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Paying the Migraine Toll after a Long, Busy Week

I had a really long week. My stress levels were high because I’m in the process of trying to get a more stable job that still works with my current chronic migraine citation. That week, I had work or networking events, a school auction, and a conference.

How was I managing the stressful week?

The conference was the nail in the coffin, I know it. It was oversold, in a stuffy hotel conference room with not enough chairs and low, fluorescent lighting. I’d been saving up my opportunity for rescue medication. Usually, I’d have taken it after the mondo headache I’d come home with after the networking event on Tuesday, but I knew I had many miles to go before I'd sleep, so I settled for ibuprofen.

Friday, though, the conference was too much. I went straight from the conference to the school auction and didn’t waste any time before I took the rescue med, a triptan, plus the painkiller prescribed at my last neurologist visit. I was glad I did. I’d had the fog of war threatening to break through. By the end of the evening, I was so tired, people kept asking me how many drinks I’d had. None. I was just exhausted. I went home and collapsed.

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Was I able to relax over the weekend?

The rest of the weekend was busy but chill. Errands. Hanging with kids. Catching up on work. Monday rolled around and I knew I was going to have a hard day. There was a sharp pain just above my eyebrow as soon as I got up. I drove the kids to school taking deep breaths to tamp down my nausea.

When did migraine come?

The week had taken its toll and now I had to pay up. I pictured an angry looking troll standing at a bridge, his hairy arm outstretched, waiting for me to pay the coin in order to be granted passage. Beyond him was my computer, the words on the screen clear and inviting. My to do list hung just out of reach. But the troll blocked my way.

I tried my best to avoid the troll toll. I took a long dog walk. I drank tons of water. I had extra coffee. But to no avail. When I went to look at my screen, the words swirled and stuck in my vision, threatening to set off an aura. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t form cohesive, smart thoughts. I scrolled through my email. I clicked through an online training. I applied for a job. I was exhausted.

How did I manage the attack?

I showered and gave up on my bigger tasks for the day. I went to pick up the kids and enjoyed the sunshine. When we got home, I knew I had a long way to go before I could crawl into bed, but I tried to take it easy. I breathed in the fresh spring air. I tried to be nice to myself. Berating myself about not being able to be a productive little soldier wasn’t going to help right now.

It wasn’t my fault this was happening. Sure, I’d overloaded the week, but it was all events or tasks I felt I had to do or that I very much wanted to do. I’d have been bummed to miss them. It wasn’t my fault, though, that I have to conserve energy differently than someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness. It’s my problem, but it’s not my fault. The solution, of course, is grace and rest, two things I’m notoriously great at granting others but not myself. Perhaps I could pretend I was giving advice to someone else. “You have a headache? You can’t think straight? You just want to close your eyes? Of course you should rest. You won’t feel better until you do.” Maybe I can take my own advice.

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

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