With chronic migraine, I often feel like I'm the intake nurse in an overcrowded emergency room. Each day, I assess tasks, requirements, and needs for urgency and importance. The ones that absolutely cannot wait, I deal with that day (unless it's a particularly bad migraine day and I can't even attend to critical matters). Everything else falls to the waiting list. Like in a busy ER, my to-do list is a never-ending queue. While every ER patient eventually gets seen (or leaves), most chores on my to do list will remain there indefinitely unless they somehow become urgent.
If media depictions are accurate, the vast majority of Americans are barraged with an onslaught of details to attend to each day and few people can keep up with everything coming their way. With chronic migraine, life's requirements don't stop, but you have to deal with them when you're pinned to the couch with your arms tied behind your back and tape over your mouth.
On bad migraine days, taking care of myself is not unlike the bare minimum of taking care of a dog: food, water, and potty breaks are mandatory. There are no walks or playing with toys. Going to the bathroom or moving from the bed to the couch only happen when extreme discomfort dictates it. Those daily tasks of life? Yeah, right.
Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more headache days a month, at least eight of which include a migraine attack. At the bare minimum, a chronic migraineur spends 25% of each month in a state that severely restricts their productivity. Many of us have considerably more than eight migraine days a month, a lot have them every single day.
Even the most efficient mental triage techniques can't keep the chronic migraineur's internal ER running smoothly. Instead of trying to manage the flood of endless tasks, I'm practicing letting it go by allowing myself leeway and not beating myself up when things don't get done. I've been surprised to discover that many of the tasks I've let fall by the wayside didn't matter all that much in the first place. I also take comfort in knowing that no one will bleed to death if I don't return an email.
Have you shared your migraine story with us yet?