Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Yes, I Saw Your Shot: Facing Triggers

As a big sister to four very sweet, hilarious, and very active younger brothers, I always want to provide fun and engaging entertainment whenever I spend time with them. I love to see a huge smile on their faces, and I love being able to provide or facilitate exciting environments and activities.That is why, despite my apprehension because of migraine…I volunteered to take my younger brother to his third basketball game of the season: loud cheering fans, bright lights, that super, incredibly obnoxious horn, screaming preteens, referee whistles and all. Sometimes it can be really tough to keep up with my kid brothers when I am experiencing pain from migraines, and even tougher to navigate that pain when I am in the role of caretaker for someone else.

Living with chronic migraine can often entail being caught in situations in which many of us are having to choose between our family, friends, jobs, and livelihoods or migraine. Here, I am going to discuss how I navigate a trigger laden situation and environment where I knew many of my own migraine triggers would be present, but that I decided to go through with because I wanted to support a loved one.

Calm before the storm

While I certainly felt anxious about taking my brother to his basketball game because of all of the possible migraine triggers that would be present, I also felt really guilty for having missed his previous games, and I wanted to spend time with him. When my mom asked me if I could take him, I said yes immediately. It was close to my house, and I thought we could make a day of it: lunch, basketball game, ice cream. It all sounded like a blast. I set an alarm to get up early the morning of the game to retrieve him so we could hang out.

But then the anxiety and questions set in: Will I have to wait in the car? Will he be upset with me if I don’t watch all the way through? Should I go in for a little while and leave if I start to feel sick? Am I walking right into a migraine nightmare?

Preparation and support

My partner offered to come along to help with the driving (90 minutes round trip) and to also support my youngest brother at the game. I felt comfort in knowing that my partner would be there if I needed to tag team him in to act as honorary big sibling at the game, help care for me during escalation of an attack should one be induced, and do some of the driving. I also packed my bag full of medicine: migraine meds, allergy meds, inhaler, anxiety medicine, a small cloth, ear plugs and a bottle of water.

I still felt anxious that something would turn my fun day into a sour one, but when we picked my brother up from my mom’s, I felt a little relieved. My brother was super excited to be heading to the game. That filled my heart with joy and the anxieties subsided a little. We ate lunch and had a great time catching up on all things pre-teen and soon we were on our way to the game.

Out of my head, into the game

I could hear the blare of the referees’ whistles before we even entered the room. The small bleachers were packed, mostly with sleepy looking parents and a ton of very small children. Another game was just finishing up. From the moment we walked in I felt dizzy. Although my migraines can be triggered days before they occur and can last for a really long time, I have a lot of experiences where they are induced by environmental factors such as bright lights, smells (such as fryer oil and perfumes), and loud noises. Here I was in an environment where many of those triggers were present and I’d volunteered to go.

Why are sports buzzers so loud?..seriously?

BLEAUURGMM. The buzzer had spoken, very loudly.

Ouch was my first thought. I’d felt the loudness in my teeth and immediately contemplated going back out to the car. ‘Watch out for me’ I whispered to my partner. It was finally time for my brother’s team to play and I was thinking of leaving the room. But I was also filled with excitement and ready to see him play some ball! That’s why we were there after all. I decided to stay.

Worth the stay

For the next thirty minutes I watched intently as my brother played a great game. I felt proud. I shouted ‘GET THE REBOUND’ and ‘Go Blue!’ I clapped and cheered and yes, flinched at every loud sound that occurred during the short game, but I was enjoying myself and enjoying supporting my brother. The most exciting part of the game was a moment in which my brother stole the ball from the opposite team and in an energetic play that had the whole gym watching, took the ball all the way back down the court and made a beautiful layup, for the first points for his team of the game.

And… then before I knew it, the game was over. Thank goodness let’s go, I thought after praising my brother for a great game. He asked me if I saw his really great shot, and I was happy to report that I had! We went to get ice cream and my partner drove us to my mom’s while I checked out a bit and rested in the passenger seat. All in all, that day was so much fun and definitely worth it, but yes–by the end of it all my head was pulsing. I balanced doing something I wanted to do for and with my brother with known migraine triggers, and while I won’t be going to the next one, I am really glad I went to this one. I know that it can feel terrible to have to choose between our loved ones and our pain, and sometimes that choice is not even up to us, because the chronic pain can steal moments like this for us. Because of that, I will always cherish this game I got to spend with my brother. 

Do you ever feel like you can’t support your siblings or kids because of migraine? How do you navigate being in high energy, demanding situations as a role model or caretaker while dealing with migraine triggers and symptoms? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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.


  • ddnben
    1 year ago

    I loved going to football games but the volume level of the crowds and the bouncing of the stadium left me with a migraine for 3 days. And then there was the smell of the food that made me sick as the migraine moved in. It really is difficult to have a social life in certain areas.

  • Kyky Knight moderator author
    1 year ago


    I so know what you mean! I cannot stand frier oil and a lot of other smells of festivity foods, the nausea always kicks in quickly. You are so right that maintaining a social life can be tricky, and we often have to balance or weigh doing something we love with awful, painful symptoms. It can be a real deterrent from seeking out fun and I am sorry you have to know this first hand. Sending encouragement your way. Take care.

  • kateymac
    1 year ago

    Oh Kyky – Your story here is SO exact, SO well written, SO descriptive of migraine life – at least how it’s been for me. – I have a large & loving & FUN family. All of the strategizing ahead, about potential triggers, ways to manage them, ways to get out if needed, etc., etc., is SO familiar!
    In more recent years, however, I’ve been even more frustrated in my effort to navigate around symptoms to be with family & friends. The pain,and mostly the low threshold for environmental stimuli, are making it close to impossible for me to avoid becoming a hermit.
    I especially relate to the basketball game! I have nine nieces and nephews playing all kinds of sports and I WANT TO SEE THEM!!!
    In recent years I’ve also missed almost all of our holiday, birthday, and just for fun gatherings.
    I’m just in a very escalated time in this horrible illness. I do hope that there will be relief at some point to let me participate in life a bit more again. I just hope all of the sport seasons and events aren’t in the past by then. See, I mostly related to your position of being an AUNTIE with migraine. Those games and other special times together are so important, to us and to THEM. Some people think “we’ll at least you don’t have kids to deal with when you’re sick.” But it breaks my heart every day to see the time slipping away every time I miss another game, play, party, graduation,…
    Thanks SO MUCH for this topic. I apologize if I went on too long!!

  • Kyky Knight moderator author
    1 year ago


    Not too long at all! Thank you for your comment, I so appreciate you taking the time to read the article and for your engagement! Goodness your family sounds awesome and lively, it can really be a party just by gathering with that much love and company, so awesome to hear about! I have a big family too with lots of cousins and siblings who’ve always got something exciting to see, so I really understand the whirlwind of wanting to be there with each passing event. I am terribly sorry that you too know all too well that pain of trying to navigate showing up and being present while migraine just says no. Just want to encourage you to know you aren’t alone, and I am sure your family and friends know you want to be there and are grateful for you! Have a wonderful week and take care.

  • Poll