Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Types: The Big Event Migraine
I have this particular brand of migraine discomfort that pops up during major events for me where I have to speak or even just be “on” and working with large groups of people. One time years ago I made it through one conference without a migraine, but that amazing feat has gone unmatched in the four-plus years since. The conference migraine feels just like the Huge Bookshop Event Migraine or Have to Speak in Front of People Migraine. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just call it The Big Event Migraine.
The Big Event Migraine can be a slow builder, or it can appear seemingly out of nowhere once you’ve finally reached the point where you think to yourself, “Phew! I’m in the clear! No migraine for me today.”
For me, the seeds are sown starting at least a few hours before whatever the big event start time is. Even if I’m not physically running around like a wind-up toy, my brain sure is. This event is something I’ve been thinking about for days (if not weeks or, in the case of my wedding, years!). Chances are, I am more than a little concerned about getting a migraine during the event given my batting average over the last many years of my life. I have written about this many times before here on Migraine.com—this 2008 entry called “I can’t make it—I have a migraine” probably hits home the most for me, as it’s sad to read and sad to see that nothing much has changed in the last seven years since I wrote it.
The Big Event Migraine seems to lie in wait, eager for just the right time to emerge from a seemingly innocuous corner, cackling all the way. “You actually thought you’d get through this one without a migraine, didn’t you?” it laughs. “You were wrong! Here I am!”
The day before my wedding in Joshua Tree National Park, we did a rehearsal in the park at the ceremony site. I felt great. “The sun is right in your eyes, there,” our photographer (and friend) said to me. “Is that bothering you?” “Nope! I’m great,” I said, willfully ignoring the fact that this could be a migraine trigger for me. “Can we try moving you to where you’re both in the shade so the light is even in the photographs?” he asked. We moved and I immediately felt relief. Oops. Guess that sun in my eye wasn’t as innocent as I thought.
After the rehearsal, Jim and I went off with our photographer to do a photo shoot at various desert spots. Fast forward about an hour later. We’d been driving to various picturesque spots (which are plentiful in Joshua Tree), and I was in the backseat feeling pretty rough with a migraine that had attacked me rather swiftly. We had one more spot on our list to visit for really killer photos, and suddenly I just couldn’t hack it. I couldn’t pose and smile for photos when I had this migraine, and I was worried about the BBQ party we were supposed to show up for any minute. All these friends and family members from all over the country would be there, some of whom had just gotten into town that day. I’d have to be social and friendly and didn’t want to miss out on the shenanigans.
I told Jim and the photographer I wasn’t feeling good and needed to call it a day, even if that meant missing out on some really gorgeous photos. They were understanding, of course, and the photographer even talked about how the light was waning anyway so we probably weren’t missing out on good opportunities (this despite the fact that I know he really wanted those shots—he’s a nice guy). I popped my naratriptan pill and drank two bottles of water and even slept for about twenty minutes as we made our way out of the park and to the party.
Once at the party, I started to feel better, though I did call it a night pretty early. If I had told my dear friends and family I wasn’t feeling well, they would’ve been understanding and supportive and sweet. But migraine had already invited itself to my wedding weekend—I didn’t want to speak its name when there were so many other things to talk about, so much love to feel from these generous people who had come out to show their support for Jim and me.
For me, the Big Event Migraine is perhaps the one that makes me saddest in the most profound ways. I already hate that migraine whisks me out of my life from time to time when I want to be a relatively normal, healthy, and productive person. But when it dampens my mood or distracts me from what I’m hoping will be a wonderful, memorable, life event, I just get so heartbroken and frustrated. I usually make peace with my illness, but sometimes I just want to yell, “This is just not fair!”
How many of you suffer from The Big Event Migraine? Please tell me there are some tips and tricks you’ve learned or invented over the years to help you get through these (or avoid them all together). I know a lot of us in Migraine Land need to hear from you. If you don’t have a way to avoid the Big Event Migraine, I want to hear from you, too. This is a safe space where you can vent and tell your story to a community of people who really know where you’re coming from.