions, By: Farook Aman, Ottawa


Migraine, a disease or severe allergic reaction due to environmental conditions, By: Farook Aman, Ottawa


I have often wondered what impacts our human body, brain, limb, eye, ears, etc. The chemical composition that a human body is endowed with cannot be fully explained even by the medical experts. Hence, we witness doctors, scientists and other experts in various fields strive hard to achieve their respective goals to unravel the mistry of one ailment challenge or another. It takes time, patience, persistence and devotion to win a complicated outcome.

I am not a scientist nor do I claim to be a person with medical knowledge. However, I often take time to ponder about the creatures of god and the infinite knowledge of our creator. No doubt, creatures are feeble and  god is great and powerful, also merciful. The question at hand is how we may conduct life with or without the blessings of god. Whatever we do reflects on what, how and when our body, brain.. etc. will react. We may and may not find answers to what we aspire to achieve.

Any illness is often a puzzle to cure. Centuries ago, scientists and doctors and the experts operated on fields that they had no idea if they would succeed to gain the required results. Win or lose, they however are thanked for setting the ball rolling to what is now known as Research and Development (R& D).

Some were delighted to step into something they were not looking for; nevertheless the result of their research or findings became a lasting advantage to mankind. Encouraged by success, they found themselves on the path of a field far from what they initially set or aimed for. In the end, the result was successfully beneficial; they pursued the track of success.


The above modest introduction is far-flung from what I aim to achieve in this article which I entitled: Migraine, a disease or severe allergic reaction due to environmental conditions.   I will therefore attempt to detail my firsthand experience with Migraine sufferers. Most of those who I know who suffer from Migraine headaches happen to be more females than males.

Migraine is a debilitating headache pain which often seems to triumph on one side of the forehead while setting pressure on the eye too. Vision can become blur and any amount of light or otherwise become unbearable to yield. Noise / Sound may add to the headache trauma. This explains why most, if not all sufferers, incline to close the curtains and put off the lights and attempt to sleep it off in a darkened room or place. The migraine phenomenon can persist for hours and sometimes for a day or two, or in some cases even more.

Various situations of migraine sufferers

-One unlucky female individual first suffered from Migraine headache when she was a teenager. Prior to the female monthly cycle visitor arrived, she suffered from severe headache which would render her immobile for hours, perhaps more. Relief would comes when the cycle normalizes and becomes a regular cycle to its end. This happens to be the mother of children, God bless her.


-My friend Ahmed, who is a few years older than I am, visited Ottawa several times coming from the Middle East. He often alternated his accommodation at either the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa or at the Hilton Hotel at Lac Lemay, Gatineau, Quebec. Ahmed was in fact my Junior High School teacher, prior to studying in the United States. He graduated from the USA with a Master’s degree in Economics.  He was an individual who often suffered from Migraine headache. During one of his visits to Ottawa, he called to inform me that he was in town and wished to meet with me later on that afternoon. I did go to see him and rang his room phone from the Reception Desk. Ahmed would not answer. I was used to seeing him waiting for me at the lobby. Few minutes passed but it seemed like few hours. I thought of the worst; kidnapped, sudden heart attack, food poisoning, etc. I asked if I could go to the room since he was expecting me to pick him up. After knocking at the room door, he faintly answered.

“Go away… I can’t open the door,” a weak voice sounded from behind the door.

I asked if he was Ok, to which he replied that he was not feeling good and wished to be in bed and not to be disturbed.

I asked if the Reception Desk attendant could assist after explaining my brief talk with Ahmed. The Floor Manager had a spare key; together we went up to Ahmed’s room. Quietly, the Manager opened the door. The room curtains were drawn in; it was dark. It smelt of vomit, cloths scattered on the floor and Ahmed was in bed with a pillow on top of his head. He was fast asleep.  He did not react (or perhaps did not know) of our presence in the room. Not knowing what was wrong with Ahmed, I asked if we could call a doctor for him. The Manager wisely pointed out that they experienced few cases like that of Ahmed’s before. He believed that Ahmed suffered from Migraine headache.

“We do not want to disturb him for now,” the Manager sensibly recommended, “­

But the room smelt awful and I wanted someone to come and clean it to which the Manager advised otherwise, until Ahmed felt better and called for the cleaner himself.

Indeed, few hours later, Ahmed did call me at home and mentioned about the Migraine episode. He explained what he usually does when that happens…try to sleep it off.

I went to see him at the hotel and we had dinner together. He was normal as a normal person can be!

Indeed, he felt like smoking a cigar and we drove to the then famous Cigar smoke room at the Hilton Lac Lemay Hotel in Gatineau, Quebec where they cater for cigar smokers. The smoke room was equipped with state-of-the art soundless fans to suck the smoke out of the room. We stayed until after midnight and Ahmed felt much better, and happier that he had company with him in Ottawa.


