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Living with Migraine

Thinking of re-location

  • By Stepvw

    I have had migraines for 16 years, and in the last year they have turned chronic. It has been an absolutely miserable year, and I don’t want this to continue!

    I’m starting to apply for new jobs, and before I do that, I’m looking into possibly re-locating. I’m currently in Houston, and although I’ve lived here almost all of my life, for some reason this year has just been killer. Anyway, I’ve looked into a lot of locations, and I’m thinking of Southern California if I can swing it.

    I have problems when the barometric pressure changes, and when it “almost rains”, you know, when it feels and looks like rain all day but never quite gets around to it. Usually a rainstorm will help, but not every time. It’s so confusing. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Stepvw

    This is a big step indeed. Honestly, my own Migraines would respond to relocation, I’d do it in a heart beat, and with the cheers of my family. There’s just no realy way to know if a relocation is going to help you though. There are many things that come into play too…

    For instance…

    Houston and California have very different weather, but this also results in different plants. If your Migraines are triggered at all by these different plants, etc, you could end up with problems.

    Finding a good specialist may be more difficult, or easier when you move. So, this may be something you want to really consider since you haven’t decided on a specific location yet. There are some A.Ma.Zing specialists in California that could be life changing for you.

    Have you considered a sort of vacation there to see if you feel any better? I’m not sure anything short would be very helpful, but it might be worth considering.

    Have you talked to other Migraineurs in the area you’re thinking about relocating too? There is not magical place where Migraines don’t exist (boy, don’t we wish!) so you’ll find some wherever you go. Understanding their triggers may help you gauge your own.

    I don’t know if this will be helpful for you at all, but I wrote about weather triggers and some things that might make you think before making this big decision…

    Migraine Triggers: The Power of Weather https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-triggers-the-power-of-weather/

    As you go through your thought processes, I hope you’ll share them here so others contemplating the same type of move might also learn a thing or two!

    ~Ellen

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  • By Kerrie Smyres Moderator

    I relocated to Phoenix because of my migraines. Weather was a huge trigger for me, especially cloudy days. The decision was made a little easier because I grew up here and have friends here. It was also easier because I was previously living in Boston, where my migraines were horrendous and I barely knew anyone.

    Before moving back to Phoenix, I visited for two three-week periods. Each time I felt great. I was housebound and nearly bedridden in Boston, but when I visited Phoenix, I was able to leave the house nearly every day. It was a huge improvement that lasted for the first three months after I moved to Phoenix… after three months, the migraines got pretty bad again. Not topping out at level 9 or 10 pain as they did in Boston, but level 8 pain was common and it hit a 7 nearly every day. So, while I was definitely better in Phoenix, it wasn’t a drastic improvement.

    This is just my experience. I’ve heard from other people who have relocated because of migraine and felt appreciably better up to a year later.

    Whenever someone asks me directly if I think they should move for migraine, my response is always guarded. Not only because I didn’t improve the migraines didn’t improve much when I moved to Phoenix, but I’ve relocated three times while having severe chronic migraine. The first two times were for my husband’s job and it was very hard emotionally. Trying to get established in a new city when I had chronic migraine was incredibly difficult. Having no support system was bad in Seattle and horrible in Boston. Despite loving Seattle, it was very difficult to make friends and become part of the community when I was so sick. Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if the move reduced your migraines, but there’s no guarantee of that.

    Since you’ve lived in Houston for a long time and have been chronic for 16 years, I’m wondering if the change in your migraines is something other than weather. Unless the weather is drastically different this year, it seems that if weather were the trigger, it would have been happening for more than a year.

    Weather used to be a HUGE trigger for me, but now that I’ve found other helpful treatments for my migraines, weather is barely a trigger for me at all. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain in Phoenix and there are thunderstorms, or if it’s cloudy in Seattle, I barely notice a change in my migraines.

    Unfortunately, like with so many things related to migraine, there’s really no way to tell how you’re going to react until you try it. If you’ve thought through your triggers and really think weather is the major issue, then maybe a move is for you. I wish you the best of luck in making your decision.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Stepvw,

    Kerrie has experience that I don’t when it comes to moving. I have been to many places for 2 weeks to a month, but since traveling and barometric changes as a result of the trip itself as well as changes in where I may have moved, have always been a problem for me, so it’s difficult for me to tell if an actual move there would matter.

    As to one thing that you might want to also keep in mind, is that Migraine is a progressive condition. Triggers frequently change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. You spent 16 yrs in Houston, but that’s not necessarily going to mean that the weather isn’t the problem. It could be that you have become more sensitive to the weather, and what wasn’t a problem before, is now.

    Also, triggers aren’t all created equally, and this can be really helpful in discovering what your triggers are. Let me explain…

    If you think of your Migraines like a stack of children’s building blocks, and the blocks as the triggers you are susceptible to, we can use this as a good analogy to how triggers actually work. Triggers are the building blocks, but each trigger is worth a different number of blocks. A bad trigger might be worth 3 or 4 blocks, while a mild trigger might only be worth 1 block.

    Just as when you were a child playing with blocks, you discovered that you could only make a tower *so high* before it would come crashing down. You try hard to make it higher each time, and sometimes it goes just a tadge bit taller, but the crashing point is usually about the same point. This is your trigger threshold.

    If you combine the two thoughts – triggers are cumulative and we can only deal with so many before a Migraine attack occurs – it can make it easier to understand why sometimes we get a Migraine from a certain trigger, and other times we don’t. It also explains why it can be devilishly difficult to figure trigers out. One day we look at, say eggs as a trigger, and we eat eggs and we get a Migraine. We think to ourselves “okay, eggs are a trigger.” We didn’t take anything else we were doing though. Eggs might be worth 3 blocks to you, but the other things you did might be worth 10. The eggs were just the tipping point. The next time you eat eggs and don’t get a Migraine doesn’t mean they aren’t a trigger, just that you didn’t reach the tipping point with all your triggers combined.

    This can be difficult to understand. It’s also one of the most important concepts to understand when looking for your triggers. Hopefully it will help others who read this not to be quite so frustrated, and help you understand why it’s possible that you are now reacting to a weather trigger you didn’t seem to have before. 🙂

    ~Ellen

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