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Catch 22 of migraines

So, I have semi-chronic migraines (not sure if they’re often enough to be considered chronic anymore). And there’s a huge Catch-22 to having migraines.

I knew I was going to be sick today. I’ve felt really sh%$#! the past few days, I’ve been taking a lot of vitamins to help curb the impending attack, and I had that feeling this morning that I get before an attack. I also had class (college life will be the end of me, I swear). Well, I can’t DRIVE. If I get an attack while I’m on the road, that’ll be very bad. So, I take the bus.

I’m in class, doing my class thing, I usually get really bad headaches from leaning over the computer for a few hours, and guess what set off the migraine that has been building up for the past few days. Yup! A headache.

So now on to the catch-22 of this story. Bus won’t be around for 45 minutes and it’s a 1 hour ride home. I know I get nauseated when I have a migraine. I know that I get really loopy with my medicine. My migraines without medication are debilitating. So I’m stuck. I’ll not be in the safety of my home for 2 hours, I’m not around anyone I know, do I take my medication and hope nothing goes wrong because of the side effects? Do I not take it, get the debilitating migraine, and hope both that I can still function and don’t vomit?

I haven’t seen a story on this, but having migraines with abortive medication puts you in real Catch-22 situations. If you put yourself in charge of your own safety (ie drive yourself, etc), well can you function with a migraine? Can you function on your meds? If you decide to take the bus can you ensure your own safety with a migraine? How do you know you won’t vomit on public transit? Can you ensure your own safety on your meds?

I feel that this is a real issue migrainuers that have to lean heavily on abortive medications have to experience. Damned it you do, damned if you don’t. So, I ended up not taking my medication, only reason why I didn’t vomit on the bus was there was someone shadowing the bus driver to learn the route that could get the trash bag for me. But what if I had taken my medicine? I can’t focus on it. I’d be extremely out of it. I can’t ensure that I’m safe on it. Hell, I can’t ensure that I’ll be able to get on the bus. I can’t ensure that I won’t pass out somewhere or fall over and hurt myself from dizziness.

I’m basically damned either way. Does anyone understand?

And as I write this from the safety of my own home, I am VERY high from my medication. Luckily the effects only last a few hours, which doesn’t last nearly as long as the migraine.

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.


  • mygrainetoo
    2 years ago

    Bless your heart, that’s a terrible choice to have to make. My abortive meds must not be as strong as yours, but I usually try to bite off 1/2 pill at a time. I know if the 1/2 will work about 15 minutes after taking it to at least keep the migraine from getting worse. Without them a full blown attack can result in vomiting and passing out (from vomiting). You have an empathetic ally here.

  • Karen Rudd
    2 years ago

    I think we all understand and have had our own Catch-22s. My most frequent one is I’m at work, migraine hits and I need meds. I’m not safe driving with the migraibne, and if I take my meds, the law will consider me to be DUI. Neither is acceptable, so I am stuck between the proberbial rock and a hard place. Ultimately I have to choose what effects my driving least and in my case, that is my meds. I hope that I will never to explain it to a judge. I know fellow sufferers won’t uestion m choice, my husband, who experiences the effect of my migraines first hand won’t either. I hate being in that position in the first place, having a migraine that effects me so severely, much less having to make the choice. However, rest easy knowing that there are hundreds if not thousands or more of us being forced to make similar choices every second of every day, and we support you and whatever decision you do come up with. I know we’re silent, but we’re out here thinking of and hoping today will be better.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi there Karen,
    I am so sorry that you are forced to be in these positions. Certainly not a situation that anyone should have to contend with. Here is actually an article one of our contributors shared in regards to Driving under the influence of migraine.

    Thanks for taking the time to show your support to this member and please know we are always here for you too for support.

    Take good care,
    Joanna ( Team)

  • faeriefate author
    2 years ago

    Oh, I recently experienced another Catch 22.

    I went to a doctor for unrelated reasons, and mentioned one symptom I experience on my medication is shortness of breath. The doctor (obviously) Said I should quit the medication immediately and see my doctor. The thing is, my primary care has long since run out of options for me. I’ll see my migraine specialist in a month.

    I know the whole having a hard time breathing thing is bad and has negative implications on my health, but the whole not being able to hold down food for 48 hours at a time every time I get a migraine when I get migraines weekly is also very problematic for my health, obviously.

    This combined with the fact that I won’t be able to see my primary care for another week, and that won’t even be my primary care but one of his PAs means that I really have to consider, what’s worse? Not eating for 48 hours and being left physically unable to move when the migraine is gone, or just being short of breath and using an oxygen concentrator to get my oxygen at normal levels.

    I’ve had to strongly consider it, and the shortness of breath only gets to be a problem for my health if I’m either congested or experiencing asthma at the same time. Plus the shortness of breath only lasts a short period of time (2-3 hours) compared to not eating.

    It’s another Catch-22. Only this time it’s not my physical safety, but my physical health that’s on the line.

  • jrat
    2 years ago

    I am from a small town where there is no bus service I rely on friends and neighbours to get me home , I can’t imagine how you manage public transportation heavily medicated – you are amazing !

  • faeriefate author
    2 years ago

    Yeah, it’s f@$%^&* scary. You’re either waiting in a public place for an hour waiting for the bus then in public transportion for another hour, not including the time it takes to walk home from said bus, or you’re dealing with all of that with an incapacitating migraine and vomiting the whole way.

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