Parenting Through a Migraine Attack
Last updated: June 2023
I have lived with migraines since childhood. I've shared articles about the earliest migraines I remember, curled up in the dark in my bedroom with an ice pack on my forehead, crying because the pain was so intense.
When were my worst migraine attacks?
My relationship with migraines has evolved since. 2020-2021 were probably the hardest, most intense years of migraines for me, as I struggled with hormonal migraines following multiple miscarriages and a first trimester birth (and subsequent immediate death of our twins). During this time, my migraines were so severe nothing I had at home could help, and I found myself seeking treatment multiple times via emergency room and later the infusion suite at my neurologists office.
It was truly awful, unpredictable, and scary.
Has my treatment regimen worked since?
I started working with a migraine specialist at the end of 2021 and since early 2022, my migraines have been pretty well managed on my current regimen (Qulipta and Botox as preventatives, Fioricet and/or ketoralac injections as abortives).
However, I still experience probably 2-4 migraines a month.
Now, this is significantly reduced from where I was at, and with the medications I have at home they typically don't last more than 24-36 hours; BUT, they still occur, need taking care of, and impact my life.
How has parenting made that challenging?
My daughter is nearly 4, and incredibly intelligent. She's also extremely articulate, and frankly does not stop talking from the moment she wakes up in the morning until the moment she goes to sleep at night.
When struggling with a migraine, this is intense. Her voice inadvertently amplifies the pounding in my head, and her near constant need for attention and a playmate exasperates my need for dark, quiet, and rest.
These two things are clearly at odds, and therefore, parenting through a migraine is not an easy feat.
But it's a necessary one. Especially if childcare or spousal support is limited at the time in which the migraine hits.
So, how do I navigate it?
What tips do I have for parenting with migraine?
Here are some tips I've found to be helpful, and I'd like to share them in case any of you have young children and have to balance both parenting and migraine recovery at the same time:
Play doctor/patient. Now, this depends on the age of the child, and what you have at home toy-wise, but my daughter has a Doc McStuffins checkup kit and she loves to be the doctor. When she gives me a checkup, I typically lay on the floor with my eyes closed, and she will "examine me." If the checkup feels too short, I ask her to look at other body parts. Sometimes I try to get silly and pick things like my toes. Other times I remind her that our legs and arms and tummy all need checking up too.
Screen time. I know that many parents have various feelings about screen time, and I totally respect that. In our house, we've recognized screen time as sometimes necessary, AND we monitor what's on the screen and for how long. During migraine attacks specifically, I suggest that my daughter plays some games on her iPad. We also have headphones for her, which means that I don't have to hear the associated sounds from the game (or from whatever she chooses to watch instead). We sit next to each other on the couch and during this time I can use an ice pack on my head and also keep my eyes closed.
Hide and seek. This is one of the only games in which I've found she's quiet while she's hiding, so I slowly creep around the house looking "everywhere" for her, drawing out the finding part for way longer than necessary. I get a bit of movement in and she stays quiet until she's found.
Snacks. When she's eating, she's both quiet and content :)
Have you used any of the strategies I listed above? If you have little kids, how do you manage caring for and entertaining them while suffering with a migraine?
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?