Planning for Life’s Big Moments: A Case Study of a Chronic Migraineur
Our lives are made up of a succession of moments – some tiny and insignificant, others small and infinitely precious, and still others that are so immense we can do little but stand in awe as they pass, trying to participate as fully and remember as completely as possible. While migraine disease can and does affect all of these moments equally, it is when it dampens or destroys the largest of these that we can feel the most disappointment and regret. Thankfully, these biggest of moments generally come with some warning, and – with a little planning – we can often lessen migraine’s impact on those days.
Migraine can make the calmest of people uneasy
I have one such moment coming up in early August. And, while I have been eagerly anticipating (and frantically preparing for) its arrival, I also have been leery, wary of my disease and the surprises it may have in store. Migraine can make even the calmest and steadfast of us uneasy, and those of us with accompanying anxiety disorders often feel this unease to a severe degree. This is especially true for me, so I made a plan. (As I often do.)
Making a plan to lessen anxiety
Having a plan lessens my anxiety. It gives me a sense of control, reminding me that I am doing all I can at any moment – which is all any of us with chronic migraine can do. I do not yet know how this plan will play out. My big day has not yet arrived, but I can say that the closer it gets, the less afraid I am of a migraine attack derailing the moment and stealing my joy. And that – as I’m sure you’ll agree – is something.
My six-week plan with migraine
Regular sleep and eliminating migraine food triggers
Week One: Get back on track with regular sleep and wake cycles, rising and retiring as close to the same time as possible (even on weekends). This is particularly difficult during the summer months with small children and a partner whose work hours change frequently, but I made it a top priority.
Week Two: Continue plan from week one, plus eliminate the foods that I know cause me health issues – no matter how much I like them. Enriched flour products are a big no-no for me, but finding unenriched versions – especially on the road – is nearly impossible. So, I cut out bread products entirely during this time, except for a few items I made at home with ingredients I chose.
Replacing coffee with tea
Week Three: Continue plan from weeks one and two, but replace coffee with tea and reduce number of cups per day. I’ll admit, this one was of the hardest parts for me to follow. I LOVE coffee. Many of my rescue medications, however, include caffeine, and they don’t work as well if I’m drinking cups and cups a day. I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to feel well on my big day, and that means making sure my rescue meds – if I need them – have the best chance of working. So, coffee was out.
Adding yoga for relaxtion
Week Four: Continue plan from weeks one through three, plus incorporate a daily at-home yoga session. I love yoga, but I don’t always have the time to make it to a class. However, with all my preparation for the upcoming events, I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make it to the gym either. So, I made it a priority to work in at least 10-15 minutes of floor work at home each day. It wasn’t much, but I saw an improvement in my overall health almost immediately, likely because yoga relaxes me more than almost anything else. (YouTube and Netflix both have good yoga videos, if you’d like to try this but need some inspiration.)
Week Five: Keep maintaining the plan!
Week Six: Keep maintaining the plan!
That’s it! Less than seven days to go, and I’m feeling good! Hopefully I’ll be able to check in next month and say the plan worked, and that my day passed by – summer heat and all – without a hint of an attack. Fingers crossed.
If any of you have certain things you do to prepare your brain and health for the big moments in life, please share below. I love it when we can learn from one another.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?