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How demoralizing it is to wake up with an unexpected migraine

Ugh. There’s something so totally demoralizing about waking up with a migraine, especially when I took steps the day and night before to lessen the risk of another day of this.

Yesterday* I did tai chi chih with my mom in the late morning, then we went out to lunch.  While we were at the restaurant, I started having hints of a migraine to come, but I thought, “No, that can’t be. Everything else is going fine, and I have a busy day ahead.” I decided I was imagining it.  The discomfort increased, however, and by the time my dad and I were out doing book deliveries for my bookshop business, I could tell the migraine was definitely on its way.  My sweet dad gets upset and protective when I tell him I’m sick, so I decided to keep the impending doom to myself. I took naratriptan when I got home and it didn’t work as fast as I wanted.  I put off work for the afternoon and decided to take a nap for an hour or so—I wanted to be in good shape for the evening.

You see, yesterday I had plans to hang out at a new board game café, The Rook & Pawn (I know—I’m nerdily excited about this, too!). I was going to buy a sandwich there and hang out with my sister and friends until it was time to head to the famous Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens, where one of the bands my husband leads was going to be playing a free show on the roof (how cool is that?). Turns out I kept dropping plans one plan at a time: first my afternoon work schedule, then my early evening out with friends, and finally the rock show. I just couldn’t swing it.

Some of my employees (who are friends of mine) were at Jim’s show and sent me pictures of him playing—he looked awesome, and I’m sure the band sounded awesome, too. My dad sent me a photo of the famous Georgia Theatre marquee, the band name “Los Cantares” lit up in lights. When I saw the photo, I was lying in bed by myself and felt a mixture of pride and sad isolation. I hated that I missed this show.

The naratriptan never really worked, so I ended up taking a pill out of my new prescription bottle: Tylenol 3, or Tylenol with codeine.  It calmed the pain down and made me sleepy, so that was good.  I comforted myself with the idea that when I awoke on Thursday, I’d be full of energy and feeling lots better after canceling plans the day before and taking good care of myself.

But no.  I woke up with a migraine worse than yesterday’s, and the sky is wet and overcast and my Thursday to-do list has ballooned out of control since I put off so many work tasks yesterday, assuming I’d feel better by today.  I’m sitting on the porch with my cat, drinking coffee and writing this article and trying not to have too much self-pity.  Ugh. I’m just annoyed with this whole situation and more than worried about how I’m going to get everything done today.  I took my second (and, per the instructions, final) dose of naratriptan for the week and am hoping it’ll kick in today.  It was my best shot for quick relief since I can’t take another brand of triptan until at least 24 hours after my last dose of the first brand, and I am not going to wait until mid-afternoon to treat this beast.

I know I’ve written about this before: how hard it is to wake up with a migraine when you thought you’d be home free.  But I thought it merited another post since I think about it a lot—namely every time it happens to me and every time I hear about a friend or community member who opens his or her eyes only to find that the beast has not been kept at bay as expected.

What are some of your coping skills? Can you remember a recent time when you were pretty confident you had a migraine-free day ahead only to wake up with another one?

*FYI, this was written at the end of summer 2015

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.


  • Auemerald
    3 years ago

    I am a chronic migraine sufferer, I can’t tell you what is best but I do identify with that wake up with one. I just had that happen Monday. Took my meds up to the max in 24 hours and lid on the couch dozing off and on.

    Recently though, I have begun Accupuncture I’ve only had 2 migraines in 4 weeks. A huge win for me, on top of Botox.

    3 years ago

    The worst type of migraine for me are those that wake me up in the morning. Sometimes I just lay in bed for several hours because it hurts too much to move or even open up my eyes. I can’t even get out of bed to get an ice pack.

    I also have discovered that if my migraine has improved somewhat during the night just the very act of getting up and moving around can bring it back on.

  • Katyb
    3 years ago

    Yes, thanks so much for this. I wake up with migraines nearly every day. It’s soooo frustrating when you just know you’ve done everything the night before to stop an attack from happening. Good night’s sleep, good nutrition, stress-free evening, great marriage, friends, kids, etc. And, you wake up with a banger………… UGH! I just can’t figure that out! I take Imitrex more than I should, but it works and I have to get on with my life and work. I get bi-annual blood tests done and liver function tests and I’m fine. I’m also 62 and have tried everything under the sun. I refuse to take Neurontin and all those “stupid pills” (they make you feel like you have a brain malfunction). I try lots of things – ice, heat, rest, teas, pills. My drug of choice for pain with my Imitrex is Fioricet because anything else has caused me to have internal bleeding (Aleve is the worst). I work in a cancer center and am privy to a lot of medical information and I know the damage anti-inflammatory drugs can do to someone my age. Stomach and colon bleeding is the most serious.
    I just did Botox again for the 3rd time and that doesn’t help, either. It’s just so maddening. This time of year is very, very tough on migraineurs.

  • DeAnn
    3 years ago

    Exactly what I was dealing with this morning. I was on my longest streak of headache free days in the past 7 months and woke up with a migraine today 🙁
    Busy holiday time, less sleep, rainy weather…. guess I should’ve known it would be coming sooner or later. I used Alsuma for the first time with good results.

  • RachelRoo
    3 years ago

    Thanks for this, I love how real it was. Medications when you needed it, even a rescue. Beyond talk of how good sleep and exercise and mindfulness can help, but what you do to try to deal when they don’t. It’s appreciated. I’m suffering myself today after having a few decent weeks so it is a bummer…stress and weird sleep and this chilly rain. Hoping everyone hangs in there.

  • labwhisperer
    3 years ago

    Well, I know I’m not alone. Going on 48 hours of migraine. Yesterday it got worse and today- not better. Have call into neurologist as I’ve used all the tools in my toolbox.
    I’m out of work today, just when I thought I could catch up. My vision is affected with this one. Not tired, can’t read, I’m totally demoralized.
    This is on top of my 3rd round of Botox. Ugh!

  • blueangel1980
    3 years ago

    Morning migraines are the bain of my existence. They ruin any plans of getting anything done. Demoralizing, and debilitating go hand in hand with these. So glad someone else understands.

  • Tanya
    3 years ago

    It seems that every time I make plans or there is something that I really want to get done, the migraine monster is there to give me a great big hug, with vice grips, on my head. Someday I’ll figure out how to release his grip and break free to do the things I want. Until then, his grip on my head is stronger than my will to release myself.

  • Constance Flowersong
    3 years ago

    Typically my migraines begin as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning but occasionally I begin to feel the pressure building early/mid-afternoon. Either way there are three different therapies that sometimes work for me: 1) Deep rhythmic breathing from the belly. It helps to be able to recline but can be done no matter where I am, even when driving the car; 2) An ice pack on the back of my neck and a heat pack on my feet (while reclining and deep breathing); 3) Inhaling a drop of peppermint oil on a tissue. If none of these help and the headache worsens then 100mg Sumatriptan taken with 500mg Naproxen is my preferred drug. This always works but only if I’m able to stop what I’m doing and relax. Hope this helps someone!

  • Luna
    3 years ago

    Migraine is unpredictable so in my experience there is no “thought you’d be home free.”

  • Luna
    3 years ago

    I function and mostly am productive but the beastie is still here hovering.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    I have been through periods like that, Luna. I hope you get to the point where you can have more migraine-free days! Thanks for your comment.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

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