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Terrible situations to be stuck in with migraine – a hypothetical quandary

I live in a town famous for its college football scene. Now I’m not much of an athlete anymore, and I don’t really watch sports all that often. I tend to gravitate to towns like Athens more for their artsy, creative vibes more than their sporty ones, but I respect my friends’ passion for football even if I do try to steer clear of the tipsy throngs that crowd downtown Athens on game days.

Jim and I were walking downtown last night and saw “The Fur Bus” parked at the car wash. The driver was cleaning the bus inside and out, ready for a long and fun night of ferrying around partiers after the game. Hours later, the fully-loaded bus slowly drove past us as we walked downtown, the girls inside dancing as the lights flashed and music blasted.

“I do this weird thing sometimes,” I told Jim. No reaction (fair enough: I do weird things all the time and rarely feel the need to announce them to him—he’s used to me by now). “Like, just now? I thought about how crappy it would be to be on that bus in the middle of a migraine attack. I always observe situations in which it’d suck to have a migraine. Like being stuck on The Fur Bus with a terrible migraine.”

As soon as I told Jim this, I really realized how true it was. I always have migraine on the brain, even when I’m feeling well. I think back to camping trips taken over Christmas break years ago when I was in college. Sleeping in a tent on the hard ground in 32 degree weather? That’d be a crappy situation in which to have a migraine. Stuck in a rock club with no ride home right when a migraine hits? That’d be bad. Stuck in traffic, stuck standing on the sidelines in a July 4th parade, stuck on a blanket in an overcrowded park while New Year’s Eve fireworks go off loudly overhead, stuck in a job where you work under fluorescent lights all day. And on and on.

Whether you’re an episodic or chronic migraineur, I’m interested in what situations you think of. Am I the only one whose imagination runs away with her in this particular way?

Are there scenes you witness and think about to yourself so that you’re prompted to say, “Man, it’d be rough to be in THAT situation with a migraine”?

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.


  • Jamie
    7 years ago

    I have been in the situation of working under florecent lights and having one, I power through as much as I can but if it gets to the point where it gets into my jaw(I have TMJ as well) then I can’t my co-workers and boss are very understanding about my situation, the maintenance even goes so far as to make sure nothing they are about to use in my work area will aggravate a migraine,and yes I often find my mind wondering about this subject, unfortunately, I have found my self in most of the situations, family get togethers, at work, in a noise public place with no where to hid, at the mall……. the list goes on and on.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    7 years ago

    Hi Jamie,

    Have you tried any of the tinted glasses that are now available? TheraSpecs ( makes some glasses and Janet has written more on the lighting situation (

  • arden
    7 years ago

    How about being the Captain’s cook on a big vessel, having a monster migraine/hangover from too much partying the night before, hiding myself in a vacant bunk way down in some dark hold and then being found and ordered to come to cook breakfast for the Captain on pain of….nothing could match the pain I was in so I said absolutely not, go away. True story.

  • evon
    7 years ago

    I totally understand. The worst place I was in when a Migraine attacked was at a funeral home for my mom in laws funeral. I couldn’t let people know because it would look like I was trying to get sympathy for me instead of for the family.

  • Julie
    7 years ago

    I can relate to Migraine Girl. I’m always thinking of the next Migraine Attack if and when I get out of the last one, or if it dies down enough I can get out of the house long enough. But going to and from the doctors office I’m scared=-what if I get one then. Or planning a holiday w/the In-laws, which the stress involved in that alone can trigger one let alone being there w/them. But they for the most part are not considerate of my food triggers so I usually have to plan, cook and bring my own “safe” foods. But they go all out to cook safe foods for my husbands one and only food trigger of Gluten while my list is a mile long has many hidden sources-msg, nitrates, soy, tyramine-can’t list them all, plus the triggers for my IBS. They know, they don’t care. If I have the holiday dinners here there’s the stress of having to pass the “white glove” clean test but the past couple of years I got to the point I don’t give a rip and told them as much by saying my house isn’t on the Good Housekeeping cover nor do I plan to have it there so suck it up. Mother-out-law’s jaw dropped and I stifled a sinful giggle. Tee hee.

  • mpoli12
    7 years ago

    How about on an airplane, during a long flight, while sitting in the middle seat between two strangers? I always have migraine medicine with me, but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. The turbulence made the nausea worse. This happened to me a while back and I really thought I was going to go crazy. I was on the verge of hysteria. To this day, I don’t know how I survived it.

  • Garangwyn
    7 years ago

    My thought while reading this article was that most of these situations would trigger a migraine to begin with for me! I would have to avoid them in the first place! Not that it used to be that way, but it is now. Just a month or so ago I was at an outdoor birthday party for a good friend, and they had a live band…it was a typical decibel rating for a party with a band, not overly loud, and I was away from the band who was facing a different direction, but before I realized it (I was trying to block out the noise and hold a conversation with some friends) when suddenly I realized I was past the point of no return. Had I caught it sooner I could have escaped to the quiet of the house.

