Savoring this healthy time while I can
Guess what? I’ve been feeling pretty good in the last few months, migraine-wise. Summertime is a notoriously difficult time for my migraine brain, but this year’s slightly cooler temperatures paired with my making a huge effort to stay hydrated seem to be helping immensely. I also started a new medication regimen before and during my period (stay tuned for a blog post about that!), so my menstrual-related migraine episodes have been at an all-time low.
I haven’t been following my own advice to record all my migraine symptoms in a “headache diary,” but I have been keeping track of my attacks and their severity on my phone’s calendar. As I look back over the calendar for April, May, June, and the first couple of weeks of July, there are very few days where I had a migraine. It is worth noting that I may have accidentally neglected to record a handful of migraine attacks, but even accounting for inadvertent omissions, I’m still much better off than where I’ve been in the same time frame the last few years.
Here’s the funny thing about this, though: I didn’t realize how much better my migraine health had been until a few days ago. Jim is a musician and was going to play a four-song set at one of our favorite bars. Before his show, we were heading to another performance. I grabbed my license, my debit card, keys, and earplugs and shoved them all into my pockets (I love being able to go out without carrying a purse!). I was about to leave the house when I realized what I was missing: my Imitrex and naproxen. I usually have a bag on me, and my bag always has a container of triptan pills (either sumatriptan/Imitrex or naratriptan), a handful of naproxen sodium tablets, and my magnesium spray. It wasn’t until I was going out of the house without a bag or purse that I realized I was missing my tried and true migraine emergency kit.
Perhaps it was ill-advised to do this, but I went out without the medication. I did stop for a moment in order to check in with how I was feeling. Any sign of migraine? Nope. Any tension headache or neck pain? Nope. Is my period about to be here? Nope. Did I eat well today? Moderately, but we were also going to grab dinner in a few minutes, so I was good on that front. I strolled out the door without my medication. It felt bold and risky, but it also felt good.
Let me clarify: I didn’t feel good about my decision because it was smart. No, any time I plan on leaving the house for more than two hours, I will continue my habit of always having migraine-specific treatment at the ready. The reason I felt good was that I hadn’t realized until that moment how well I’ve been doing the last few months.
I’ve been in this spot before—in a position where I was feeling really good, wondering if migraine disease was going to morph into a kinder version of itself, a version that visited only rarely instead of weekly and sometimes relentlessly. Migraine disease is chronic, meaning it ebbs and flows. For the majority of patients, it can be mild for awhile and then turn debilitating. There is no cure for migraine disease, and this [relatively] healthy period for me is just that: a period of time with an eventual end, not a forever.
And you know what? I’m okay with that. After 20+ years of living as a migraineur, I understand that migraine episodes are a part of my life. I am grateful to be in this particular time and space where my illness hasn’t taken hold, but I’m fully aware that it’s highly likely that I will someday enter again into a more serious period of migraine attacks—that could happen in a few weeks, and it could happen in a few months.
For now I’m going to savor this version of The Migraine Girl who gets just 2-4 migraines a month instead of 2-5 a week. I’m going to learn what I can from this, keep up whatever healthy habits I have forged, and do my best to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can.
Many of you have shared stories of what your life is like (or was like) when your migraine wasn’t a multi-weekly (or even constant) occurrence. Did you allow yourself to feel hopeful? Are you one of those who has maintained a migraine-free life? How are things different for you?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?