Those Sneaky Triggers

Even in a safe, controlled, migraineur-friendly environment, triggers can pop up.

Sunday was the first day I felt almost-good after a week and a half of migraines and back pain. I’d actually taken a few days off due to the bookshop’s being closed for a couple days during Christmas and due to my not feeling well, but on Sunday afternoon I felt ready to put in a couple hours of work.

I felt as if I were walking around on the lam, as if I had somehow escaped this awful week of illness. How did I suddenly feel almost good? How was it that my back wasn’t spasming with every step? How in the world did I get away without a migraine for the first time in days? It felt like I was getting away with something and might get caught any moment.

My co-worker and I met at my favorite local coffee shop to have a one-hour meeting to discuss a huge upcoming author event (we host a lot of people, from the super-famous and the not-yet-famous, at my bookstore—it’s pretty incredible). The coffee shop is just beautiful—a huge, open space with a lot of natural light, a hand-crafted bar, and a combination of tables and comfy chairs that invite you to settle in with a good book (or, in our case, a pair of laptops). No fluorescent lights anywhere, which is a blessing to this light-sensitive migraineur.

But sometimes natural light isn’t the answer, either. R. and I settled into a table toward the back of the café, at least 60 feet from the huge front windows next to the entrance. She sat facing the window, and I was grateful, as I have a hard time focusing on another person if (s)he is backlit so strongly.

Though I could see R. clearly and had my back completely to the bright light from outside, I wasn’t immune to all that sunshine. I wear glasses all the time these days, and the sunlight was barreling right into the café windows and bouncing off the inside of my glasses’ frames. It looked as if a little Tinkerbell were hovering in my periphery, dancing around as I spoke. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the blinding, dancing light was real and not part of a migraine aura.

Due to my having been sick the entire week leading up to this meeting, I was especially sensitive to environmental triggers. I felt the migraine making its way into my head and let R. know as much. We wrapped up the meeting as quickly as we could, and I packed up my computer and left. Thankfully, gulping down a big glass of water and doing some deep breathing actually put the migraine into remission—it’s as if it were coming on full-force and only retreated once I gave in and removed the trigger from my environment.

Have you ever had a trigger pop up unexpectedly? Were you able to get away from the trigger before a full-fledged migraine set in?

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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.

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