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Post-migraine triage

I was about to say that the transition from summer to fall 2014 hadn’t been easy on my migraine brain this year, but it might be more apt to say that the entire fall season was actually kind of rough.  I had lots of days affected by migraine, and I confess to not taking good care of myself much of the time, which weakened my defenses and increased the chances of more attacks.

It’s not like I don’t know better.  Heck, I’ve been writing about migraine for nearly a decade now, and I’ve dealt with this condition for over twenty years.  I know a thing or two about migraine and self-care, but I don’t always take my own advice.

In early and mid-November 2014, I had several days where I was about 20% as productive as I needed to be for work.  As you may know, I own and manage a bookshop, and this is the time of year when things start to get crazy, so it’s super-important for me to be as organized and prepared as possible for the amazing, fun, exhausting, exhilarating reality of working retail in the holiday season.  I just couldn’t get it together completely, though.  My booksellers, as always, went to bat for me, but I fell behind on some obligations and was forgetful enough that I had to be reminded by others that I had not paid a bill or purchased supplies we were running low on.  Yikes.

As fall came to a close, I started feeling better, migraine-wise.  I fell hard onto concrete in November, so my hip and back are another issue all together, but at least my head is clear.  I emerged from my migraine haze to find a to-do list long enough to wallpaper my house, or TP all the trees in my yard.  The to-do list was long, and I hadn’t even remembered to include everything on it!

And so began what I call Post-Migraine Triage:  I had to sort out my obligations to my business, my second job, to my family, to my partner, to my friends, and to my house.  Because of the time of year, Avid Bookshop obligations were (and continue to be—you didn’t think I was all caught up, did you?) at the top of the list. I printed up no fewer than 60 checks for monies owed (when you’re in the book world dealing with hundreds of publishers, there are lots of little bills to be paid and lots of records to maintain!).  I worked on event proposals, ran a staff meeting while migraining (thank goodness for an understanding staff!), met with publishers, did restock orders, ordered gift items, and more.  I got a LOT done during my migraine-free (and migraine-light) days, and I’m proud.

There are many things the Post-Migraine Triage system reserved for later. For a couple of weeks there, my house stayed totally messy, our empty garbage can stayed by the curb instead of being rolled back to the house, I skipped most of my exercise walks, and I gave friends rain checks on hanging out.  So far the world has not fallen apart, and I’m slowly catching up (while realizing over and over again that this race shall never be fully run).

What sort of post-migraine (or migraine-light) triage system do you use? How do you prioritize your to-do list? What happens when you just let things fall by the wayside?

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.


  • barb
    4 years ago

    I’ve been having a hard week and woke up this morning with the full kit-‘n-kaboodle. This is when I miss living across the country, far from friends and family, and although I know my coworkers and friends in town would help, I hate burdening them with my problems.

    I’ve ordered in Chinese food and have taken the day off work but even my normal joy of working has become draining lately. sigh…Time for an Austen movie and soup in a bit I’m trying to save my meds for work days but I don’t know if I can make it without today.

  • Victoria
    4 years ago

    I suggest that you throw away that Chinese food immediately unless you’re absolutely sure there is no monosodium glutamate (MSG) in it. Many migrainers crave foods that will trigger or aggravate their migraine symptoms. I know from experience and I hope you feel better soon.


  • Joxie
    4 years ago

    This winter has been horrific depending upon where you live. The barometric pressure has been like a yoyo. Every time the pressure drops the symptoms start. There does not appear to be a way to counter act the problem. It is easy to feel like a hypochondriac because only those of us who live with the exhausting pain of migraines can understand. I have a good friend who is a fellow sufferer. We call ourselves a “two-woman support group”. Make sure you have someone in your life who “gets it”. Migraines can be very lonely.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    I’m so glad to hear you have a close friend who gets it. Thanks for your comment.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Beth
    4 years ago

    I envy you, Joxie! I have a husband who tries to understand but he just doesn’t. I don’t have anyone I can really talk to about how I feel. And you’re right…this yoyo ride we call the weather is worse then a roller coaster!! After a migraine, I do my best to pick up where I can.

  • Tammy Rome
    4 years ago

    I have trouble with remembering what is on the list, so my husband and I keep a joint list. When I come out of a postdrome, we make time to review the list. He is much better at remembering where we left off. His gentle reminders help me stay on track. We’ve also come to accept that the list will never be finished. It’s a revolving process. When I realized that this is true even for healthy people, it was easier to avoid the post-attack self-blame.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    That’s a great idea, Tammy! -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

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