Home improvement, migraine style

When I first saw those bubblegum pink walls, I cringed. This room was going to be a guest bedroom. That bright pink HAD to go right away. The smaller room on the west side of the house had a neutral shade on the walls. Yet once I saw the walk-in closet with built-in shelves, I KNEW this was going to be my new office. Purple was the obvious choice. Between the two rooms, the dingy walls of the laundry room had certainly seen better days. Fresh paint was needed.

I love painting rooms and redecorating. It’s a pleasure I haven’t been able to indulge during all the years of renting. Now that this beautiful place is our forever home, I can’t resist personalizing it with a new coat of paint, polished woodwork, new shades and drapes, and a lot of personal touches.

After 15 long years, the paint supply box finally saw the light of day. Walls were patched and rough spots sanded smooth. Light switch, outlet, and air return covers were removed and the trim was covered with painter’s tape. Drop cloths covered the carpet. Before long, it was time to break out the paint rollers.

I’ve been at it for about a month now. The laundry room is bright and clean. My office is a beautiful shade of lavender with a gorgeous shade of grape in the closet where books, supplies, and file cabinet are stored. There isn’t a single trace of bubblegum pink in the guest bedroom. Now I’ve moved on to sprucing up the guest bathroom. Next up will be my husband’s office.

I’ve done it all without triggering a single migraine attack. Would you like to know my secrets?

Ventilation
Open a window or turn on a fan. This keeps fresh air flowing into the room. I also turned on the attic fan. It’s a luxury I didn’t expect, but love.

Masks
When sanding, wear a paper mask over your nose and mouth to keep out the fine particles of drywall dust.

Don’t skimp on quality
Buying high quality paint doesn’t just save on splatters and the need for multiple coats. It also dramatically cuts down on the paint fumes. For a DIY migraineur, that can mean the difference between a project finished on time and days spent in bed with ice packs instead of a paint roller on the walls.

Hydration
Make sure to have plenty of cold water available to stay hydrated and avoid getting overheated.

Breaks
Painting can be hard on the neck and shoulders. If muscle tension from awkward positions triggers migraine attacks, then taking breaks to stretch those seldom used muscles is essential.

Recovery
Take time to rest and recover between painting sessions. Take a hot shower, relax in a bubble bath, apply ice, heat, or TENS to sore muscles. Plan this recovery time into your project plan.

There was a time when I didn’t think I would ever be able to enjoy any hobbies again. Thankfully, with the help of great headache specialists and lots of tips from migraine friends, I can embrace some of my old joys. They just require more time and planning. By keeping expectations realistic and staying flexible, life can still bring joy.

Next up? Making homemade citronella candles for the deck in the empty paint cans!

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.

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