Self-care and Migraines

Warning, this is a long post. Migraine headaches. If you’ve ever had one then you know firsthand how awful they are. If you’ve never had one, consider yourself fortunate. Even if you’ve never had one, you likely know a migraine sufferer and have heard how awful they are. I think it’s safe to say we all know having a migraine is not fun.

I’ve been a migraine suffer (with Aura) since age 14. I remember the day very well. I was in my 9th-grade algebra class talking to my friend when I noticed I couldn’t see out of right eye. I thought – oh, the sun from the window is in my eyes. Class started and slowly the spots went away. toward the end of class, my head started throbbing with a pain that was so intense it made me nauseous. I stumbled out of class and down the hallway in a daze of pain. I had never experienced pain like that before. I remember going to the restroom and throwing up in pain. I barely made it the office and asked the staff to call my parents. My dad came and picked me up, told me to lay down, and said – you’ve got a migraine. Not to sound dramatic, but my whole life changed that day.

Over the next few years, I would get roughly 1-2 migraines a year. The migraine would always affect my vision, make me sick to my stomach, and hurt horribly. When I married and had children, the migraines intensified. They would appear roughly every 2-3 months and the pain would send me to the hospital searching for relief from nausea and pain. As I’ve aged my migraine patterns have changed. The attacks sometimes space out to 1-2 a year, 1 every 6 months, or they show up every 3-4 months. They will follow a pattern for a bit then change again. I don’t have many known triggers except the usual headache triggers such as dehydration, caffeine, and stress. Basically, my migraines come and go as they please. The good thing is, I don’t typically get nearly as sick to my stomach as I used to and the whole attack lasts about 3-4 hours.

Managing migraines has been tough for me. I’m not a huge medicine fan, a neurologist has never offered me any advice aside from some meds with scary sounding side effects (heart arrhythmia, weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, seizures, death, etc etc. sounds fun huh?). One thing I did learn from the neurologist is there are different types of migraines. I experience the Classic Migraine with Auras (visual disturbances or warnings before a headache starts) and I have Migraine without Aura. Each migraine has a different pattern. The Classic Migraine lasts about 3-4 hours and the Migraine without Aura can last up to 3 days and in all honestly is almost worse than the Classic Migraine. The thing that makes the Classic a Migraine worse is the Aura. The Aura is scary because anything that affects your vision just feels so weird and wrong.

Over the years I’ve found some ways to self-care during a migraine attack. I’ve found self-care is crucial to how severe the migraine attack is. Each migraine sufferer has different treatment plans and my treatment plan is as natural as possible since I avoid prescription meds whenever I can.

  • Stay hydrated. I struggle with staying hydrated but when I’m hydrated the attacks are fewer between and less severe
  • Wear Sunglasses. I have to be careful with how the sun hits my eyes. Sunlight is a trigger and sunglasses help protect my eyes.
  • Caffeine. I usually avoid caffeine because it can be a trigger but occasionally I’ll sip a decaffeinate drink during an attack.
  • Stress. I try to keep my stress level in check because stress definitely triggers an attack.
  • Sleep. During a severe attack, I try to stay as calm as possible and stay in a dark room. If I can fall asleep it helps to mange the pain. When I wake-up, the attack is usually almost over. It won’t be a peaceful sleep but it does help to pass the time and relaxing helps ease the pain.
  • Relax. The more relaxed I can get is the more it helps to ease the pain.
  • Warn or cold towels. The type of pain depends on if I use warm or cold towels. Typically cold towels are my go-to. A cold towel on the back of neck helps ease nausea and a cold towel on the head helps ease pain.
  • Keep Track. Keeping track of my migraines doesn’t make them feel better but it does help me to have a genial idea of a trigger or when it’s time for a possible attack. Knowing I’m due for one helps me to be aware and prepared.

Send your tips my way!


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