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Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women

Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women
By KATHERINE ZOEPF

DAMASCUS, Syria — Enas al-Kaldi stops in the hallway of her Islamic school for girls and coaxes her 6-year-old schoolmate through a short recitation from the Koran.

“It’s true that they don’t understand what they are memorizing at this age, but we believe that the understanding comes when the Koran becomes part of you,” Ms. Kaldi, 16, said proudly.

In other corners of Damascus, women who identify one another by the distinctive way they tie their head scarves gather for meetings of an exclusive and secret Islamic women’s society known as the Qubaisiate.

At those meetings, participants say, they are tutored further in the faith and are even taught how to influence some of their well-connected fathers and husbands to accept a greater presence of Islam in public life.

These are the two faces of an Islamic revival for women in Syria, one that could add up to a potent challenge to this determinedly secular state. Though government officials vociferously deny it, Syria is becoming increasingly religious and its national identity is weakening. If Islam replaces that identity, it may undermine the unity of a society that is ruled by a Muslim religious minority, the Alawites, and includes many religious groups.

Syrian officials, who had front-row seats as Hezbollah dragged Lebanon into war, are painfully aware of the myriad ways that state authority can be undermined by increasingly powerful, and appealing, religious groups. Though Syria’s government supports Hezbollah, it has been taking steps to ensure that the phenomenon it helped to build in Lebanon does not come to haunt it at home.

In the past, said Muhammad al-Habash, a Syrian lawmaker who is also a Muslim cleric, “we were told that we had to leave Islam behind to find our futures.”

“But these days,” he said, “if you ask most people in Syria about their history, they will tell you, ‘My history is Islamic history.’ The younger generation are all reading the Koran.”

Women are in the vanguard. Though men across the Islamic world usually interpret Scripture and lead prayers, Syria, virtually alone in the Arab world, is seeing the resurrection of a centuries-old tradition of sheikhas, or women who are religious scholars. The growth of girls’ madrasas has outpaced those for boys, religious teachers here say.

There are no official statistics about precisely how many of the country’s 700 madrasas are for girls. But according to a survey of Islamic education in Syria published by the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, there are about 80 such madrasas in Damascus alone, serving more than 75,000 women and girls, and about half are affiliated with the Qubaisiate (pronounced koo-BAY-see-AHT).

For many years any kind of religious piety was viewed here with skepticism. But while men suspected of Islamist activity are frequently interrogated and jailed, subjecting women to such treatment would cause a public outcry that the government cannot risk. Women have taken advantage of their relatively greater freedom to form Islamic groups, becoming a deeply rooted and potentially subversive force to spread stricter and more conservative Islamic practices in their families and communities.

Since intelligence agents still monitor private gatherings that involve discussion of Islam, groups like the Qubaisiate often meet clandestinely, sometimes with women guarding the door to deter interlopers.

The group is named for its founder, a charismatic Syrian sheikha, Munira al-Qubaisi.

A wealthy woman in her 50’s living in Damascus, who has attended Qubaisiate meetings and who asked that her name not be used because she feared punishment, provided a rough description of the activities.

A girl thought to be serious about her faith may be invited by a relative or a school friend to go to a meeting, the woman said. There, a sheikha sits on a raised platform, addresses the assembled women on religious subjects and takes questions.

Qubaisiate members, the woman said, tie their head scarves so there is a puff of fabric under the chin, like a wattle. As girls and women progress in their study of Islam and gain stature within the group, the color of their scarves changes. New members wear white ones, usually with long khaki colored coats, she said. Later they graduate to wearing navy blue scarves with a navy coat. At the final stage the sheikha may grant them permission to cover themselves completely in black.

Hadeel, a Syrian woman in her early 20’s who asked to be identified only by her first name, described how her best childhood friend had become one of the Qubaisi “sisterhood” and encouraged her to follow suit.

“Rasha would call and say, ‘Today we’re going shopping,’ and that would be a secret code meaning that there was a lesson at 7:30,” Hadeel said. “I went three times, and it was amazing. They had all this expensive food, just for teenage girls, before the lesson. And they had fancy Mercedes cars to take you back home afterward.”

Hadeel said she had at first been astonished by the way the Qubaisiate, ostensibly a women’s prayer group, seemed to single out the daughters of wealthy and influential families and girls who were seen as potential leaders.

