Surviving the Cyclone Bomb

Surviving the Cyclone Bomb

Everyone laughed when, on Wednesday January 3rd, newscasters warned East Coasters to prepare for a “Cyclone Bomb” – a hybrid weather formation combining a blizzard with a hurricane. I had to admit that Cyclone Bomb sounded a bit exaggerated and maybe even made-up. The marketers at the Weather Channel finally jumped the shark.

But it turns out that there’s nothing funny about a Cyclone Bomb. Much like a hurricane, this meteorological phenomenon means that within 24 hours the barometric pressure on the East Coast would plummet at least 24 millibars. But the eye of this particular bomb dropped much farther… by some estimates the barometer dropped 50 millibars.

Assessing the situation

By Friday, I was focused on the only three fundamental truths that mattered:*

Number one: The barometric pressure triggered a bomb inside my head that no medicine could touch.

Number two: Schools would be closed for days and I have two small kids.

Number three: My husband/caregiver had left for a work conference in New York just the day before. I was alone.

When I was a kid — way back before triptans — my mother would hole up in a dark room for days on end. In bed before the kids woke up, I tried to remember: How did she manage three kids? What did we do to pass the time? A montage of images reconstructed from remembered stories and family lore swirled behind my closed eyes: me nearly burning the house down with the toaster; me running out of the house naked; me learning everything I needed to know about romance from Frisco and Felicia…

To be fair to my mom, I think every 80s kid learned about love from General Hospital.

Taking action

My first steps were practical. I stumbled downstairs. Laid out everything needed for the kids to pour their own cereal and grabbed an ice pack. I then texted my husband and asked him to get in touch with my doctor, pharmacy and neighbor to get a steroid taper to my house, stat. When the kids woke up, I put the 7yr old in charge of breakfast and suggested to the 3yr old that this would be an opportune time for her to use her doctor’s kit on an actual sick patient. Pleased with my ingenuity, I began to drift off….

“Mommy! MOMMMY!” This was three-year old Tessa who was now standing on my chest. “WAKE UP!”

I deputized the 7-year old and had him put on the television. “Snow day, kids. You can watch TV for hours!”

I drifted off again. About twenty minutes later, “MOMMMY! WAKE UP!” She gently stroked my hair and pressed her warm lips on my cheek. “Do you feel better? I kiss you. NOW WAKE UP!”

Some of my migraine attacks are ok — I can get up, move around, take a walk, even make dinner. Let me just underscore that this was the *not that kind of migraine.* At best, I could lie in the dark and contemplate mortality. But I knew that Tessa wasn’t just being annoying. She was scared. Her mommy either couldn’t or wouldn’t get out of bed to help her. My heart shattered.

I called Laura, the only neighborhood friend I knew would take both kids for an undetermined and potentially long period of time. (The three year old can be a handful). I then gathered my strength and joined Tessa in front of the television, where I snuggled with her until Laura could get the kids. Shortly after, my next-door neighbor dropped off a steroid taper from the pharmacy. And later that day, my long-suffering husband rushed home from an important meeting in New York so he could pick up the kids and put them to bed.

Long story short, it is doubly true that it takes a village to raise children when a parent has migraine.

More soon on the challenges of juggling a family of four, a full-time job, a long commute, and chronic migraine. In the meantime, what strategies do you use when you parent? We all need more ideas!

*With apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda

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

View Comments (9)
  • vsurdel
    1 year ago

    My mother had horrible migraines. I remember her holing up in a dark room for two days, crawling out only to vomit and crawl back. She raised very self-sufficient kids. I also remember her working as a nurse with one of her migraines – she’s better than me that way. I know one of the factors of my not having children was my migraines – and I had no idea just how bad they would get, so I am still grateful for that decision. They’ve escalated from one or two really bad ones a month in my teens to 1-2 a week in my 20s to now 2-5 a week, some bad, some horrible. I take preventatives, triptans – way too many triptans – and they just never seem to get better for long. I hoped after menopause – nope. I hoped in my 50s – nope. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will need to retire early – not because my migraines will get better, but because there will be less expectations for me not to meet.

  • dbs168
    1 year ago

    I used an imitrex patch for a while, which was wonderful. It had a battery which slowly released the medication over time. It was discontinued due to rashes at the application site, but I keep hoping they will work out the side effects and offer it again. The benefit was that I didn’t get all of the medication at once, so I didn’t get the “I feel like I’m falling backwards” reaction.

