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Last night’s migraine & how it went away

Written Aug. 14, 2015

Last night we (meaning my business, Avid Bookshop) had an insanely famous sci-fi author named John Scalzi in town for an event, and I knew it was going to be a Big Deal.  My nervousness and preparation began months ago, of course, but the real frenzy set in yesterday early morning. I composed long and instruction-filled emails to my event staff, making sure we had absolutely everything in line for that night’s event.  I ran errands and picked up gifts for the author and had our local copy shop do a rush job for flyers and such that I’d forgotten to get processed earlier.

Despite the frenetic nature of my day, so far, no aura and no hint of migraine.  Phew.

I practiced my introduction speech and wondered if I’d be delivering it to ten people or one hundred.  The usual background anxiety for an event host popped in: will anyone show up to this event?

Fast forward to 6:30pm.  The event was to start in thirty minutes, and absolutely everything was going smoothly.  I’d’ve been suspicious of the smoothness were I not so busy. We already had a ton of people at the venue and were selling books left and right. The author had arrived safely and was genial and funny, just as I’d expected him to be after reading his writing and Twitter feed.  My booksellers were rocking it, taking care of business and making sure everyone felt welcome. It was going so smoothly.

At 7:00pm, I dashed out to use the restroom. As the toilet flushed, my hands shot up to my ears involuntarily because the noise was too much to takeUh-oh, I thought, but tried to ignore the warning sign.  I quietly read over my introduction speech once more.  Usually I speak off the cuff, being totally familiar with the usual event intro rigamarole.  I was nervous last night, though, to be hosting such a big-name author to a crowd of people who were buzzing with anticipation, some of whom had driven hundreds of miles to be there.

After introducing Mr. Scalzi and setting the reading/event in motion, I retreated to the back of the venue to sit next to Jim, who’d come out to support me.  It wasn’t until he whispered to me, “I’m starving!” that I realized I was, too.  We snacked on the stuff I’d thought to buy in advance (go, me), but I still felt the migraine symptoms rolling in.  The media escort from Atlanta was a good five feet away from me, but suddenly his cologne seemed to be shot directly into my nose with a bow and arrow, whereas earlier that evening it was merely a light scent I noticed in passing.  My head felt like it was filling with heavy sand, and I had trouble concentrating here and there even though this author was beyond entertaining.

When the Q&A session ended, I announced to the crowd how we were setting up the signing line so that everyone could meet the author.  I spoke but didn’t feel my brain connecting to the words I was saying.  Am I making sense? I wondered.  Happily, people moved into the direction I’d asked, so apparently I had made just enough sense.

We sold more books and chatted with customers. I could see a little light blinking in my left eye.  When there were only a few people left in what had once been a very long, snaking line, I asked my bookseller W. if he’d mind if I left early due to migraine.  In his ever-positive fashion he said, “You go. We got this. Don’t worry. Go take care of yourself.” I waited until the room had emptied so I could say thanks and goodbye to John Scalzi, and then I promptly drove to a very unhealthy fast food restaurant to stave off my hunger. I felt for sure that the migraine freight train was about to run me down.

But guess what? When I got home, I immediately put on comfy clothes and pigged out on dinner—salty french fries and a cheeseburger—and started to feel better.  I had planned on climbing right into bed in the hopes of sleeping off the migraine without having to take meds (NOT what my doctor would’ve wanted, mind you—in theory, I should’ve taken my triptan meds immediately upon feeling the migraine approach). Instead, I felt so much more calm and in less discomfort once I was home and had eaten food at last.  I even ended up taking the garbage out so I could avoid waking at 7:00am in a panic to make sure we got it out before early morning Friday pickup. The carrying of the trash bags down to the driveway didn’t even exacerbate my head pain, which was dissipating rapidly (but still not gone).

When I awoke this morning, there were no signs of migraine. I was profoundly tired, but who knows if that’s migraine-related or merely a sign of how busy a day I had yesterday.

All this is to ask you this: have you ever been totally confused about whether you had a migraine or not?  For a good 2.5 hours, my symptoms matched my typical attack profile perfectly, but then the migraine pretty much went away before I even went to sleep. So was that a “real” migraine or something else entirely? Is it possible that a big, salty meal was the only medicine I needed yesterday?  I am so confused (but thankful I feel good today).  Any thoughts or stories of similar experiences are welcome. 

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.