“They care about getting girls with big names, the powerful families,” Hadeel said. “In my case, they wanted me because I was a good student.”

Women speaking about the group asked that their names not be used because the group is technically illegal, though it seems the authorities are increasingly turning a blind eye.

“To be asked to join the Qubaisiate is very prestigious,” said Maan Abdul Salam, a women’s rights campaigner.

Mr. Abdul Salam explained that such secret Islamic prayer groups recruited women differently, depending on their social position. “They teach poor women how to humble themselves in front of their husbands and how to pray, but they’re teaching upper-class women how to influence politics,” he said.

The Islamic school where Ms. Kaldi, the 16-year-old tutor, studies has no overt political agenda. But it is a place where devotion to Islam, and an exploration of women’s place in it, flourishes.

The school, at the Zahra mosque in a western suburb of Damascus, is a cheerful, cozy place, with soft Oriental carpets layered underfoot and scores of little girls running around in their socks. Ms. Kaldi spends summers, vacations and some afternoons there, studying and helping younger children to memorize the Koran. Her work tutoring has made her an important figure in this world; many of the younger girls greet her shyly as they pass.

The school accepts girls as young as 5, who begin memorizing the Koran from the back, where the shortest verses are found. The youngest girls are being taught with the aid of hand gestures, games and treats.

The atmosphere is relaxed. The children share candy and snacks as they study, and the room hums with the sound of high-pitched voices reciting in unison. Several girls, preparing for the tests that will allow them to progress to higher-level classes, swing one-handed around the smooth columns that support the roof of the mosque, dreamily murmuring verses aloud to themselves.

After girls in the Zahra school have committed the Koran to memory, they are taught to recite the holy book with the prescribed rhythm and cadences, a process called tajweed, which usually takes at least several years of devoted study. Along the way they are taught the principles of Koranic reasoning.

It is this art of Koranic reasoning, Ms. Kaldi and her friends say, that most sets them apart from previous generations of Syrian Muslim women.

Fatima Ghayeh, 16, an aspiring graphic designer and Ms. Kaldi’s best friend, said she believed that “the older generation,” by which she meant women now in their late 20’s and their 30’s, too often allowed their fathers and husbands to dictate their faith to them.

They came of age before the Islamic revivalist movement that has swept Syria, she explained, and as a result many of them do not feel an intellectual ownership of Islamic teaching in the way that their younger sisters do.

“The older girls were told, ‘This is Islam, and so you should do this,’ ” Ms. Ghayeh said. “They feel that they can’t really ask questions.

“It’s because 10 years ago Syria was really closed, and there weren’t so many Islamic schools. But society has really changed. Today girls are saying, ‘We want to do something with Islam, and for Islam.’ We’re more active, and we ask questions.”

Ms. Ghayeh and Ms. Kaldi each remember with emotion the day, early in President Bashar al-Assad’s tenure, when he changed the law to allow the wearing of Islamic head scarves in public schools, a practice that was forbidden under his father, Hafez al-Assad. The current president, who took office in 2000, also reduced the hours that students must spend each week in classes where the ruling Baath Party’s ideology is taught, and began allowing soldiers to pray in mosques.

Those changes have been popular among Sunnis, who make up 70 percent of the country’s population, but they carry political risks for a government that has long been allergic to public displays of religious fervor.

The government has been eager to demonstrate in recent years, through changes like these and increasing references to Syria’s Islamic heritage in official speeches, that it does not fear Islam as such.

During the weeks of war between Israel and Hezbollah, the government frequently used references to the Islamic cause and to the “Lebanese resistance,” as Hezbollah is called in the Syrian state-controlled news media, to play to the feelings of Syrians and consolidate its support. But it is still deeply anxious about Islamic groups acting outside the apparatus of the state, and the threat that they may lose to state control.

The girls at the madrasa say that by plunging more deeply into their faith, they learn to understand their rights within Islam.

In upper-level courses at the Zahra school, the girls debate questions like whether a woman has the right to vote differently from her husband. The question is moot in Syria, one classmate joked, because President Assad inevitably wins elections by a miraculous 99 percent, just as his father did before him.

When the occasion arises, they say, they are able to reason from the Koran on an equal footing with men.