-In the spring of 1996, I had an 8 weeks of chauffeur driven work assignment in France during which time I practically visited most of France. Our team mission base was at the city of Lille, where we came to know that the late President Charles de gaulle was born. Lille is about 3 hours away ( by the bullet train TGV) south of Paris.  A couple hundred Kilometers from Lille, we were in an industrial small town called, Dreau where my colleague, the Chief Engineer, (Dr. Wahab) was expected to carry out quality control inspection of equipment destined to the Middle East. I was examining the state-of-the-art packaging of the equipment per the specification. As we drove through the small city of Dreau, I noticed that it had strange looking trees that were continually shedding off small white looking flowers / leaves, the likes of which looked like snowflakes falling on the ground. I could not stand the sound of machines operating or the seemingly warm industrial environment. Suddenly, I felt heavy in the head and natural light was a challenge to keep my eyes opened.  I told my colleague (Dr. Wahab) that I did not feel good. The factory space, where we worked was not air-conditioned and the place felt warm and inhospitable. The Department Head brought me a cold drink and directed me to his office. But his office was not air-conditioned either. Dr. Wahab suggested that I should stay inside the car and run the AC. A shawl was given to me to cover my eyes. I felt sick to my stomach as I was heading to the parking lot. I sat in the back seat of the car for a moment before I hurriedly opened the door to throw up. I tried to sleep off the throbbing and head pounding pain which I never experienced before. It had no mercy on me.  I was scared stiff.

It must have been the white flower shedding tree that must have given me an allergic reaction. Once Dr. Wahab finished the assignment, we headed back to Lille stopping briefly at another small town for a passing inspection visit. The headache was persisting. I stayed in the residence room in Lille for a full day before I started to regain strength and began to operate normally. But I have never experienced Migraine headache in my life, nor was I ever diagnosed with one. I am glad I had the good company of my colleague, Dr. Wahab to assist.

-Corrine Sato, a Calgary-based resident wrote that she had Migraine headaches since she was 13 years old. It was only after she lay in bed in a cool, darkened room for a couple of days that she felt fine again. Corrine believed that work stress plus Calgary’s famous Chinooks warm winds (phenomenon) that might have caused extreme temperatures increases in just few hours, might have been the real culprits. Due to the weather shifts and other factors, the migraine headaches were frequent. Accordingly, she missed a fair amount of work time. She could not get out of bed during the attacks due to the debilitating pain and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Evidently, the relationship with her employer became strained; they questioned whether she was really sick and take days off when the weather was relatively nicer in winter!

Corrine wrote:


The stigma can be hurtful. You feel that people don’t believe you are suffering because the disorder is invisible and you look fine one day and knocked out the next.



Corrine is now in her late thirties. She started a face book migraine sufferers group to share stories and deal with migraine as a collective voice and supporting each other. Hence, she does not feel any longer that she is a lone

-This brief story is a personal experience with a migraine sufferer. When I was teaching at a language institute in Gatineau, Quebec, one of my students was a migraine sufferer. She could tell when the attack was imminent.  Low-pressure weather system conditions often triggered her migraine attack. I sympathized with her. She skillfully knew (before and after) how to deal with the migraine attack.

-One of my good friends, who lives in New Jersey, USA, was visiting a Middle Eastern city when he was offered by a sales woman in a shopping mall to sample perfume from a Tester bottle, which she held in her hand while flashing an attractive smile to prospective customers. He reluctantly agreed. The sales woman sprayed his hand and part of his shirt. After smelling the perfume, almost immediately, he started to experience headache pain which became worse by the minute. He continued to suffer severe headache pain for a couple more days before he started to feel better. He could not bear light nor could he operate normally. Thus he could not enjoy normal sleep as the pounding headache persisted before it eventually got better.


Conclusion:From the above episodes, we may conclude that environmental conditions, stress and weather conditions are perhaps primary contributors to migraine attacks. There are of course other factors that could possibly trigger a migraine attack. Some patients believe in self- administering Advil, Tylenol or Aspirin, etc. as soon as they sense the faintest signal of a migraine headache attack. This may help. In addition, most, if not all, migraine sufferers concur to the fact that sleeping it off in a darkened soundless room or place for a day or two is perhaps the most useful remedy / solution which may suit them best.


A short family vacation could easily be high-jacked and hence spoiled when one of the family members on vacation suffered from migraine headache attack or any other condition for that matter. Similarly, a student who prepared for months for an important examination may not be able to sit for the examination due to an unexpected migraine attack.  In addition, an individual who had hoped to show up for a job interview for a position that would  advance his life and that of his family’s would be crumbling, when he dejectedly misses a golden dream opportunity due to a migraine attack.

The examples are many and varied, but migraine sufferers know what they have and consequently know how to deal with it in the best way they can… Sleep it off no matter what!

For comment, please write to: farook_aman@rogers.com

Farook Aman
T:613 723 0999