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woman trapped inside of hour glass waiting for next migraine attack

What If You Can’t Escape?

Many of us who suffer from migraines know just how inconvenient they can be. Whether it is interrupting a work day, limiting a favorite activity, preventing a scheduled get together with a friend, or halting quality family time, migraine can cause huge inconveniences. Sometimes we have to cancel out on plans, or say no to something we would rather not have to say no to because our bodies just can’t commit to what our mind wants.

Having a good plan for when migraine hits unexpectedly is oftentimes a must for navigating day to day commitments, especially for those of us who are chronic. Keeping abortive medication on hand, or making alternate plans in the event that certain known triggers are likely to be present when we are out and about, for instance, can keep the inconvenience of a miserable migraine manageable. But what happens when it isn’t really possible to alter plans, or change our environments, when dealing with an expected migraine?

A nauseating occurrence

While riding in the car with my caretaker recently, I began to feel really, really sick. We were about thirty minutes into a two-hour car ride, returning back from a show my caretaker played at a festival. Since the morning, I had been feeling uneasy, and a little throbbing had begun in the side of my head. Nothing unusual for me, I took Excedrin, drank water, covered my eyes and laid in a cool room until it was time to go. I started to feel a little better as the morning went on, and soon we were on our way.

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Everything was going alright at first. I still felt a bit sick, but it was not escalating. After awhile though, the AC stopped blowing as cold as it had been in the car, and it was 91 degrees outside. My head began to pound as the minutes went on, and eventually intense nausea joined in. I needed to stop and use the restroom, as well as stop moving altogether because I started to feel like I would just throw up if we went any further.

We got to a gas station, and it was even more nightmarish. The closest gas station was an older station with flickering lights in the bathroom and an awful smell. As soon as I walked in, the lights sent me into a dizzying, nauseating spiral. Everything I had eaten before came right up, and I had to sit on a really gross bathroom floor, unable to get up. I fumbled around for my cell phone and called my caretaker to come into the restroom to help. I was grossed out, embarrassed, sad, exhausted, and in pain.

Unfamiliar places

I am a huge proponent of packing my purse full of medications and tools I might need in the event that I get sick from any of my illnesses. I had nausea medication and a change of clothing, luckily. My caretaker got a cup of ice and made a makeshift cold compress for me, and my caretaker also helped me get cleaned up and standing. I literally felt like a small, helpless baby...and began to cry because I felt so embarrassed and tired. There was also no way I could get into a moving car again. I felt as though I had no way to escape.

We sat in an attached Krystal's next to the gas station, while I rested my head on the cool table /paper towel cold compress we’d made for what seemed like ages. I couldn’t move and I felt overwhelmed to be so helpless in such a public and strange place---even with my preparedness bag and my knowledge of what helps me when the migraines hit, I was stuck. My caretaker acted so patiently and caring, and I wished I could do more to get us moving forward.

Not being able to control migraine's impact

After awhile, I began to feel well enough to make it back to the car, but I felt very queasy and the rest of the ride was extremely painful. I put multiple layers over my head to make it as dark as possible, but the car ride was still a little too warm even with the AC blasting, the throbbing in my head continued, and my nausea came back in bouts throughout the ride.

As soon as we got home, I felt so sick and exhausted that I couldn’t get out of the car for a few minutes, even though I knew my bed was just a few feet away if I could just get up. Migraine is extremely debilitating and can shape our experiences in ways that we don’t expect, and that we sometimes can’t control. At times I feel as though I literally have to bend to the will of my migraines, and when there is nausea or vertigo accompanying the head pain, it can get out of control. I am lucky my caretaker was there to help me, but I still felt so small and awful.

Have you been in situations where migraine left you feeling helpless and out of control in an unfamiliar environment? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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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