“People mistake tradition for religion,” Ms. Kaldi said. “Men are always saying, ‘Women can’t do that because of religion,’ when in fact it is only tradition. It’s important for us to study so that we will know the difference.”

On migraines

Scientists Cast Misery of Migraine in a New Light
By JANE E. BRODY

Correction Appended

Everything you thought you knew about migraine headaches — except that they are among the worst nonfatal afflictions of humankind — may be wrong. At least that’s what headache researchers now maintain. From long-maligned dietary triggers to the underlying cause of the headaches themselves, longstanding beliefs have been brought into question by recent studies.

As if that were not enough dogma to overturn, there is growing evidence that almost all so-called sinus headaches are really migraines. No wonder then that the plethora of sinus remedies on the market and the endless prescriptions for antibiotics have yielded so little relief for the millions of supposed sinus sufferers.

While these findings may not be an obvious cause for joy among the afflicted, the good news is that there are available many drugs that can either prevent migraine attacks in the frequently afflicted or abort the headaches once they start.

Knowing Where to Turn

Migraine therapy has come a long way in two decades, and those who know or suspect that they have migraines would be wise to see a neurologist or a headache specialist to obtain a proper diagnosis and the best treatment now available.

Surveys have indicated that only about half of “classic” migraine sufferers are reaping the benefits of what modern medicine offers. If those presumed to have sinus headaches are included, the numbers of underserved migraine sufferers could easily be doubled.

The World Health Organization ranks migraines among the most disabling ills. About 28 million Americans suffer from severe migraines that leave them temporarily unable to function at work, at home or at play. Many more millions have them in milder forms. All told they cost employers about $13 billion a year in lost productivity, with another $1 billion spent on medical care.

A migraine is more than a headache. The throbbing pain of a migraine, which typically occurs on one side of the head, is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. A person feels sick all over.

Symptoms may include nasal stuffiness, blurry vision, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, abnormal sensations of heat or cold, anxiety, depression, irritability and inability to concentrate.

Without effective treatment, those most severely affected are unable to cope with even the simplest tasks and must take to their beds until the attack ends. Afterward, people often feel tired, irritable, listless or depressed, though some feel unusually refreshed and energized.

About 4 percent of prepubescent children have migraines. After puberty, the incidence rises to 6 percent among men and 18 percent among women and gradually declines after age 40.

The higher rate among women is linked to fluctuations in blood levels of estrogen; the drop in estrogen just before menstruation sets off menstrual migraines, which tend to be more severe and longer lasting than other forms. I suffered from estrogen withdrawal migraines three times a month from age 11 until menopause. Each attack lasted three days. Pregnancy, when estrogen levels remain high, was my only respite until menopause ended the estrogen fluctuations.

Though long believed to be primary vascular headaches, the result of constriction then expansion of blood vessels in the head, migraines are now recognized to stem from neural changes in the brain and the release of neuroinflammatory peptides that in turn constrict blood vessels. The headache often begins before these vessels dilate. The inflammatory peptides sensitize nerve fibers that then respond to innocuous stimuli, like blood vessel pulses, causing the pain of migraine.

In some people, the headache is preceded by an aura of visual, sensory or motor symptoms that last for less than an hour. They include seeing flashing lights or specks, numbness in the hand, dizziness and an inability to speak. People who experience these have a doubled risk of cardiovascular diseases, according to findings published last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Migraines sometimes run in families, and these familial migraines have been traced thus far to mutations in either of two genes.

Although hard to mistake in their classic form, migraines can be — and apparently often are — misclassified as sinus or tension headaches, probably because they can cause nasal congestion, pressure or pain in the forehead or below the eyes, and discomfort on both sides of the face.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

In one study by Dr. Eric Eross of Scottsdale, Ariz., 90 of 100 people with self-diagnosed sinus headaches were found to have migraines. On average, they had seen more than four physicians for their headaches before getting the correct diagnosis and significant relief. Neither the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology nor the American Academy of Otolaryngology recognizes “sinus headache”; headaches only sometimes occur with sinus infections.

Migraine sufferers have long been cautioned to avoid certain foods believed to bring on attacks, especially chocolate, alcohol (red wine in particular) and aged cheese. But the evidence supporting this notion is meager. More common causes include stress (positive or negative), weather changes, estrogen withdrawal, fatigue and sleep disturbances (hence, perhaps, the association with alcohol, which can disrupt sleep), as well as overuse of over-the-counter pain medications.

