Couple on couch hold ice packs and support each other

Migraine Patient Turned Injury Caretaker

Sometimes, I don’t know what I would do without my caretaker. From knowing just what to do when a familiar migraine attack comes on, to providing me with comfort, affirmation, and encouragement through daily pain with chronic migraine, my caretaker is literally my rock.

What a good migraine caretaker looks like

Even though they hear me express feelings of despair over pain every single day, they still listen intently. Even though I have asked them a million and one times to please get me an ice pack and my medication, they still promptly and lovingly help me every time. Since they are also my partner, they have seen me through the very lowest of lows with migraine, and I trust them and their care. I always want to give reciprocal attention and care to them, and I feel guilty when migraine makes that difficult for me.

My migraine caretaker was injured

Recently, my caretaker suffered a back injury that made it so that they experienced debilitating pain for a few weeks. The pain was concentrated in their lower center back, and they had a lot of trouble standing, walking, moving around, and felt generally bad all over from the pain. I knew it was my turn to be as much of a caretaker as I could for them, during this time. Luckily, I learned from the best.

What I learned from my caretaker that helped me help them

My caretaker is always very attentive to my needs, and often times asks what, if anything, they can do to help me when the pain is really bad. I tried to take cues from my caretaker when they were injured, by asking what they needed and how I could help. This entailed putting the ice packs in the freezer for us both, getting some Ibuprofen to help them with the swelling and discomfort, and applying icy-hot to their injury.

Anticipating needs

My caretaker also anticipates things I don’t ask for all the time, so I took it upon myself to gather a few things I thought might help, just in case. I grabbed a back brace from my local Walmart just to assist them in sitting and standing, and they were very thankful!

Giving spaceAnother thing I learned from my caretaker, is how to give space when someone doesn’t feel well, while still helping them to feel heard and supported. I know with migraine, I can be super grumpy and even impatient because I feel blinded by the pain. I know that many people who feel pain so often experience this too. Because of this, I knew when my caretaker wasn’t enthusiastic or feeling their happy self while dealing with the pain, that it wasn’t anything personal. I tried to give them ample space and room to just feel pain, taking cues from the way they give me the same, while still letting them know I was there for them if they needed anything.The trouble of being a caretaker with migraineLiving with chronic migraine means doing my best in everything I try to do, but realizing the real limitations that migraine provides. There were many moments when I was trying to be a caretaker for my own caretaker that I was confronted with my limitations.Navigating migraine sensitivities and painThe smell of the icy-hot for instance triggered a horrible migraine for me, and that left us both in bed for a while. There were also moments when I was dealing with my own pain, where on instinct and out of habit, I called for my caretaker because I felt I couldn’t get out of bed, only to realize that I needed to take a step back, because neither could they. In these moments I had to push myself for us both, because in ways I was better equipped to do so. These challenges also helped me realize that perhaps I can more frequently help myself when it comes to dealing with the pain, even though I am so used to having help.Understanding the caretaker side of migraineEven though I felt that migraine disallowed me to be as prompt a caretaker as my own, I still tried to take lessons from my own relationship as the one who needs to be taken care of in my approach to communicating and offering help when my caretaker was injured. I also learned that I could be strong for two during this time in some ways, despite debilitating migraine.Have you had to be both the caretaker and the patient at the same time? How did you cope? Do you have any tips with others in similar situations? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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