Migrony: Migraine + Irony
Living with migraine is complicated. With no shortage of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations, seemingly sound decisions can quickly lead to unintended consequences. Here are five examples of just how tricky it can be to navigate living our best with this debilitating disease.
1. Abortive Medication
Take your abortive medication at the very first sign of migraine, BUT don’t take it too often!
If you are taking an abortive medication, you’ve probably been warned about the danger of medication overuse pain and “treating at the first sign of symptoms” in the same breath. When my migraine attacks were chronic, this drove my batty! With three or four attacks a week, and no distinguishable return to a non-migrainous state, how was I supposed to know when to take my meds?
For a long time, I tried to predict how severe the oncoming attack might be and decide whether or not to take abortive medication based on that. Turns out my psychic abilities are terrible.
I eventually figured out that a detailed planner was the only way for me to make informed decisions about when to take an abortive med or not. That way, if I feel the pain coming on, a quick glance at my calendar will let me know how many pills I’ve had so far this week, and if I might need one to get through an unavoidable triggering event in the near future. If I decide not to take a triptan to avoid overuse headache, I immediately turn to damage control and employ every other non-triptan tool at my disposal to try and rest comfortably.
2. Social triggers
For the sake of your health, you should avoid the triggers typical of most social situations, BUT social support is more important than ever for the sake of your health!
Welcome to life with migraine! You will be more isolated than ever in your dark, quiet, scent-free cave of pain, but don’t forget: reaching out to a network of support is one of the best ways to get through this!
But… I need to stay in this dark room by myself all day…sooo, how?
We have to be creative about this one. Connecting with people online instead of in person can be a great way to get support, even from near strangers. While many relationships can slip away because of illness, we learn how to truly cherish the people willing to adapt for us.
3. Financial stability
You need more financial stability than ever to afford medication and treatments BUT your ability to work is suddenly on shaky ground!
This is just the worst. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Well, except universal healthcare that includes integrative medicine… But I’ll save that rant for another post.
Many of us find ways to work from home, or actually manage to win the workplace accommodations to which we are legally entitled, or are lucky enough to have a partner who can carry the weight. Sometimes we try to work harder to afford treatments and end up worse off from pushing too hard. Any way you look at it, health and money are often at odds.
It is essential that you eat protein-filled food every three hours without fail, BUT also, avoid half the food in the world!
Okay, maybe “half the food in the world” is an overstatement, but it certainly feels this way sometimes. Planning gluten-free, additive-free, high-protein goodies every time I leave my house is almost second nature now. But no matter how prepared I try to be, I occasionally find myself in a situation where I must choose to either eat some trigger-ridden food, or risk the trigger of low blood sugar. Gah!
5. Stress and anxiety
It is more important than ever that you reduce stress and anxiety in your life to avoid migraine attacks! Psst, by the way, your inevitable migraine attacks are a source of great stress and anxiety!
This one is almost funny. Almost. Especially when you consider that historically, it was typical for Western doctors to blame women’s pain on their stress levels. Try it the other way around, boys.
There are just so many situations where we can find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. This is why it is so, so, so important that we learn to trust our instincts, experience, the data in our migraine diary, and hopefully our doctors, and why we must do our best to let go of guilt and self-blame.
The pain is never our fault, which is made abundantly clear when looking at the kinds of difficult choices we must make every day.