Finding the Cause

To determine what may set off your headaches, keep a calendar to record occurrences, noting foods you ate or the circumstances preceding each one. If you are a woman of childbearing age, record the stages of your menstrual cycles. If necessary, to uncover foods that may cause your headaches, try an elimination diet, cutting sharply on various foods, then reintroducing them one at a time. This way, a friend discovered that her migraines were set off by corn and corn products.

Preventives and treatments are numerous. If one doesn’t work, try another. If your migraines are rare, using a drug in triptans class at the very onset of a headache can usually abort it or reduce its severity and duration. Frequent migraines are best treated preventively, with rescue medication — like a triptan or an opiate, perhaps combined with aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine to relieve a breakthrough headache.

Among the medications most effective as preventives are tricyclic antidepressants, beta blockers like propranolol and anti-epileptic drugs like gabapentin. Some people are helped by relaxation therapy, biofeedback or stress management. Several good studies have shown benefits from supplements of the B vitamin riboflavin (400 milligrams a day) or the herb butterbur (50 to 75 milligrams twice daily).

Perhaps most important in finding relief is seeing a doctor highly experienced in diagnosing and treating migraines. Too many people try to muddle through, sometimes causing more frequent migraines by overusing self-prescribed medications. Others may see a physician who fails to help and then conclude that their headaches are beyond help. Even if an expert was unable to help you years ago, there are now so many new therapies — and a far better understanding of the nature of migraines — that you’d be wise to try again.

Correction: Aug. 11, 2006

The Personal Health column in Science Times on Tuesday about treatments and prevention of migraines misidentified a drug sometimes used for headache relief with medications like a triptan or an opiate. It is acetaminophen, not amphetamine.

Where’s Mao? Chinese Revise History Books

Where’s Mao? Chinese Revise History Books
By JOSEPH KAHN

BEIJING, Aug. 31 — When high school students in Shanghai crack their history textbooks this fall they may be in for a surprise. The new standard world history text drops wars, dynasties and Communist revolutions in favor of colorful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs and globalization.

Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once — in a chapter on etiquette.

Nearly overnight the country’s most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950’s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today’s economic and political goals.

Supporters say the overhaul enlivens mandatory history courses for junior and senior high school students and better prepares them for life in the real world. The old textbooks, not unlike the ruling Communist Party, changed relatively little in the last quarter-century of market-oriented economic reforms. They were glaringly out of sync with realities students face outside the classroom. But critics say the textbooks trade one political agenda for another.

They do not so much rewrite history as diminish it. The one-party state, having largely abandoned its official ideology, prefers people to think more about the future than the past.

The new text focuses on ideas and buzzwords that dominate the state-run media and official discourse: economic growth, innovation, foreign trade, political stability, respect for diverse cultures and social harmony.

J. P. Morgan, Bill Gates, the New York Stock Exchange, the space shuttle and Japan’s bullet train are all highlighted. There is a lesson on how neckties became fashionable.

The French and Bolshevik Revolutions, once seen as turning points in world history, now get far less attention. Mao, the Long March, colonial oppression of China and the Rape of Nanjing are taught only in a compressed history curriculum in junior high.

“Our traditional version of history was focused on ideology and national identity,” said Zhu Xueqin, a historian at Shanghai University. “The new history is less ideological, and that suits the political goals of today.”

The changes are at least initially limited to Shanghai. That elite urban region has leeway to alter its curriculum and textbooks, and in the past it has introduced advances that the central government has instructed the rest of the country to follow.

But the textbooks have provoked a lively debate among historians ahead of their full-scale introduction in Shanghai in the fall term. Several Shanghai schools began using the texts experimentally in the last school year.

Many scholars said they did not regret leaving behind the Marxist perspective in history courses. It is still taught in required classes on politics. But some criticized what they saw as an effort to minimize history altogether. Chinese and world history in junior high have been compressed into two years from three, while the single year in senior high devoted to history now focuses on cultures, ideas and civilizations.

“The junior high textbook castrates history, while the senior high school textbook eliminates it entirely,” one Shanghai history teacher wrote in an online discussion. The teacher asked to remain anonymous because he was criticizing the education authorities.

