Another day lost to a seemingly mild migraine

The second half of my day yesterday ended up being a lost day.  I had a fun morning with my mom, and then we went to eat at a great local restaurant and ventured across the street to our amazing public library, where we browsed for awhile.

When I got back home, I was grateful to notice that the Imitrex I had taken at lunch seemed to have kicked in.  More than half the time I take a triptan (when the drug works, which is true in at least 90% of attacks), I end up being able to function the rest of the day, even if my sails are at half-mast.  But yesterday I just couldn’t get it together.

I was achy and tired and canceled my late afternoon work meeting—thankfully, the people I was meeting with were relieved to have the meeting postponed due to their own crazy schedules, so I didn’t needlessly make myself feel guilty about that.  (Usually I have this whole routine I go through where I feel terrible for canceling meetings due to migraines even though I had no other choice and people are fine at handling cancellations.)

Jim got home from work and I was sprawled on the couch, laptop open, getting nothing of real value accomplished.  He, too, had felt like he’d already had a long day.  I announced, “I think I’m going to take a bath again!” (I had taken one last night.)  “Go for it,” he encouraged me, so I filled my new clawfoot tub with Epsom salts and hot water and climbed in.  The magnesium in the Epsom salts certainly made my body and head feel a little better, and I was careful not to make the water so hot I overheated. When I take hot baths, I also make sure to have a plastic bottle of cool water within reach so I stay hydrated.

The bath lured me into a sleepiness I could barely control, so I climbed out of the tub after about thirty minutes so I could avoid falling asleep in the bathtub (not a safe situation). I felt sleepy and relaxed the way I did as a kid during that magical, book-filled time between my bath and bedtime.  But it was only 4:30pm, and I had so much work to do.

Instead of even looking at my to-do list, I simply read my book and drifted in and out of sleep the rest of the day.  Today is a HUGE day for me at the bookshop (we have an extraordinarily famous author coming and so much prep work to finish), so yesterday I was supposed to be getting organized and making sure today wasn’t so insane I got yet another migraine.

But I just couldn’t mobilize.  My head pain was gone and I was so relieved to be free of head pain (even though my hip and back pain were still throbbing), and I was hopeful I’d get so much done as soon as the medication had worked its wonders.  But instead the prodrome took over, and my unshakable exhaustion and out-of-it-ness (I’m sure that’s a medical term, right?) made it impossible for me to be a functional person.

At 8:30pm, Jim roused me from my second long nap of the day and made me eat some dinner and stay awake for a few more hours so I wouldn’t completely screw up my sleep later that night.  Even a full hour after being awake and eating dinner, I was tired and groggy.

Whew.  That migraine really got to me yesterday despite the relative lack of head pain.  It’s days like that that make me frustrated when doctors insist on focusing on the severity of headache pain without thinking more about the impact this illness has on one’s life.

What do you do—what can you do—on migraine days when the non-pain parts of the illness are what render you non-functional, when the fatigue or nausea or dizziness make it impossible for you to accomplish that day’s goals? 

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

Comments

View Comments (16)
  • ClouGraff
    3 years ago

    I can totally relate. I also take Imitrex and while, if taken when my symptoms first start, it usually gets rid of the pain, it always makes my body feel very achy. Because of this I usually will try everything else first (peppermint, or M-grain essential oils, excedrin) but then I run the risk of a full blown migrain if those don’t work. And then nothing will help. :-(The Struggle is REAL)!

  • Shinetrue
    3 years ago

    I remember days like that – there is nothing really to do any different than the days you have severe migraine pain – your brain isn’t functioning any better. For awhile I had new videos on hand for this type of thing to entertain my kids. I was lucky I was able to resolve (and by resolve – I do maintenance prevention – I am not “cured” by any means) my migraines. Btw – Epsom salts are great for muscle soreness and detox but do nothing to raise your rbc levels of magnesium, I add magnesium flakes to my bath for that (I use Epsom salts too). 🙂

  • Eleanor R.
    3 years ago

    Please ignore my 8:43 post: I can’t find a way to edit or delete.

  • Sarah
    3 years ago

    That described my entire day this last Thursday! Only…it was the aftereffects of the migraine attack from the day before. I took my normal meds for it…it kicked in fairly well (and my manager, who was new to me, was great about everything…), but then I got home from work and just couldn’t stay awake. I woke briefly to eat…and then fell back asleep…waking from a rebound migraine…and took more meds. Thursday, I just couldn’t wake up. I barely stayed awake on the phone long enough to call in to work and let them know that I wouldn’t be there! Those are the days that I hate the most.

  • Hormones
    3 years ago

    Although I don’t have suggestions for you, I wanted you to know that I found comfort in reading your post. I call what I feel the day after a migraine & taking the triptan, a “migraine hangover” day. The following day I don’t have migraine pain, but my eyes feel punched in, my energy level is diminished, with an overall feeling of heaviness, tiredness and blah.

