Managing Migraine Triggers: Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance
Concert venues are a hornet’s nest of migraine triggers. They’re hot and crowded, the music is loud and the lights are bright and flashing. Fellow concertgoers bathe in perfume or cologne and usually reek of cigarette smoke and sweat. Bands take the stage late and play well past the bedtimes of many migraineurs. All these factors add up to a neon sign blazing, “DANGER! DANGER! KEEP AWAY!”
It's a warning I choose to ignore. Getting stung by a migraine doesn’t counteract the joy and release I get from dancing to live music, which is one of my greatest pleasures. I don't go to shows often, but I float for days after I do.
Trigger management appears so simple: If something triggers a migraine, you don’t do it or smell it or eat it or look at it or listen to it. Reality is far more nuanced. Pinning down all your triggers can be nearly impossible. Not every exposure to a trigger results in an attack. Some triggers are unavoidable. Sometimes the very things we’re supposed to avoid are what we love the most.
Letting fear guide our decisions doesn’t keep the migraine attacks away, but it can sap our joy. Finding a balance between avoiding potential triggers and living our lives is a crucial part of managing the emotional tumult that's inherent in migraine. Everyone needs to follow their bliss sometimes, even if it means a migraine attack will follow (and even if requires drugging ourselves up to get out of the house in the first place).
I’m not advocating ignoring all your triggers, but choosing what matters most to you and being well-prepared for a possible migraine attack. Have abortive meds, water and your migraine emergency kit on hand. Bring a friend who can drive you home. If possible, make no commitments for the next day. Whatever planning and wrangling it takes, sometimes you just gotta dance.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?