It happened when she was only seven years old, an age that is usually remembered as carefree by most adults in Australia.
“I ended up in the hospital with that one and throwing up all over doctors,” Jenna says, vividly remembering her first severe attack.
Throughout pretty much all of high school, she had to live with migraine. She had to push herself through it and take painkillers nearly daily. At the age of 12, she started to take migraine preventatives.
“I just lived life as I could”
While the teenage years are usually exciting and packed with social events, due to her migraine, Jenna had to say no to most social activities - the pain was just too draining.
“Growing up, I’ve always been in constant pain, so for me, there was nothing different. I didn’t go out very often because I was in too much pain, or I was throwing up a lot. I just lived life as I could,” she elaborates.
Despite symptoms ranging from severe headaches to light sensitivity (photophobia) and vomiting every 20 minutes, Jenna experienced a lot of discrimination at school from teachers and friends who did not understand.
“I didn't socialize as much as I wish I could have. I wasn't invited out to a lot of activities with school friends because they knew I would be in pain. I also didn’t get a lot of help from my teachers with extensions on homework or assignments. I was expected to do the work as everyone else did,” she says.
On some days, her eyes were so sore from a migraine attack that she had to wear sunglasses inside. However, her teachers told her to take off the sunglasses and just deal with the bright lights. Sometimes, she would need to leave in the middle of class to go and throw up, but teachers wouldn’t believe her, so a couple of times she threw up in the classroom. Her requests for special consideration and extra help were ignored, however, she managed to finish school.
“I just kept going,” Jenna puts forth.