Preparing to Advocate for Yourself During a Migraine

I have been a chronic illness patient for most of my life, and I’ve struggled with migraines for all of that time and then some. As I transitioned from pediatric care under my parents' support to adult care on my own, I realized that the amount of time, energy, brainpower, and willpower required to advocate for myself was really really large and completely overwhelming.

It was hard in the beginning

In the beginning, I struggled to ask for support and stand up for myself.

This was exponentially more impossible when the need arose in the midst of a migraine attack.

How do you advocate in the middle of an attack?

Picture this - your head is throbbing so hard, it feels like you’re laying under a herd of stomping elephants. Every single sound feels too loud, even that of your own inhales and exhales. Any sliver of light makes you wince. And the medication you took? Ot didn't make your migraine any better.

How do you call the doctor's office when you feel like this? How do you wait on hold or send an electronic message when you can barely lift your head up or keep your eyes open without your misery exponentially increasing?

Here's how - you plan ahead, to the best of your abilities.

My advice?

It took me a great deal of navigating, of trial and error, and years of experience to gather the advice I'm about to share with you. Grab a pen, or better yet, screenshot this on your phone, so you can refer back to it whenever you need.

  1. Keep a list of your migraine medications, dosage and expiration date. Have this readily available so when a migraine hits you know what options are at your fingertips.
  2. Have a plan with your doctor. When you are struggling through the worst symptoms and you need additional support, what is the quickest, least painful way to reach your physician? Do they have a special nurses line you can call? If they are available via electronic messenger, you might consider pre-composing a message draft and save it on your phone. Then, it would only require copying and pasting, rather than composing and typing, when you were in the moment.
  3. Have someone you can reach out to. Whether it's a parent, partner, child, or friend, have someone you can prep ahead of time to know what to expect when you're struggling with a migraine, and what you might need in those moments. Some things you may discuss - having them call the doctor on your behalf, run to the pharmacy or the grocery store on your behalf, helping you with meals/staying hydrated during a migraine attack, arranging childcare, reaching out to your boss to announce a sick day - essentially a laundry list of action items that can be initiated with one phone call or text message.

My plan of action

I've found the last tip, #3, to be the most beneficial in my case. When I'm struggling with the worst migraines, I send a quick text to my husband, who knows to set up "the plan" - one which has already been laid out with thought and precision when my head hasn't been exploding. That one text, it sets everything else in motion, and I can then close my eyes again, and go back to the dark and the quiet, knowing that whatever else might need to be done to help me navigate this migraine and life throughout it is already in action.

How have you helped yourself prepare for advocacy and support ahead of a migraine attack?

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