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Migraines Run My Life

I have lived with migraines since grade school, and it seems like they control my life. Almost every daily routine is to avoid or minimize migraine symptoms. At this point, my headaches rarely get to the throbbing pain, laying down in a dark room stage. It’s been years since I woke up at 3:30 with a stabbing pain near my eye. But that pain can attack me any time I’m not careful. Medication and a quiet lifestyle usually keep my symptoms to a mild level.
At this point, I don’t what I do because of my own preference and which habits developed as a way to avoid the throbbing pain.


I eat or snack every 3 or 4 hours during the day. Having low blood sugar is a sure way to trigger a headache, so I eat too much and am 50 pounds overweight. . I just cannot diet when dealing with migraine symptoms.
Other routines of mine include:

  • Keep my schedule flexible and cancel plans if I do not feel well. Plan time to rest after each activity.
  • Avoid bright lights. Fluorescent lighting triggers my migraines, and it is everywhere now. I dropped out of groups that meet in homes because too many headaches were triggered by glaring light bulbs. I often wear sunglasses indoors.
  •  Avoid perfume and artificial scent. Even shopping can be a problem for me, with migraines triggered by scent in stores.
  • Avoid loud noise.
  • Avoid travel by airplane. The noise and vibration make me sick with a migraine on every trip.
  • No 3D movies. I went to one 3D movie and afterwards felt very dizzy, disoriented and it was hard to speak, though I had no headache. The following day I was so confused at work that I had to leave.
  • Pay attention to how I feel and stop and rest immediately if I become too tired or any migraine symptoms begin. Plan every activity to make sure I will be able to rest and/or leave if I do not feel well.

I hate to be a weakling. It makes me angry that I can become ill for days because of lights or noise that other people barely notice. I resent the limitations on my life and envy people who can travel and do things without worrying if it will start a migraine. I’d love to be able to look forward to flying someplace for a short vacation, instead of knowing that I would spend the entire trip with a throbbing head and nausea, looking for a quiet, dark place to rest.

Fortunately, I enjoy needlework. On the many weekend days when I stay inside, avoiding sudden movement and bright light, I knit, embroider, or spin yarn. The rhythmic movement is calming and I enjoy creating beautiful things by hand.

I appreciate how lucky I am to be able to keep my migraines at a mostly mild level. I watched my mother suffer for years with daily migraines. But sometimes it is very hard not to feel envious when friends talk about trips or activities that I know I could never do without spending days ill with a migraine. How would my life be different if I did not have migraines? I would be more active: hiking and bicycling on bright, sunny days; going out to listen to a band, or flying to see some of the places I only hear about now.

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

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Lynn Marie,
    You have a really good handle on your triggers and how to manage them. Unfortunately, it can lead to a rather quiet life. I know exactly how you feel. It’s great that you’ve found an outlet for your creativity and have a hobby you can enjoy despite the pain.

    You mentioned wanting to be more active. I encourage you to move more. I have been exactly where you are. After years of living in the dark and rarely going out, I needed a change. I started slow- just trying to walk a few blocks. Then I began to add more exercise in my routine. It was hard. Sometimes being active can exacerbate the headaches. But I learned how to listen to my body and not push myself. Even some basic, easy exercise or stretching can make you feel better. It’s amazing how much it has helped me to feel more in control.

    I wrote about my struggle with exercise: http://migraine.com/blog/crunching-my-way-to-the-zoo/

    Best wishes to you!
    -Katie

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Gentle stretching is definitely a way to start and not feel overwhelmed. I know I curl into a ball and clench my fists when I’m having a bad attack. Just trying to counteract all that tension can bring some relief.
    Good luck!
    -Katie

  • Lynn Marie author
    5 years ago

    Katie,

    Thanks for your comment. I read your story about exercise. It takes times to learn how much you can push yourself without causing problems, but worth it. I’ve allowed my exercise to become very inconsistent and need to find a new routine that works for me. I know I would feel better in general. I used to walk to the train after work pretty often but got out of the habit of doing it. I hadn’t thought of stretching exercises, but that sounds like a really good idea too – slow movement that would not trigger a headache or asthma.

    Lynn

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