  • ScottJ
    1 year ago

    I so feel for you. Barometric changes are the worst for me. I have found it somewhat helpful to plan ahead for weather changes, when possible. I load up on Magnesium, B12, Vit D, Omegas, and Migravent. I cut out ALL triggers – foods, alcohol, sugar, computer screen glare, etc and only put really positive stuff into my body – for me thats lots of potatoes and salmon. I avoid the wind (another trigger) and often start wearing sunglasses (even before having glare and sensitivity issues). I also start icing my neck – even before the pain and stiffness. After all this, weather still affects me – just not as bad when I really watch everything else. Best of health to you!

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi there @ScottJ, Thanks for taking the time to join in on this conversation. It sounds like you are well armed for anticipated weather changes (sorry that is a major trigger for you), but just thought I’d share this article with you as it discusses a medication that may help – https://migraine.com/living-migraine/triggered-by-weather-this-medication-may-help/. Appreciate you being here to share your support! Take good care, Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • Katie
    1 year ago

    Living in Florida, I have to say this year’s weather has seriously kicked my Butt!! I started the new year off having just quit my main job with the school system to start working at home so hopefully my migraines would lessen. Then this cyclone bomb hits, then a nor’easter, then 3 cold fronts…Here it is Valentines Day and I think I have ventured outdoors with a normal #3 on the pain scale headache. Not sure what else I can do? I have been to every doctor known to man and test after test after test just t o be told to hang in there. Triptans don’t work, neither do seizure meds or anti-depressants. You name it I have tried it! I just hold out hope these days that this summer and the CGRP drugs will help!!
    Joanne, thank you for writing this one! I start to feel very alone because a majority of my migraines are weather related. Not only that but I am two days ahead of the storm. I tell people I am the old shaman woman telling you the storm is a coming! It is sunny (usually) when I have my headaches, not always but most of the time. Like my head is in a vice. But now I certainly know I do not suffer alone!
    Before January I would go to work at school. Not only would I work at a K-8 but in the cafeteria! The loudest possible place in the school! Thank goodness for my man to allow me the chance to quit my job and stay home in hopes of a better quality of life! There is nothing to compare going to work just to work in pain and coming home to go to bed, making everyone who I love and who loves me to suffer.
    I just lay still as can be and whisper to myself, making sure not to move, “There will be a cure!”. This is what I wish for not only myself but for the millions out there who suffer like I do daily!!

  • CanadianMum
    1 year ago

    This has been a particularly tough weather season :/ temp changes this drastic spell disaster for me. Thankfully I have support systems in place for the days I need them. I appreciated you sharing this, on a day I’m laid out trying to survive!

  • mrst53
    1 year ago

    I don’t know exactly what I did when my son was little and I had a migraine, I guess I just trusted him to be good and he was. He knew I had a terrible headache and I would cry with them, He loved me lots and would play quiet. Guess God just protected us, because I was in no shape to do it.

  • Jan
    1 year ago

    Joanna, you make me feel like I’m livin’ the easy life. Seriously, I don’t know how you do it. I’ve arranged my life (with help from my wonderful and understanding husband) so I have the least amount of stress possible. I work at home, have no kids, and very few outside responsibilities. Did I want a different career? You bet. Would I rather have a more exciting and fulfilling life? Absolutely. But just as we live within our means financially, I live within my means physically and emotionally. I totally rely on triptans to keep me functional (when I’m not sleeping them off), and I continually thank God that we can afford them. I’m glad you have a neighbor to help, and I encourage others to find that special person(s) who can help in a tight spot.

  • bluebird
    1 year ago

    Sorry for 2 stars. I meant to do 5….I don’t have children and am now retired. I too can’t imagine the challenges of parenting with migraine syndrome. It would be frightening to most children to see the variation in my abilities to walk, speak, listen, or to be engaged with them. I remember saying that I could not account for much of my mother’s time spent in bed..in a nightgown…except to believe she was depressed. Now I think she was suffering behind closed doors with some form of migraine .My father was no caregiver. Your children are lucky to have well informed and responsible parents. You are lucky to have a husband who really get’s it and can respond. Thank you for sharing this tender subject with us.

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