  • Michelle
    4 years ago

    I’m always thankful when an attack fizzles out quickly like this. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Did you end up with fatigue after the attack? I still feel fatigue even after a super short attack. I wish they were all super short.

  • aero1
    4 years ago

    Although there are many possible explanations for this result, it makes me wonder if you’ve been evaluated for POTS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Chiari. All of these conditions, which may occur in any combination, cause headaches and can be helped by the salty meal. AND, they are usually misdiagnosed. Almost everyone who has any of them has had doctors tell them they have chronic migraines (with nothing else) and they are commonly misidentified by headache specialists. Also, and this is mainly true of Ehlers-Danlos and Chiari, a lot has been learned in the last 10 years and most doctors, who may be familiar with them as they were known 20 years ago, are not up to speed with what is known now. I speak from experience as someone who was told I had chronic migraine (and nothing else) by 4 neurologists (2 were headache specialists) and one neurosurgeon — only to learn I actually had Ehlers-Danlos and Chiari (which was aggravating or causing the headaches). Now, post-surgery for Chiari, my headaches are going away. I urge all who have chronic headaches to be evaluated by a neurosurgeon who specializes in Chiari or at the very least, research what Chiari is and looks like on MRIs and take a look for themselves at their own MRI. There’s much more to it than this but too long to write. I hate to see others go thru what I did. And I hope no one has these conditions who reads this!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Dear Desert Joe,

    To the best of my knowledge, I’ve not been evaluated for any of the conditions you mentioned. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback–I’ll bring this up at my next neurology appointment. In the meantime, I’m so pleased to hear you have finally found some relief.

    Take care; thanks again for your comments.

    -Janet G.

  • Candy
    4 years ago

    Migraine completely aside (for once), I adore John Scalzi and am beyond jealous that you got to meet him. You have a wonderful job and I would be hard pressed, given the choice of dream jobs, to choose between yours and mine ;). That being said, I have had this happen before. I’ve canceled a client because I didn’t want to drive a half hour to their home and be mid-training session only to become completely helpless with a migraine. That’s certainly not going to get their dog trained. Come to find out, all I needed was food, usually of a specific type. I often have a craving, but it’s not normal for it to wipe out the migraine.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago


    If I ever talk to John Scalzi again, I’ll tell him you said hello. He was even more affable and approachable than I had expected (and I expected him to be wonderful!).

    Sometimes I kick myself for canceling on plans because I’m sure a migraine is coming on and then it never sets in; other times I kick myself for not trusting my body’s signals and moving forward with plans even though I feel a migraine coming. It often feels like a lose-lose situation for me.

    Thanks for your comment; I hope you’re feeling well today.


  • blondejustice
    4 years ago

    This happens to me all the time. I can’t attribute the (seemingly) magically aborted attack to any common denominator, but it is a major factor in deciding whether or not to take one my month’s ration of meds and then suffer the the side effects of the meds. Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  • thisisendless
    4 years ago

    So if this is relevant, the woman who wrote Fighting the Migraine Epidemic, claims that a cheeseburger and fries has the exact amount of salt to potassium ratio to put the migraine brain back into balance and supposedly prevent or fix a migraine. I read the book but I can’t say I ever really got the hang of her “method.” I kind of figured that the book was another BS cure book, but I find that interesting that that is her “last resort” go to to rebalance her brain chemicals, and that is what worked for you.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Dear thisisendless,

    I hadn’t heard of that book before–I will have to check it out! One thing about being a human living a complicated life is that there are so many factors at play–unlike a rigorous medical study, I can’t isolate the migraine-related factors in my day to say what really made the attack disappear. Perhaps it was the salty food–a lot of folks seem to have stories wherein their migraines went away after such a meal. But maybe it was the release of stress, maybe it was getting rehydrated, maybe it was any number of factors. I do wonder!

    In any case, next time I won’t beat myself up if I resort to diner food when I am feeling bad. 🙂

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G.

  • Maureen
    4 years ago

    This has happened several times recently, and I have been attributing it to Topamax, the new preventative I have added to my regime. Whatever the reason, I’ll take averted migraine over full-on migraine any day.

  • Deb
    4 years ago

    Yes you are not alone. I have had this happen a few times. Now I try to remember to eat something every 4 hours. A little something. Salty def. Helped when a migraine approached a few times. Usually McDonald’s ff and soda to settle my stomach

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