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Quality of Life is More Important Than Quantity of Migraine Attacks

Quality of Life is More Important Than Quantity of Migraine Attacks

A friend’s husband told me he has migraine attacks every Saturday and Sunday. “It could be worse,” he said, “but this is no way to live.” At the time, it was a small miracle that I was even able to leave the house. I would have been thrilled to have migraine attacks confined to the weekends. Instead of saying this, I took a couple deep breaths. I reminded myself that this man’s migraine frequency causes him great distress and that his struggles are entirely independent of mine.

My philosphy on migraine advocacy

I kept thinking of this story as I wrote High-Frequency Episodic Migraine is Similar to Chronic Migraine. That conversation with my friend’s husband shaped a philosophy I try to live by in my migraine advocacy work:

As long as you feel like migraine is affecting your ability to live a normal life, your migraine attacks are too frequent. It doesn’t matter if you have one attack a day, one a week, one a month, or one a year.

Any number of interruptions to life is too many

Online migraine communities are a source of strength and comfort for so many people who feel lost or alone, but they can also skew one’s perspective of migraine. All the patient advocates I can think of have (or have had) chronic migraine. Many patients who engage online are also chronic. It makes sense; when you have chronic migraine, it tends to play a huge role in your life.


Unfortunately, this slant toward chronic migraine leaves some people with episodic migraine feeling like their problems aren’t serious or important. That’s absolutely not true. No matter how frequent or severe your migraine attacks are, if you feel like they’re interrupting your life, you’re having too many.

Each experience should be respected

A woman once commented on the Migraine.com Faceboook page that she has two migraine attacks a month and that when one ends it’s time for another to begin. Someone else responded, “Two migraines a month? That’s nothing. Try 20 a month. You have no idea how bad migraine can be.” Whether or not someone who has two migraine attacks a month knows what it’s like to have chronic migraine is irrelevant. If some feels like two attacks a month constitute a huge problem, then they do. No one else’s experience with migraine needs to come into play.

Quantity of migraine attacks doesn’t matter; quality of life does.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Marina
    3 years ago

    I know all about those weekend migraines. I have had plenty of those and those are killers because they interfere with your free time or errand time. Then everything gets behind due to the loss of the time you would have used in the weekend because on Monday morning you have to get back to work. The only good thing about a weekend migraine, is that you don’t have to miss work or struggle through a day at work with the pain.

    I have had various episodes of migraines that have run day after day and then every two weeks. It all depends on many factors. Stress, food, weather, anxiety can all create various patterns of the migraine frequency that we may suffer from and can alter the number of days we are actually disabled because of the migraines. The disruption of days in our life due to migraines can be varied. Just because someone gets two migraines a month, does not mean that they have only lost two days of their life to pain. My typical migraine attack would be three to four days so that could be eight lost days in a month. Plus there are varying degrees of the suffering. After the first day, there could be a day of nausea and then two days of searing ice-pick pounding pain above one eye before the final day of weakness. Factoring in all the effects of a migraine attack is what destroys your quality of life.

    All I know is that when I am not suffering from a migraine, I am so grateful and use that time to get on with my life because those pain-free days are so precious to me. I am euphoric with each day without the migraine and all the ill effects they cause upon my body.

  • twobassets
    3 years ago

    Thanks for this article. I am just coming off of a bad two day migraine. It is in reality the same one I have all the time just increased in intensity. I’ve had migraines since I was a small child and over the years they have changed. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. All migraines are miserable and impact your quality of life. How could they not? No matter how many attacks, type of attacks or symptoms you have, migraines interrupt your life and impact those around you. So quantity is just one measure and for me it’s the severity measure that is important. We are all different.

  • Writermom
    3 years ago

    Hi, Kerri! I just want you to know that I read this item this morning. I totally agree with you that Quality is more important than Quantity. ANYTIME a person suffers a migraine attack, it interferes with their life. That is not acceptable. Thanks for writing this item.

  • Nonster
    3 years ago

    Kerrie,
    You are always one who sees all sides of a situation and are very diplomatic and fair to all involved. I so admire that about you, especially since all you have been through and continue to go through with your own personal struggle with migraine. You are so right in your observation as I think all of us who are now dealing with chronic migraines were once episodic. At that time in our lives episodic migraine were painful, fearful and definitely affected our quality of life. Anyone with any type of migraine suffers and their quality of life is affected. Thank you for all you do through Migraine.com along with your own personal blog The Daily Headache. I have learned a lot from you!

