Distressed woman tries to keep multiple plates spinning at once

Migraine Cycles: The Good, the BAD, & the Ugly (Part 2)

Last updated: December 2022

Everyone has bad days. As someone who lives with chronic conditions, including migraine disease, a bad day may look different for us. I have a few things that can cause a seemingly good day to start heading south pretty quickly. I’ve learned that little things add up. Having a pebble in your shoe for a couple of minutes is a nuisance, but if you let it stay there, it worsens as time passes. The most common things that affect me and many other migraine sufferers I have interacted with are stressors, changing weather patterns, sleep issues, and disruptions in our routines. I know many others impact our daily lives.

How does NDPH impact my daily life?

We all have different things that stress our bodies and minds. Living with chronic conditions like migraine, new daily persistent headaches (NDPH), and chronic pain are my main stress starters if you will. I awaken every day to NDPH. For me, this is stressful because It can mask some of the prodrome symptoms, and I’m never sure if it will escalate and trigger a migraine cycle. I try to focus on breathing for a few minutes before getting out of bed and starting my day.

What were my stressors at work?

When I was working, I felt like those people who spin plates on the dowels. I was an extreme multitasker. Chronic migraine stripped that away from me over time. It also took some forms of stress but gave me others. The cognitive issues from migraine cause me to concentrate on just one or two things now. I have tasks I need to do daily, but I must be mindful of how much stress these add to my spinning plates. Too much and they come crashing down, and a good day may turn sour.

What was my sleep hygiene like?

Sleep hygiene was never something I used to think about until I started experiencing migraines. Over time I have learned that finishing my day strong is as vital as the rest of my day. It takes planning and discipline to keep a stable sleep routine. Decompressing before trying to go to bed is critical for me now. I try to limit screen time and avoid watching anything that could keep my mind running after lying down. A hot shower relaxes me too! I listen to meditation tracks to help me sleep. I also suffer from insomnia, so even if I fall asleep, I usually don’t stay asleep for very long. Many others also suffer from sleep disorders, so I know I’m not alone. Having a stable sleep routine helps me ward off a bad day.

What does my routine look like?

I have become a creature of routines since migraine invaded my life. I still have obligations to keep each day. I help out around the house as I’m able. I stick as close to my routine as possible because I have found that if I deviate too far from it, things can get bad quickly. I have to prepare myself for changes now mentally. Any time I can control potential migraine traps, I will. Little things can cause a good day to deteriorate, and that’s not what anyone wants. My routine includes pain. On good days I sit between 3 and 5, bad days are from 6 to 8, and my ugly days are 9 and beyond. A good routine and management strategy help, but it never eliminates an attack from ramping up.

Does the weather trigger an attack?

Weather, for many of us, is a trigger. My worst offenders are fluctuations in barometric pressure, humidity, and heat indexes. I take medication for the pressure changes, which helps some, but all I can do for the moisture and heat is stay inside. I have some control over that area. There are earplugs like WeatherX Earplugs that may help also, but the weather remains a challenge. Again, even minor variations can add up and take a potentially good day into an ominous realm for many of us.

What makes for a bad migraine day?

What makes for a bad migraine day is different for each of us — waking up with an attack in progress, starting your day and seeing an aura forming, sensing that twinge of pain, or starting your day with a heaping pile of stress. It all can deliver us a bad day. We are resilient, adaptable, and stubbornly persistent people. We make lemonade from life’s lemons all the time! We lean on each other and support teams if we have them. We always survive and move forward. We are strong. We may live with migraine disease, but it is not who we are!

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