Life With Migraine in the Coronavirus World
The coronavirus is impacting those of us who live with migraine in some unique ways. With stress being a primary trigger of migraine, the worry related to the coronavirus may end up increasing the frequency of our attacks.
As headache is a well-known symptom of the virus, are you concerned about what’s to come?
These concerns aside, is it possible that our lives with migraine have done a lot to prepare us for the logistical challenges related to the coronavirus?
Stress & lack of sleep
Many migraineurs list stress as one of their primary triggers for attacks. And, well, the stress can’t get much higher than it is at the moment. Between the extreme amount of unknowns and the grim statistics that worsen every day, the stress is fairly extreme. I have been having a hard time getting a solid night’s sleep. And lack of, or inconsistent, sleep is yet another trigger for many of us.
If we are experienced migraineurs, we hopefully have strategies we can employ to handle stressful times. It’s important that we are mindful to set aside time right now (away from the TV and news) to practice those strategies that work best for us each day- whether it be deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, taking walks in nature, etc...
Social distancing isn’t new to us
For those of us already disabled by chronic migraine, the idea of social distancing is not a new concept. We’ve likely already organized our lives to support such an existence. We have probably already minimized the need for frequent outings into the world. We may have already stocked up on essential items in order to keep ourselves from having to venture into the world when we are ill with a migraine.
On the social front, we do our best to set healthy expectations of our social circles so that they understand what we can and can’t handle in terms of frequency and location of interactions. This ofttimes involves email and text exchanges as in-person exchanges are too difficult to pull off due to the demanding and unexpected nature of migraine attacks. After too many cancellations, we move to text, FaceTime, or email communications instead.
To this end, we may now find ourselves sitting back and watching the rest of the world as they transition away from their many in-person exchanges and thinking, “Welcome to our world! The water’s fine!”
Contracting the coronavirus
Finally, in addition to the ways in which migraine has prepared us for the social distancing aspect of trying to prevent the virus, and the stress we may be experiencing about getting the virus, another impact of the coronavirus on migraine is what happens if/when one actually contracts the virus.
We know there is a wide array of responses to this virus. Some lucky people are shaking it off with little to no symptoms. Of course, we also know it can be deadly. Of those who have experienced symptoms, chief among the complaints has been a bad headache. Those of us who have migraine know that the idea of adding more pain to already existing head pain that can accompany migraine sounds daunting.
Some people with migraine have comorbid conditions that may make them at greater risk for complications related to the coronavirus. If you contract the virus atop having migraine, be sure to get medical advice right away. Additionally, it will be important to reach out to your migraine specialist for that person to work in concert with your other healthcare professionals.
Has life with migraine helped prepare us for this moment?
We are in a major cloud of unknowns here and will certainly gain more information as time unfolds. For now, perhaps one way to think about this situation is to focus on the many ways our lives with migraine have prepared us for the situation. We have spent years navigating extreme pain and other symptoms, learning how to live with and around stress and the last-minute changing of plans; we’ve each experienced major challenges related to work, family, finances, and the healthcare system.
Remember to take deep breaths and keep in mind all you have learned along the way has made you wise and resourceful.
Please chime in below with any strategies you use for addressing stress or difficulty sleeping. How are you feeling about the virus in relation to migraine? Let us know how you are navigating this unique time in the world. We are so glad you are with us.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?