A guest post by John Martinez with Axon Optics…
A day in the life of a migraineur is not a normal day. It’s like a day of playing dodgeball, but if you get hit, you have to call out of work and live with head-splitting pain. Migraine triggers can appear at any time, and the migraine can rear its ugly head on a moment’s notice.
Living with migraines can sometimes feel like going on vacation, without any of the relaxation of going on a vacation. You need to check the weather, make sure you’ve packed everything you need, and always have a backup plan in case things go south.
If you have a friend or family member that experiences migraines, this is worth a read. A day in the life of a migraineur revolves around migraines: avoiding them, treating them, and explaining them to others.
Avoiding Migraine Triggers
A day in the life of a migraineur often includes dodging triggers. The list of migraine triggers goes on as long as a migraine itself. Any of the following could also cause a head-splitting migraine:
- Hormonal changes
- Changes in the weather
- Certain levels of physical activity
- Strong smells
- Bright lights
- Loud music
- Dietary changes
- Caffeine or alcohol
A day in the life of a migraineur may include turning down an invitation to happy hour, staying inside when they want to go outside, or trying to change an event to a more quiet and low-key location. All the while, the migraineur is attempting to stay calm, because too much stress may just bring on the migraine they are trying to avoid.
Throughout the day, migraineurs may be recording their diet and activities in order to discover and control their triggers. Not all people with migraines are triggered by the same things – the process of pinpointing triggers and then avoiding them can take up an entire block of a migraineur’s day.
What’s In A Migraineur’s Purse?
It’s not always easy to dodge these triggers; how are you supposed to know when a change in barometric pressure is going to cause numbness and pain throughout your entire body?
If migraineurs can’t avoid migraine triggers, they will have to treat migraine symptoms. This means carrying a bag with everything they need to deal with migraines.
Over-the-counter medications offer some of the quickest relief to migraines. It’s always good to have your painkiller of choice on hand when symptoms start to arise. Over the counter medications include Aleve/naproxen, Excedrin Migraine, ibuprofen, and Motrin migraine.
For those of us who have severe, chronic migraines there are also prescription medications that you can take when you have a migraine coming on, imitrex being the most commonly used. There are quite a few options for daily medications and even some shots that are supposed to work for a month at a time, but these are new and not always covered by insurance, like any other med, they don’t work for everyone.
Hormonal medications may also help to regulate migraines – but this is not applicable to everyone. Female migraineurs should talk to their doctor about taking contraceptives or other hormonal medication if they have migraines.
A Cold or Hot Compress
This lifesaver can also provide relief in a pinch. Cold or hot compresses against the back of the neck or on the forehead can help to numb some of the excruciating pain of a migraine. Unfortunately, it won’t treat blurry vision or other types of numbness.
I recommend FL-41 Glasses specifically!
Migraine glasses, also known as FL-41 glasses, have begun to give a lot of migraineurs hope. These rose-tinted glasses have been crafted to block out rays that trigger photophobia (sensitivity to light.) They can be worn indoors or outdoors. Migraineurs who don’t enjoy wearing glasses can order FL-41 contact lenses.
If you have ever experienced photophobia, you probably get significant relief by wearing sunglasses indoors. However, research shows that over time, it can make your light sensitivity WORSE. Maybe too much of a good thing really can be bad? If you want more information on this, check out, “Why Wearing Sunglasses Inside is a Bad Idea” by John Martinez at Axon Optics.
Caffeine – coffee, coke, etc.
Like hormonal medication, caffeine can either cause migraines or treat it. A small can of cold brew or a soda sometimes helps migraine patients, but this is not a widely successful trick and is definitely not a long term answer.
Sometimes nothing helps with a migraine and you are stuck laying in bed in the dark, wishing away the pain and nausea and whatever else comes along with your migraine, everyone has their own “aura” or mix of symptoms – light sensitivity and sound sensitivity are some of the most brutal triggers, so stepping out of your cave, trying to turn on a light to focus on a task, or even just looking at your iPad to Netflix your migraine away can cause a massive wave of killer discomforts of all kind.
Eye masks/sleep masks and ear plugs are your friend. Noise machines with peaceful background sounds like fans, white noise, rain, etc. can also help block out the more painful noises and give your brain something to focus on that ins’t “dangerous.”
Most importantly, don’t fight alone, except when you’re mid-migraine and can’t stand even the smallest of noises.
Whether you find your support through religion, family or friends, your dog, or an inspirational playlist on your phone, it is important to have something that helps you stay positive and hopeful. There are also support networks on facebook and other social media sites that can make a big difference. Of course, having a supportive doctor is also very important, so keep that number in your wallet, too.
…But Don’t Take Our Word For It
Every migraineur has a different experience. While some people feel like an ice pick is piercing their temple, other people experience numb fingers and blurry vision. (These are real quotes, by the way.) Some people may experience symptoms for mere minutes, others, for hours or even days.
Whatever it feels like, it doesn’t just feel like “a headache.” Lucky for most, you won’t ever have to feel this pain, but part of being a migraineur involves telling people that migraines are not just headaches, that they are serious, and that they need more awareness, more research, and more treatment options, much like any other chronic, misunderstood illness.
Guest blogger John Martinez, in association with Axon Optics, edited / posted by Positively Rachel as an awareness post for chronic migraines
Thank you, John for sharing with us, as always I am excited and grateful to have a guest blogger!
If you want to read more about migraines and how they affect daily life, you can check out my own work on a previous post, “Chronic Migraines: More Than Just a Headache” or “Kids Get Migraines, Too!”.