  • Heather Benton
    3 years ago

    I live in a state of ”Mom’s getting a migraine” ”Mom has full blow
    migraine” ”Mom’s feeling real hung over from the migraine” and REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT!! It’s a wonderful life…
    I have been on LTD for 10 years! I had horrible hormonal migraines(ended up with an early complete hysterectomy), I was missing more time then I worked, with 3 kids, a house, it was impossible to have any normal life at all.
    Giving up working was easier than all that have had to give up due to my Chronic Migraines, I also have Fibromylgia. I am basically totally dependent on my husband, he does everything and I totally hate it. I don’t drive any more, no more garden, flower beds, no more homemade baking, and I miss out on so much things in my family life.
    The pre headache can last for days, I have so many odd signs that I don’t want to go far as I just want to hide under a rock.
    I have speech issues, can be super sleepy or not sleep at all, I get really itchy enough to drive me crazy, yawning for hours…I could go on. The dizziness, visual issues, numbness of arms and legs, nausea and IBS!! Then the migraine will hit….which can rage from intense 10+ to I can get up and make a coffee at about pain level 7. The migraine with head pain can last up to 2 days to months(my best run was 48 days) Needless to say with one that long the Fibro muscle pain kicks in with intensity. Then we hit the hang over which is horrible, the hit by a truck feeling, fatigue, and the guilt of missing so many days of life often I am down frustrated and teary.
    Then we start all over again…IT IS NOT MUCH FUN!
    It is my life, and I can’t change it! I am still as frustrated now with dealing with my Migraines as I was over 30 years.
    I take the half ok days and enjoy it as much as I can, and the real bad days I stay in my very dark room with my cats and ice packs. My kids are great, they know when not to push me. My 2 boys have Migraines, and my oldest also has Fibro..heartbreaking to watch you children in such pain.

  • Ann
    3 years ago

    I just wanted to add that my doctor said I suffer from atypical migraines which are not easily treated. I never have pain. I suffer from ocular, neurological and abdominal migraines. When I had hormonal migraines every month prior to menopause, I was able to take a pain-killer and function. With these atypical migraines, there’s no functioning.

  • Eleanor R.
    3 years ago

    Sarah: I just wanted to warn you to be careful with that 800mg. of magnesium. I took 600mg. a day for several months (6 or 7), and developed such soft stools that I had to go off. I carefully chose my form of magnesium (malate, taurate, or glycinate) and kept on taking it b/c, while it didn’t help my migraines, it was a great bronchodilator, which I needed. It’s about 5 years later now, and some days I can tolerate 70 or 140 mg. of malate. But not often. Sure this is not true of everyone, but be careful.

  • Eleanor R.
    3 years ago

    Sarah: I just wanted to warn you to be careful with that 800mg. of magnesium. I took 600mg. a day for several months (6 or 7), and developed such soft stools that I had to go off. I carefully chose my form of magnesium (malate, taurate, glycinate) and kept on taking it b/c, which it didn’t help my migraines, it was a great bronchodilator, which I needed. It’s about 5 years later now, and some days I can tolerate 70 or 140 mg. of malate. But not often. Sure this is not true of everyone, but be careful.

  • Sarah
    3 years ago

    I also have atypical migraines, although I have pain with mine, which sometimes is treatable with meds and sometimes not, and I never know when it will be treatable or not. My neurologist has told me to take 800 mg of magnesium daily. He has found that that has been the most beneficial to his migraineurs over the years…so we’re playing with that right now, but my symptoms are varied and strange with the atypicals…leaving many people to doubt my word when I tell them what I’m suffering from, which can be frustrating. Fortunately, my work location is super supportive of me most of the time.

  • alissa_m
    3 years ago

    That’s me, yesterday and today. Yesterday, mild head pain, pretty bad nausea, basically slept the day away. Today, nausea gone, head pain almost gone, but foggy and no energy. Trying not to beat myself up for not getting things done. Nice (but also sorry) to hear others in the same boat…

  • Karen
    3 years ago

    These days concern me more than the pain-filled days. I own a small CPA firm, so attention to detail and accuracy are very important in my work life. On days where I know I am not “all there” I do things that don’t require as much thought or logic processes. And I triple-check my work. But one day a few months ago I felt fine: no obvious fogginess or other symptoms I have before or after an attack. But I made several mistakes doing something fairly straightforward. Now I give myself a little “test” several times throughout the day. I work a Sudoku puzzle on the internet. If I can solve it in a reasonable time period (less than 5 minutes), then I figure I am okay. If I can solve it in less than 7 1/2, I proceed as if I were having a “pre-migraine” day. If I can’t do it in that time frame, I figure I have no business working that day and will clean up my office, file, or just go home and rest. If it’s fairly early in the day, I will take things home in case I can think better later in the day.

  • Jess
    3 years ago

    This has been the most recent focus of my migraine management. I have the severe pain mostly under control but seems that regardless of the severity, the post-dromal sx or not as severe days are difficult. I take Cymbalta, CoQ10, magnesium and vitamin B supplements. On those less severe days, I do gentle yoga, deep breathing and meditation. I’ll try to sleep a little. And try to do mundane tasks that would normally just bore me if I can focus. I do try to move somehow, walking, yoga, brushing my big dog. And I must stay hydrated. That’s my plan.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    bluebird,

    I hope your specialist visit went well. I am working to accept “that the prodrome and postdrome are real and have to be respected,” as you so eloquently wrote. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Wise words, Jess. Thank you for your comment–I love your ideas. (Taking a swig of my water right now.)

    -Janet G.

  • bluebird
    3 years ago

    Yes. This is a most important part of coming to terms with chronic migraine for me. Accepting that the prodrome and postdrome are real and have to be respected. Sometimes, I push through but more oftenonly if it is Really necessary. I soooo wanted to go for a walk today in the sunshine. But with eyes half open and my inner voice saying not to drive I chose to rest instead. Self care …now. Deep listening. Off to see the specialist tomorrow. What will I agree to next?

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