No vacation from migraines

Please allow me to take a moment to complain about my free time and my vacations.

“Oh, please,” you might already be saying. “Poor baby has a  few days off work, let’s feel bad for her.” (Okay, maybe I’m imagining a peanut gallery that’s a little harsher on me than you guys are. But let’s roll with it.)

Here’s why we frequent migraineurs might worry about our free time:  because we can’t count on it. We can never be sure that a migraine attack won’t come knocking at the door that first day of vacation, ready to keep us company the whole time we’re at the beach, or in the mountains, or just kickin’ it at our friends’ house.  Perhaps you’ve been relatively migraine-free for weeks, but somehow that stress “let-down” of finally being off work makes your migraine think it has an open invitation to show up and ruin your party.

I don’t take many non-work-related trips these days, but I can tell you that, in the last few years, I cannot recall one vacation that was not tainted in some way by my migraine disease.  There was the trip we took to Miami for my birthday a few years—I had a migraine nearly every day.  And then the month I spent in Buenos Aires a couple of years before opening Avid Bookshop:  I had many more days with migraine than without, despite having felt pretty good the months prior. Once, Jim and I went to visit his family in California and I had a migraine almost the whole time.  I vividly recall pulling into a public park to put my head between my legs before heading to a family party (I ended up having a fun, though muted, time).

I love traveling, and I love vacation. Even the most dire migraine episodes have not ruined any trips for me, and for that I am grateful (and I thank my undying optimism for that!). But I am just going to say it:  it sucks. It sucks that those of us with chronic pain and chronic illness don’t ever have the luxury of taking time off and simply knowing that, excluding unexpected crises, a vacation will allow us the time to relax and be pain- or illness-free.  When I plan my trips, I look at the time of year I’m traveling, the layovers (if applicable), the accommodations, the altitude, and more.  I do what I can to control my triggers but know that, if history is any indication, I am going on a trip but will never have a vacation from my migraines.

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