Zhou Chunsheng, a professor at Shanghai Normal University and one of the lead authors of the new textbook series, said his purpose was to rescue history from its traditional emphasis on leaders and wars and to make people and societies the central theme.

“History does not belong to emperors or generals,” Mr. Zhou said in an interview. “It belongs to the people. It may take some time for others to accept this, naturally, but a similar process has long been under way in Europe and the United States.”

Mr. Zhou said the new textbooks followed the ideas of the French historian Fernand Braudel. Mr. Braudel advocated including culture, religion, social customs, economics and ideology into a new “total history.” That approach has been popular in many Western countries for more than half a century.

Mr. Braudel elevated history above the ideology of any nation. China has steadily moved away from its ruling ideology of Communism, but the Shanghai textbooks are the first to try examining it as a phenomenon rather than preaching it as the truth.

Socialism is still referred to as having a “glorious future.” But the concept is reduced to one of 52 chapters in the senior high school text. Revolutionary socialism gets less emphasis than the Industrial Revolution and the information revolution.

Students now study Mao — still officially revered as the founding father of modern China but no longer regularly promoted as an influence on policy — only in junior high. In the senior high school text, he is mentioned fleetingly as part of a lesson on the custom of lowering flags to half-staff at state funerals, like Mao’s in 1976.

Deng Xiaoping, who began China’s market-oriented reforms, appears in the junior and senior high school versions, with emphasis on his economic vision.

Gerald A. Postiglione, an associate professor of education at the University of Hong Kong, said mainland Chinese education authorities had searched for ways to make the school curriculum more relevant.

“The emphasis is on producing innovative thinking and preparing students for a global discourse,” he said. “It is natural that they would ask whether a history textbook that talks so much about Chinese suffering during the colonial era is really creating the kind of sophisticated talent they want for today’s Shanghai.”

That does not mean history and politics have been disentangled. Early this year a prominent Chinese historian, Yuan Weishi, wrote an essay that criticized Chinese textbooks for whitewashing the savagery of the Boxer Rebellion, the violent movement against foreigners in China at the beginning of the 20th century. He called for a more balanced analysis of what provoked foreign interventions at the time.

In response, the popular newspaper supplement Freezing Point, which carried his essay, was temporarily shut down and its editors were fired. When it reopened, Freezing Point ran an essay that rebuked Mr. Yuan, a warning that many historical topics remained too delicate to discuss in the popular media.

The Shanghai textbook revisions do not address many domestic and foreign concerns about the biased way Chinese schools teach recent history. Like the old textbooks, for example, the new ones play down historic errors or atrocities like the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the army crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989.

The junior high school textbook still uses boilerplate idioms to condemn Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930’s and includes little about Tokyo’s peaceful, democratic postwar development. It will do little to assuage Japanese concerns that Chinese imbibe hatred of Japan from a young age.

Yet over all, the reduction in time spent studying history and the inclusion of new topics, like culture and technology, mean that the content of the core Chinese history course has contracted sharply.

The new textbook leaves out some milestones of ancient history. Shanghai students will no longer learn that Qin Shihuang, who unified the country and became China’s first emperor, ordered a campaign to burn books and kill scholars, to wipe out intellectual resistance to his rule. The text bypasses well-known rebellions and coups that shook or toppled the Zhou, Sui, Tang and Ming dynasties.

It does not mention the resistance by Han Chinese, the country’s dominant ethnic group, to Kublai Khan’s invasion and the founding of the Mongol-controlled Yuan dynasty. Wen Tianxiang, a Han Chinese prime minister who became the country’s most transcendent symbol of loyalty and patriotism when he refused to serve the Mongol invaders, is also left out.

Some of those historic facts and personalities have been replaced with references to old customs and fashions, prompting some critics to say that history teaching has lost focus.

“Would you rather students remember the design of ancient robes, or that the Qin dynasty unified China in 221 B.C.?” one high school teacher quipped in an online forum for history experts.

Others speculated that the Shanghai textbooks reflected the political viewpoints of China’s top leaders, including Jiang Zemin, the former president and Communist Party chief, and his successor, Hu Jintao.

Mr. Jiang’s “Three Represents” slogan aimed to broaden the Communist Party’s mandate and dilute its traditional emphasis on class struggle. Mr. Hu coined the phrase “harmonious society,” which analysts say aims to persuade people to build a stable, prosperous, unified China under one-party rule.

