Memorable migraines: Migraine week in Panama

For a few years, I worked for an editing company headquartered in Panama City, Panama.  As luck would have it, my best friend had the same job, so when it came time for an editors’ training session in Panama one summer, S. was there with me.

Having a good friend with you in a beautiful, faraway country is awesome. Having a good friend with you as you suffer through 8-hour days of PowerPoint presentations is awesome.  And having a good friend during one of the crappiest migraine weeks of your life is also awesome.

We were in an equatorial country in the summer heat during the rainy season.  Spending each weekday under fluorescents (when I couldn’t avoid them) plus plane travel plus the heat plus the daily rainstorms combined for a horrific week of migraines.

I had a migraine every single day of our training.  I muddled through thanks to medication, but during our only “free” afternoon (when a coworker took us on a tour of Panama City), the migraine was out of control.

Imagine being in the far-back-back of a small tourist van in 92-degree weather. Imagine that the driver of the van is convinced he is a race car driver. Imagine your head is throbbing.  Imagine that you are stuck in this position for 2.5 hours.  This was my worst migraine day of the trip.

Somehow I managed to enjoy the tour despite my pain and nausea, especially when we were able to get out of the van and get some fresh air.  By the time we got dropped off at our hotel in the early evening, I was down for the count.  I was starving but glassy-eyed, wild-haired, and nauseated. S. took one look at me and told me I was not to get out of bed.  Happily, as long as I sat still in bed reading, the nausea was kept at bay.

My friend went to our swanky hotel lobby, which featured a sushi restaurant (note: business travel is sometimes fancy!).  In a hybrid Spanish-Italian-English language she made up, she convinced the sushi chef to allow her to take a fully plated meal up to me in bed. I still remember that the chef had used toothpicks to help create a little tent of cellophane to wrap the food prettily.  The timing of the food delivery coincided with the time my second Imitrex pill finally kicked in, and for that reason I often think of that meal as one of the best I’ve ever had in my life.

Sadly, the next day I had a terrible migraine again—but it was better than the one the day before, at least! Thankfully, I had a good friend who made me stay in bed to take the morning off work. If it weren’t for S., I probably would’ve pushed myself to attend the workshops that day.

It’s funny to think back on this particular terrible week of migraines, because when I reflect on it my primary thoughts are positive. I have rarely been sicker, especially when traveling, but I had a really good time, learned a lot, and somehow maintained a positive outlook.

Do any of you have migraine memories like this, periods when your migraines were vicious but your life was happy? 

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