An Interview with My Migraine Care Partner

Last updated: August 2023

This season, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the tools I've used to manage a lifetime of migraines. From medications and physician specialists to ice packs and TENs units, there's one thing I really haven't paid due diligence to - my care partner.

How long have my husband and I been together?

My husband and I have been together for almost 9 years now, and during that time he's seen me at my physical best and my physical worst; from standing at the altar to laying in a hospital bed and everything in between.

How involved is he in my migraine care?

In this season of life, he's been particularly engaged in my care and treatment as I have several ongoing health issues that make it more difficult for me to drive safely, to cognitively be engaged in conversation with physicians, and to proactively think about treatments. He's been particularly helpful when it comes to the migraine fog - when I'm laying in bed in the thick of it, and I call out for him or send him a text message. He knows where all my medicine is kept, how it's arranged, and in what order I usually take it. He has patiently and lovingly learned to draw up my injectable medication and to administer it whether I am stuck in bed or able to stand up, and he always finds the right place on my back to rub to make me feel less alone.

This month, I thought it would be interesting to share a little bit from his insight about living with and helping care for a partner with migraine disorder.

How does an attack impact my partner?

Q: While I’ve struggled with migraines my whole life, during the first few years of our relationship, migraines were pretty infrequent. These last two years they’ve been happening way more often. How do you feel emotionally when I am struggling with a migraine?

A: In a word, helpless. There’s not much I can do to immediately improve a migraine attack. Everything seems like it’s a coin-toss as to whether or not it will help the pain you’re going through. Make the room dark? It’s better, but it’s not guaranteed. One of a few medicine options? Sure, but it will take time to kick in and will it work by the time it does? All of this is the brutal unpredictability of migraines.

How is caring for someone with migraine challenging?

Q: What’s the “hardest” part of being my care partner during these times?

A: That brutal unpredictability that I just mentioned. We can do everything in our power and nothing will affect the worst migraine. While at the same time, everything we had planned or underway still needs to be taken into account. Our daughter doesn’t always understand completely and she wants to help mommy feel better as soon as possible too, but also doesn’t realize that the stimuli that she so lovingly provides doesn’t help as much as she wishes it would. There’s just so much that is out of our control with migraines that makes for planning life so frustrating.

What can care partners learn?

Q: What would you share with other care partners who are newer at their relationship or in their journey of one partner suffering from migraines?

A: Talk. A lot. Have conversations about what sucks about chronic, unpredictable migraines. Do the work in interim, when your partner isn’t in a season of frequent migraines, to know what you need to do to be able to take over for things they are responsible for, make sure you have backup childcare (if required), change how you make plans and who you make them with - don’t by event tickets ahead of time. Utilize services like StubHub or GameTime to make sure everyone is feeling up to going before becoming invested in needing to go. Then it’s a much bigger rush when you get those experiences, rather than the anxiety of getting rid of tickets you can no longer use. Adapting to the unpredictability, while not as wild and crazy as we would of thought in our youth, has been the most sustaining and restorative thing we’ve done to keep our health front of mind.

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