I am so bored!
While growing up with migraine, my parents tried to keep life consistent. Today I understand why they did it. Although I didn’t appreciate it for years, especially as a teenager. I craved excitement and adventure. I wasn’t rebellious, but I did push the limits on routines such as meal times, bed times, and curfews simply because I was bored.
What they didn’t know was how to teach me to find balance. If I’d had more control over my schedule, then I could have learned stress management skills much sooner. As it was, I developed some bad habits that I struggle with even today. While not an “adrenaline junkie,” I do like to stay up late and often forget to eat.
When I learned about the need for a consistent schedule as part of a good migraine prevention strategy, I was relieved at first. It gave me a legitimate reason to avoid a lot of activities that I preferred to skip anyway. As an introvert, parties and crowds have never been my thing. Even concerts are difficult because all the noise and flashing lights trigger sensory overload even if they weren’t migraine triggers.
At first the solitude and isolation was a welcomed respite. But something happened after several months…I got bored. I had such difficulty just maintaining a simple routine of meds, meals, and sleep. Adding anything else set off a genuine fear of triggering an attack. In fact, I had stripped down my life to the bare minimum so that my migraine brain became accustomed to boredom. It resisted any attempts to break the monotony. Frustration set in as I began to think I might never get to have any fun again.
At first I introduced simple, brief activities that did not require me to leave the house, trying to limit myself to one “adventure” each day at about the same time. After a few weeks, my brain decided to cooperate. Little by little I ventured out of the house on short trips. At first I let someone else do the driving, only recently starting to drive solo on a limited basis.
Recently, I took a big step. My husband and I took a road trip to visit family over a long weekend. This meant that I would be sleeping in a strange bed and possibly eating unusual foods. I took extra precautions by maintaining as many routines as possible. While the weekend wasn't attack-free, it also wasn't ruined by migraine. I had a great time catching up with loved ones.
At the time of this writing, I am sitting in a hotel room 700 miles from home. My husband was asked to travel to a company office in Huntsville, Alabama in order to help out for two weeks. He invited me to tag along. Free from distractions, I spend my days writing. Evenings are spent cooking together and enjoying quiet time not easily found in a house with two adult kids and a two year old grandchild. We are planning some sight-seeing this weekend. So far the change in routine has not set off any migraine attacks.
In a few weeks, I will take off again on a solo trip to San Diego for the annual American Headache and Migraine Association conference. Friends and I are already making plans to get together. I don't think life will return to "normal" until July.
I’m starting to get my quality of life back. I'm still watchful for reactions from my brain and waiting for the day when it tells me I’ve crossed the line. Hopefully that day is still very far away.
When it comes to planning vacations or other events where travel is required, how much does migraine factor into your decision-making?