Managing a Multi-Day Intractable Migraine Attack

Managing a Multi-Day Intractable Migraine Attack

It takes just a few consecutive days of being down for the count with an intractable migraine attack before we begin to lose perspective. The intense and severe pain completely removes us from our lives and is akin to having the wind knocked out of the body. It’s disconcerting and causes us to lose our place.

Even the most emotionally balanced of us can lose hope. Will it ever get better? The pain is so comprehensive, encompassing, and attention-stealing, that we can barely recall feeling well, even if we were functional just days earlier.


Those of us lucky enough to have a network of helpers in our lives watch as friends and family assume our responsibilities, filling the gap we have left behind. This dynamic fills us with a mixture of gratitude and guilt. That said, we simply don’t have room in our hearts for anything but simply responding to the pain that demands our attention.

Others of us who are on our own, or are faced with tasks only we can do, can’t help but leap frog in our minds to our ever growing to-do lists. And with each visit to that list, there comes a mini-panic attack which leads to an increase in pain. Weighing all the tasks at hand against the fact that we’re incapable of doing anything that requires thinking or movement is beyond frustrating. It’s like being tied to a train track and watching the freight train barreling ever closer, helpless and unable to get out of the way.

Bored out of my pained mind

In addition to being a guilt-inducing, sad experience, a multi-day intensive migraine is also incredibly boring. There’s so little we can do when battling comprehensive pain. It’s impossible to focus on any one thing (except for the pain) for any length of time. For some, the TV works, with the brightness turned all the way down. For those who struggle with concentration during migraines, simply watching TV or listening to podcasts is a challenge. Some listen to music in an attempt to distract from the pain, but often the pain seems louder than all the music in the world.

Nothing’s working

Frequently, when managing our way through the more drawn out migraine attacks, we end up throwing everything in the medicine cabinet at it to no avail. We might max out on rescue medication limitations, and end up being stuck taking daily preventatives and waiting it out.


When we’ve tried everything else, and yet remain in the midst of severe, intense, intractable pain, the best approach might be to sleep it off. However, even that can be a challenge when simply getting comfortable enough to sleep can be difficult. Sometimes, the pain can wake us up from sleep. Or, when we are able to sleep through the pain, there is a terrible sinking feeling that we are sleeping our lives away.

The upside

The upside of a multi-day, intractable migraine attack is the moment it lifts. Well, it might not be a moment. It is often a slow fade and during that fade, we often live in fear that our actions will cause a migraine to return. But when an awful attack is truly in the rearview, there is a time when everything tastes sweeter, the air smells fresher and feels good on the skin. Our senses are more alive. It’s as if the pain acts as white noise and once it lifts, we can see, hear, and feel things more clearly. This can result in a level of gratitude about being in the world and appreciating the simple things in a way that few others experience.

How do you make it through a multi-day migraine attack? Please share your experiences and tips here so we can learn from one another.

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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.

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