The new textbooks de-emphasize dynastic change, peasant struggle, ethnic rivalry and war, some critics say, because the leadership does not want people thinking that such things matter a great deal. Officials prefer to create the impression that Chinese through the ages cared more about innovation, technology and trade relationships with the outside world.

Mr. Zhou, the Shanghai scholar who helped write the textbooks, says the new history does present a more harmonious image of China’s past. But he says the alterations “do not come from someone’s political slogan,” but rather reflect a sea change in thinking about what students need to know.

“The government has a big role in approving textbooks,” he said. “But the goal of our work is not politics. It is to make the study of history more mainstream and prepare our students for a new era.”

Date: 2006-09-02 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aquamizuko.livejournal.com
Hm, the migraine one make me wonder if the headaches I get around that time of the month (and random other times of the month as seems to be happening more), are really migraines. I get symptoms beforehand (fatigue), and the headache is almost always on the left side of my head, behind my eye, and they can make me nauseous and always light/sound sensitive. They aren't usually horrible headaches though, is there some pain threshold before they might be migraines? *ponders*

My brother suggested that I get cluster migraines like his but I dunno. *wonders what the best way to find out for sure would be, the only doctor she's seen is in a walk-in clinic*

Date: 2006-09-03 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leora.livejournal.com
That sounds like classical migraines. I'm not a doctor, and even if I were, I couldn't diagnose you from a distance. But it sounds exactly like what a migraine is.

I've had migraines for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed somewhere around age 3. I figure after I had the verbal skills to talk about my headaches and my parents had enough time to recognize the pattern and seek a diagnosis.

I can tell you that migraines can massively vary in severity. It's the severe ones that get the attention, and I'm glad of that. Too many people have severely debilitating migraines and people shrug it off, not understanding. Sometimes my migraines do force me to lie down in a dark room and do nothing but squirm in agony. They can be unspeakably awful. And people need to know that.

But they can also be mild. You can even have a full migraine and no head pain. It's not common, but a migraine is a cluster of symptoms, and not all of them are there all the time. I don't usually throw up when I get a migraine, but sometimes I do. It's just as much a migraine when I don't throw up. Likewise, I usually get severe head pain, but if I had all of the other symptoms, I'd know i had a migraine without a headache. So, you can certainly get a migraine with a less severe headache.

Date: 2006-09-02 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ironychan.livejournal.com
So next year I'll be able to say I know more Chinese history than any seventh-grader in Shanghai? Hooray for me.

Date: 2006-09-02 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aquamizuko.livejournal.com
Hm, the migraine one make me wonder if the headaches I get around that time of the month (and random other times of the month as seems to be happening more), are really migraines. I get symptoms beforehand (fatigue), and the headache is almost always on the left side of my head, behind my eye, and they can make me nauseous and always light/sound sensitive. They aren't usually horrible headaches though, is there some pain threshold before they might be migraines? *ponders*

My brother suggested that I get cluster migraines like his but I dunno. *wonders what the best way to find out for sure would be, the only doctor she's seen is in a walk-in clinic*

Date: 2006-09-03 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leora.livejournal.com
That sounds like classical migraines. I'm not a doctor, and even if I were, I couldn't diagnose you from a distance. But it sounds exactly like what a migraine is.

I've had migraines for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed somewhere around age 3. I figure after I had the verbal skills to talk about my headaches and my parents had enough time to recognize the pattern and seek a diagnosis.

I can tell you that migraines can massively vary in severity. It's the severe ones that get the attention, and I'm glad of that. Too many people have severely debilitating migraines and people shrug it off, not understanding. Sometimes my migraines do force me to lie down in a dark room and do nothing but squirm in agony. They can be unspeakably awful. And people need to know that.

But they can also be mild. You can even have a full migraine and no head pain. It's not common, but a migraine is a cluster of symptoms, and not all of them are there all the time. I don't usually throw up when I get a migraine, but sometimes I do. It's just as much a migraine when I don't throw up. Likewise, I usually get severe head pain, but if I had all of the other symptoms, I'd know i had a migraine without a headache. So, you can certainly get a migraine with a less severe headache.

Date: 2006-09-02 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ironychan.livejournal.com
So next year I'll be able to say I know more Chinese history than any seventh-grader in Shanghai? Hooray for me.

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