I’ve heard that exercising is another way to help us manage our Migraines, but sometimes the thought of just walking makes it hard to imagine doing anything active. My friends ‘made’ me get started again by not listening to me and enticing me with activities that I have always enjoyed playing.
Exertion triggered Migraines have been a problem for me for some time. About three years ago, I finally took a leave from the two sports I was still playing because of exertion or light triggered Migraines. I missed my sports and the camaraderie from these friends.
I did manage to play a couple of volleyball games last winter, but even with wearing a hat, the gym lights would always trigger a Migraine and I had never missed so many games before in any season or with any sport. There was even one game where the volleyball seemed to grow these funny wings as it flew over the net. I always felt like I was letting my team down by missing so many games.
After not playing for a couple of years, this past summer I decided to officially hang up my cleats and not play softball again. Luckily, my friends weren't as willing to give up on me as I was. They put me on the roster anyway and told me it would be great if I could play but if I couldn't, they would totally understand.
I currently take Botox as my main Migraine preventative and I get the most relief in the middle month of the every three month treatments. My softball team had some preseason practices this year. Since these practices were in the middle month of treatments and if I was ever going to play this season, I decided to practice with my team particularly since it had been some time since I last played.
After two practices, I tried to tell my captain that I wouldn't be able to play this year. She still wouldn't hear of it and repeated that if I could play great and if not that was alright too. These practices were in the middle of summer days. While in the field, I couldn't tell if I was fighting off real bugs or my own personal bugs that nobody else could see; I knew it was a Migraine aura breaking through. When it was my turn to bat, it didn’t get any better especially since during practice, you keep batting away and this can give you a pretty good workout.
I ended up not going to any games in the first half of the season. The Botox wore off and my new treatment took a little while to kick back in. After half the season had passed, I decided to give it the old college try again. Our games were at night and therefore, under the bright lights. I wear a hat which I can usually use to block the direct light. I also decided I would try the catcher position which I had never played before. I’ve always played the hot corner, third base, but I was not in the proper shape to play there this year especially with slowed reflexes.
Catcher ended up being a good choice for a couple of reasons. I didn't have the same exertion that I had in the field and the lights are very different from this position. The face mask and batter's cage added some protection from the lights plus it has a really good view of everything that is happening on the field. The dynamics of my team had drastically changed since the last time I played too. About 25% of my team was now 18-20 year olds and had college ball experience!
The compromises I made helped me to enjoy a season and a game I was ready to give up on. I also realized that I needed to start a regular exercise regimen since I was terribly out of shape.
I ended up breaking out and dusting off one of those TV fitness game systems. It really didn't start out well from the time I stepped on it not because of my Migraines, but this game had the nerve to tell me it had been 1263 days since I last worked out and that I had gained tons of weight!
These workouts have really not been that bad on my head. I feel like I am getting a good workout for me and that I can pace myself while the program keeps track of my progress.
My balance is improving, the exercise is helping me to manage my stress better and most of all, I don't feel like I am stress eating as much as before. It's a little early to tell if it is helping with my Migraines, but I feel better overall.
This is a start and I have a long way to go, but it is nice to be active and getting out with friends again when I can. The new winter volleyball season has just started and so far it's been working out a little better this year.
Have you been exercising or just getting started again? How have you motivated yourself to continue or get back into a routine? How do you manage through your Migraines to keep it up? Do you have the support of your friends or family?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?