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Nonster! I needed that today. I hope you’re doing as well as possible.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  • SilverPhoenix13
    3 years ago

    Others have made very good points. The woman who countered with “try having 20 a month” obviously failed to consider that those 1 or 2 migraines could each last days or weeks. Not to mention the fact that this disease can change with each person. The first woman may only get 1 or 2 a month NOW, but that number could easily increase.

    When I first started getting migraines when I was 7, I only got one every other month or so. Then it was one or two every month. Then, it was 1 or 2 a week. Then, 2 or 3 a week. Now, I average anywhere between 4 and 10 a month, but my migraines last no less than 3 days and have been known to go as long as 14 days.

  • nives
    3 years ago

    Hi, I have chronic migraines for 30 years but I also always had at least one migraine on my days off. Why is that? I can work 10 hours a day 5 days a week and I am fine (well with small headaches but nothing really bad) and on my first day off when I am finally relaxed I will get migraine.

  • 3 years ago

    Thank you for this. I get an average of 3 to 6 migraines a month, and headaches every day, and I truly feel my quality of life is diminished a great deal, especially since anxiety about important events and exertion during physical activity are major triggers for me. I always tell myself how glad I am I don’t have chronic migraines, but it doesn’t really help when I’m either in the midst of one or fearing the next one to come.

  • Tiki
    3 years ago

    I wish I only had them weekends. Quality of life is nonexistent. Life was Nature’s mistake.

  • Kerry P
    3 years ago

    It’s not how many, how long, or how severe. Suffering is not a contest! Whether you have one or one hundred, migraines can knock you down for hours or days. The last thing you need is people trying to do the same thing to you. I’d say look at the bright side but we all know looking at bright isn’t the best idea. =)

  • Chip&Dale
    3 years ago

    EXCELLENT article!
    It’s so damned infuriating when it feels like people who should understand you do nothing but try to “one-up” you with their complaints or give backhanded compliments that the feel you are not intelligent enough to catch.
    I feEl like saying:
    “guess what? Each and every one of us who suffer from migraines, regardless of frequency or severity are ALWAYS in 1 of 3 stages: Predomal, episode, or postdomal.
    This isn’t a freaking contest!”

  • scitro
    3 years ago

    Quality of life is exactly how I feel. Migraines for me last about 6 days very 10 to 12 days. So the days that are almost migraine free are the days I look forward to. Migraines have cost me my job and life as I knew it. They weren’t something I knew a whole lot about until the past year. I am having to rewrite what life is. One thing is for sure, I enjoy every moment I have with family and friends. There isn’t anything that has remained the same in my life, other than the people that are a part of my daily life.

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    Two migraines a month? But how long do they last and what is the impact on all of that person’s daily responsibilities? My own migraines can last a week or more with a variability in severity from day to day.

    Good article, thanks! ^_^

  • scitro
    3 years ago

    I completely understand what you are going through. It’s the hangover days that really determine how quickly I get back to somewhat normal. How do you handle the “hangover days?”

  • Maureen
    3 years ago

    Kerrie,
    I feel like the woman you mention in your article might be in the same boat as Douglas, with two “attacks” but she has migraine pain or other symptoms almost every day.

  • Douglas
    3 years ago

    This is a wonderful post. I am very fortunate that I do not have pain with my migraines. I have chronic hemiplegic migraine, so it just looks (and feels) like I am having another stroke or TIA. The quality of life issue has me pursuing inpatient treatment this summer.
    Similar to the woman you mention, I have only one migraine in the past 60 days (as of today, 6/17/2016), but I have had the same migraine (with varying intensities) for that entire period. So, yes, quality of life counts more than quantity of migraines.

  • 2boysMama
    3 years ago

    Douglas, I have just learned about hemiplegic migraines. I have been experiencing then with more.
    You mentioned you are doing an inpatient treatment.
    What exactly are you doing?
    I am now searching for a new Neuro. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.
    Janice

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your experience. You raise an interesting difference in definition. You say you’ve had one ongoing migraine for 60 days. Clinically and in research, you’d be considered as having 60 migraine days, even if they all stem from one attack. Frequency-wise, that would put you in the chronic migraine category. I’ve been so conditioned to think in terms of migraine days that I use days and attacks interchangeably. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy. I’ll try to figure out how to express that difference in my future writing.

    Take care,
    Kerre

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