    I’ve learned to avoid any noisy or crowd situations, as a rule. Being an introvert, this isn’t really a problem for me. But it did cost me my job at the college I worked for — there are no positions that don’t involve a lot of public contact. It really sucked to have a migraine that measure a 7 or 8 on the scale, and have to try to be of service to staff and public day after day, week after week. If I didn’t have a migraine, I was getting over one…that was a rough situation. After a year I couldn’t handle it any more. Thank goodness I found a neurologist who also suffered from migraines (bad ones) instead of the first one I had, who told me basically she had them too, and I was going to have to learn to suck it up like she did…and that there was no difference in my job as a front lines reception person at a college, and her job as a neurologist who saw patients one-on-one all day (and who could reschedule when she needed to).

    here is another situation that I think would be really rough: If I lose my home due to being out of a job, and unable to pay my mortgage, and for some reason I lose the disability pay I am getting from my former employers (they were self-insured) — I could end up on the street, without health insurance (that currently costs me $900 a month) and therefore without meds. I shudder to think what the migraines would be like. My own precarious situation has caused me to think a lot about the homeless and what I might be able to do to help lately. I might not be able to work at a soup kitchen because of the noise, but perhaps there is something I can do from behind the scenes, at home (while I still have one) to help those who are less fortunate than I am.

  • Michelle
    7 years ago

    Yes I too have often thought of the “what if’s” situations. When my migraines first started getting worse, I was in school for Massage Therapy. Every weekend I would go to Columbus and stay with a good friend and her husband. One particular day a migraine started. By the end of the day I knew it was not going to go away. So I waited till it almost midnight before driving the long way home. Knowing that I wouldn’t pass too many cars in my over an hour drive. But I also knew I was going to have to go the ER. My friend begged me to stay and she would take me to an ER closer. The problem was my insurance I knew I would only have to pay $100 for the ER where I worked and if I went anywhere else I would have to pay more out of pocket.

    (sorry this is a long winded story)God love my father, he drove up to meet me at the ER. And after the migraine regimen of toradol for pain, phenergan for any nausea and a liter of fluid I felt much better. So my loving father drove me home. By this time it was close to 4am. So to keep himself awake he sang and whistled all the way home. The more he sang the more my migraine was coming back…. But I never once complained nor am I now. I was appreciative.

    So to answer your question again…. yes I do think about the what if’s. If I seen a bus load of screaming kids, as much as I love them, I too would be Thank the Lord I’m not with them with a migraine!!

  • inquisitivespirit
    7 years ago

    I kind of do that, except whenever someone tells me about something they did that would be a migraine trigger for me, I think about how I would feel after that. The main one is when a friend tells me how little sleep they got(happens frequently as we are in year 12)I imagine how I’d feel with that little sleep, which would generally be quite horrible.

  • mjsymonds
    7 years ago

    Stuck driving a van for two hours in the middle of summer with a road-kill skunk in the back–with a migraine. (This actually happened to me.)

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    7 years ago

    Oh MY! I have had a skunk outside my bedroom during a Migraine and that was horrible. I can’t even imagine something like this mjsymonds!!!

  • Shirley T
    7 years ago

    I, too, think of migraine most days. Years ago when I hiked in/out of the Grand Canyon (4 separate trips), migraine was at the foremost of my thoughts. Even though I had rescue medicine with me, I still realized how difficult it would be for me hiking out with a migraine or migraine hangover. Luckily, I was able to hike migraine-free. Still, no matter the time of day or place, thoughts of migraine are ever lurking in my head.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    7 years ago

    Good to hear you were able to see the Grand Canyon without a migraine. That must have been some experience.

  • pooh2you
    7 years ago

    I often think of “what if” situations. I have taken to driving myself when I go out with friends so that if a migraine hits I have a way out! My biggest situation would be having tickets to a big concert (like U2) and then a migraine hits!! Argh!!
    On a related note: my daughter and I often rate restaurants on “migraine friendliness” LOL top rating goes to low lighting and quiet atmosphere! Those are our favorite places.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    7 years ago

    That’s a great idea – rating area restaurants based on “migraine friendliness.” I might start doing that around here – thanks!

  • pamg
    7 years ago

    I can so relate Migraine Girl! Migraine is ALWAYS on my mind….how am i doing today, is a storm coming in and will that make my head super woozy, i need to lay down I’m feeling woozy etc…I also think of scenerios too but can’t recall them at the moment, as my brain is too fuzzy!!! 😛

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