Pretending to be healthy
Learning how to identify and avoid triggers is one of the first lessons all migraineurs learn. We are given a long list of possible triggers and a calendar or log in which to record every single migraine attack. By the time most of us receive this information, migraine is effectively ruining our lives. We may have daily or near-daily attacks, complicated by medication overuse or untreated comorbidities. We’re desperate and willing to try just about anything.
So we write it all down, searching for clues and waiting for a pattern to emerge that will bring order to our chaotic pain. Most of us eventually discover dozens of possible triggers, confuse prodrome symptoms for triggers, and still deal with attacks that defy reason. We become hypervigilant, almost paranoid, watching for any signs of impending danger. With no shortage of possible triggers, just waking up each morning can be a risk.
Yet we keep at it. Slowly, many of us begin to see patterns that teach us what to avoid. We test these limits from time to time, only to be confronted with an unpleasant reminder that migraine is still in charge. We long to be carefree, to embrace life without fear of triggers.
We'd love to be healthy, even for just a day.
An opportunity for a few hours of “normal life” presented itself to me in mid-December in the form of an early Christmas present. My son works for a large movie theater company. Knowing that my husband and I are huge Star Wars fans, he presented us with tickets to a late-night showing of the new Star Wars movie on opening night.
He is such a thoughtful, generous kid!
At first, I hesitated to accept his gift because it meant staying up hours later than my normal bedtime – a guaranteed migraine attack waiting to happen. If I decided to go, I knew there would be risks. I worried that I would pay dearly for it the next day because change in sleep pattern is one of my biggest triggers. I worried that going to that late-night premier might ruin my chances to enjoy Christmas a week later.
But then I thought, “I lose too much to migraine already. I’m going for it.”
So for one night, I pretended to be healthy. I stayed out late, ate junk food, and enjoyed some quality time with my two favorite guys. I embraced this special Christmas gift with enthusiasm, reliving my childhood fantasy crush on Hans Solo and wishes for hair like Princess Leia. My dates (son and husband) looked a lot more like Luke Skywalker with their blond hair and fair skin.
Did I get hit with an attack?
Does it really matter?
In the end, we made a memory as family. Migraines come and go, but watching his middle-aged parents geek out over Star Wars was an experience our son will never forget. He will be telling that story to his grandkids one day. That’s the stuff that’s really important.
p.s. I did go prepared just in case. Theraspecs covered my eyes and my huge shoulder bag doubled as my migraine toolkit. I may pretend to be healthy for a night, but I’m not stupid. Leaving the house without my arsenal is bad mojo!
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?