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Grateful for an understanding friend

Next to Jim and my family, my friend S. has been with me through more migraines than anyone else in my life. She’s very protective of me and very careful to make sure that I do what I need to do to make sure I am healthy, and with her I can be myself (even if I’m feeling like crap), because she understands. In college, even before I had a diagnosis, she would encourage me to go to more doctors until I figured out why I would sometimes pass out with one of my “headaches” at 4pm and not wake up again until the next morning. She gets angry when others cause me to undergo unnecessary stress, as she knows how susceptible to migraine I am when I’m feeling stressed out. In sum, she’s a great friend, my fierce defender, and an extremely understanding person.

S. lived overseas for more than a decade. I got to see her fairly frequently in spite of the distance, but I would get so look forward to every visit I’d end up getting a migraine right before or during our short hang-out time. She also has a knack for showing up right when my period is due (this has become a recurring joke), and regular readers of this blog know how I always get migraines during my period. Poor S. No matter how hard we try, I usually end up feeling puny during at least some of her visits.

Last month she and her husband visited Jim and me in Athens. They moved to the States in late 2013 and now are a five-hour drive away instead of a ten-hour journey that includes driving and flying. S. and B. arrived in the afternoon and we ended up having a really fun afternoon and evening. That night we ended up at a music venue watching some really amazing musicians. The lights were flashing, the place was crowded, and guess what? I didn’t get a migraine. I am not sure how I avoided it, but I was very grateful.

As I was thinking about how happy I was to be with Jim, S., and B., S. put her arm around me and whispered, “I’m so glad you feel good!” “How do you know?” I asked her. “I can always tell. The minute I see your face, I know if you’re having a migraine or not. Seriously. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see you this afternoon and know right away you didn’t have one. I can always tell.” This conversation was extra meaningful because she herself does not have migraine disease. It’s rare to find someone so understanding of chronic illness.

I’m really lucky to have several someones in my life who can take one look at me and know when I am “off,” when I am dealing with migraine. I’m especially lucky to have such a dear and wonderful friend who not only can tell immediately if I’m sick, one who will do whatever is necessary to make sure I am at my best. Do we need to scratch our fun plans for a night out so we can stay in side and chat on the couch instead? That’s no problem for S.

Do you have anyone in particular who is especially in-tune with you and your health? If not, do you think that there’s someone in your life who could fill that role if you opened up a little to him/her?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Janet
    5 years ago

    No I don’t…not a one 🙁


  • Calypso
    5 years ago

    I am pretty upfront with everyone about experiencing migraines. As a result, almost all of my co-workers are supportive. My friends, of course, doubly so. Without such a strong support system life would be much more difficult. I hope that by being so open about my chronic illness it increases understanding and compassion for all migraineurs (or at least for me!).

  • Sandy Parker
    5 years ago

    Only wish my non- migraine BFF’s would support me. They are tired of me saying “I have a headache”. Think I take to much medication ( prescribed by a neurologist headache specialist) and have said that I’ve become dependent. Geez, wonder how they would feel if they had one long headache for 12 yrs?

  • onehsancare
    5 years ago

    My husband has been incredibly supportive over 30 years as my migraines have gotten more frequent and often more intense, but my BFF goes above and beyond. Perfume is my most common trigger and she is relentless in protecting me from any exposure. We call her my canary (as in mineshaft) because she will check out the tables around our proposed table in a restaurant before we are seated to be sure it’s safe for me to sit and take off my mask. She guarded a door the other day to keep the perfumed air from a hotel lobby from entering the restaurant where I needed to eat a quick lunch before returning to court–actually telling people to go use the front door!

  • laalaa81
    5 years ago

    I’m lucky to have 2 amazing friends who know even over the phone if I’m having a bad day and an amazing man whom I love so much more for his compassion and consideration. I’ve had chronic daily migraine for a little over 3yrs now and meeting him 18mths ago has kept me sane. He understood from the beginning and has made a point of learning my triggers and physical signs. I’m eternally grateful for his love and support especially as he’s a non-sufferer and met me after my migraine began.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Janet- I know how you feel! I have a handful of friends who can tell by looking at me whether I’m in pain or not. It’s nice to not have to put on a brave face for them!

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