A New Migraine Toolkit for a New Year
January inevitably brings a flurry of activity. We make resolutions, start new projects, and dive head first into tasks that have been languishing for months. While this is often great for our to-do lists and our self-confidence, it can wreak havoc on our bodies, especially when we have migraine disease. This year, harness some of that creative energy and can-do spirit to give yourself a gift you'll appreciate all year long (particularly once that new-year high begins to ebb): a migraine toolkit.
A migraine toolkit is a kind of emergency first-aid kit prepared especially for you. It should include abortive and rescue medications, non-medication items that reduce your symptoms, and anything else that makes you feel better in the midst of an attack. My kit, for example, includes a refillable ice pack, a pair of fingerless gloves, a box of green tea bags, a packet of crackers, a rub-on stick of peppermint and lavender oils, a lightweight satin eye mask, anti-nausea acupressure wrist bands, ginger gum, and a DVD of a TV show I love that has low lighting and no loud noises. Yours might include a light blanket, a freezable ice mask, juice boxes, a special pillow, a favorite magazine, and/or easy-to-eat foods.
If you already have a kit, take this time to look through it, removing any expired medications and/or anything that no longer works for you. Replace them with medications and items that do work. Consider adding a new comfort item or something extra to make you smile. Remember to replace any opened, used, or empty items as well!
Make sure your kit is placed somewhere you can easily locate it - even in the midst of a migraine attack (i.e. don't put it on the top shelf in your closet, if dizziness is one of your symptoms). Also make sure to tell your spouse, partner, roommate, sibling, best friend, neighbor, or oldest child where it is. Even better, let them know what's in it, and show them how each item can be used to make you feel better during an attack. That way, they know how to help you the next time you're suffering too badly to voice what you need.
Other things to consider when preparing your kit:
- Do you have enough of your favorite items to last through your longer attacks? If your longest attack is a few hours, this probably won't be a problem. If, however, you're like me and are often laid up in bed for a couple of days, make sure your kit can accommodate your needs. Pack multiple bottles of water, food packets, and medication tablets, if necessary.
- Is it light enough for you to carry easily, even when under an attack? A complete kit can quickly become large and unwieldy. Consider stashing it somewhere you won't have to lift it (such as under your bed) or breaking it into multiple bags if you're worried about your ability to lift it.
- Should you include something for anyone besides yourself? Do you have a regular caretaker who helps you out? If so, consider adding an extra bottle of water, snack, and magazine for them. Do you have young children whom you have to care for no matter how badly you're feeling? Include a new toy or a special activity book - something to keep them busy long enough for you to get some rest.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?