Planning Around Migraine: Plans for When You Can’t Drive
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It’s 3 p.m., and your children get out of school in 45 minutes. The school is 30 minutes away so you start packing up to leave. As you grab your purse, a migraine attack hits out of nowhere.

Now, you’re breathing heavily and blinking in pain from the light. Your stomach is swirling. Your head is throbbing in time with your heartbeat. You’re dizzy, and it’s becoming difficult to focus. What do you do?

If you’re lucky enough to live in a walk-able neighborhood or in a city with a strong public transportation system, you may not have a problem. Your children, depending on their ages, may be able to walk home alone or catch the bus, subway, or trolley car. There even may be a school bus that can drop them off right at your door. But what if that isn’t the case?

Often, we drive anyway, but we shouldn’t

Driving with a migraine is never a good idea. There are safety concerns, of course, but there are personal physical ones as well. Pushing ourselves when we’re sick often results in increased severity and an exacerbation of symptoms. To avoid this, we need to plan ahead.

Planning ahead opens up options that might not be available in the heat of the moment. This enables those of us without family nearby or an available spouse to still put our family’s safety and our personal health first. Even if—as is the case in Texas where I live—public transit and/or school buses are not available.

Taxi or rideshare service

If your child is old enough and you can afford it, you may be able to have a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare service pick up your child from school. If you’re considering this, however, do your research first to avoid frustration. Most companies post rules on when a child is old enough to ride alone. If it turns out your child isn’t old enough for a solo ride, you can request to be picked up first and then ride along. However, this will cost double the price so that’s likely a last resort.

Friend or neighbor

If you’re anything like me, you may hate this idea. I get it. Asking someone neither related to nor married to me for help is right up there with heading to the dentist on my list of things I really don’t want to do. That’s where planning ahead can help. Talking to the person in advance enables you to gauge their willingness to help in the hypothetical, when stress isn’t flying high. This will likely make you both feel more at ease.

Back-up partnership with another parent

Your child likely has a best friend at school. Consider forming a partnership with the other child’s parent in which you both agree to step in for the other in the event of an emergency. This will require you to be upfront about your condition, but it may be easier than the other options listed above. The other parent will likely already be at the school anyway, and your child knows him or her. Better still, this arrangement is a partnership so the implied reciprocity may alleviate any discomfort you might feel about asking for help.

We all know the necessity of having a migraine toolkit. Think of advance planning for these types of events in the same way. Anything that helps us cope with the unexpected and prepare for the expected enables us to live a less stressful, more joyful life.

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