Migraine and FOMO
When we received an invitation for the wedding of a dear friend in California, a wave of questions arose. After all, we live on the East Coast and I live with chronic migraine. Do we gamble on the hope that a migraine will not appear and make reservations for airfare and accommodations? Or, do we acknowledge the reality of my nearly constant state of pain, and proactively respond with my regrets, sending my husband to attend the event on his own? These options felt like a symbolic choice between embracing life and letting migraine win.
I think I can
I want to, and I have to, believe that these types of experiences are within my reach. This belief feels like a healthy and important choice that leans me toward, rather than away from, life and all its offerings. Even though migraine has prohibited my ability to participate in countless events, my husband and I have a general agreement when it comes to responding to invitations. Whenever possible, we RSVP that I will be in attendance. Doing so gives me the flexibility to come if I can. That way, most times I can wait and see how I’m feeling until the day arrives before making a decision.
After all, I want to be with my husband on all of life’s adventures. I love spending time with and traveling with him. But the hard truth is that migraine limits my ability to be adventurous and my husband ends up flying solo to most events. This reality breaks my heart.
Betting on wellness
A trip to California is a bit harder to leave the decision for the last minute. Reservations would have to be made and paid for, after all. This really felt like a gamble but, as usual, we chose to bet on wellness and hope for the best. We bought tickets for the trip, found a cute Airbnb cottage and after talking with my lifelong best friend, I even extended my trip by a couple of days so that she and I could visit with each other.
Some might say this was not the smartest choice given my daily pain, and proclivity for nausea and vomiting. Triggers that set me off include loud noises, pressure changes, bright lights, stress, and fatigue. All triggers that can be found in travel. That said, again, I don’t want to be held hostage by migraine. I don’t want to be incapable of enjoying what life has to offer out of fear that a migraine might appear.
In the days prior to the trip, a voracious migraine showed its ugly head. The kind of migraine that is a full body experience. My energy drained to zero. Endless bouts of vomiting. None of my medicines were working.
I couldn’t fathom canceling this trip with all that was now riding on it. The cost, the logistics, my best friend counting on me. As the departure date neared, my stress about the trip was like gasoline causing an already intense migraine attack to become a raging fire.
Incapable of thinking clearly due to the grip of the migraine, my husband was helpful in walking me through the situation until the answer became clear. Proceeding with our plans made no sense given the pain I was in, especially given my track record for slow healing from these kinds of intractable migraine attacks.
It’s about how you play the game
Indeed it took me over a week to get my bearings. In that time, my husband left and came back and I was still recuperating. Thankfully, best friend was wonderfully understanding. She reminded me that we have to put our health first and that my body was obviously asking me to take care of itself. And she was right.
I didn’t spend the time my husband was away depressed about not being there. I was too busy responding to the migraine’s demand for attention. Of course I missed him and my friend, but getting wrought up about the injustice of missing out gets me nowhere but on the way to another migraine attack.
A major upside of all of this is that I remain glad that we tried. I’m glad we gambled for the experience of life. I’m sad I missed out, but I’d be more sad if we hadn’t even tried for me to be there. My spirit is lifted by the belief that these experiences are within my reach. In the meantime, I continue learning worlds about being flexible and that it’s alright to apply compassion to myself.
How do you approach travel opportunities? Do you proceed with the belief you will be able to go, or have you chosen to change the way you approach adventure and travel in your life because of migraine? If so, what do you do differently?