expression of pain during a migraine

Migraines suck and you can get through them. Three tips to ease your burden.

Knowing I won’t be able to do the dog walk tomorrow, I text my friend: “Massive mirage will gave to like tomorrow.” Something feels off about that but I’m too far gone to make out the letters on my phone. The lights flicker to the right side of my vision and within seconds, I’ve lost the ability to speak and the pain is tearing through my skull. The migraine takes over.

Two and a half days later, the migraine has faded and once again I’m wondering why I haven’t figured out a way to cope better. By now, I know I get migraines. Getting organized will help them wreak less havoc.

Three tips for dealing with migraines

1. Make a migraine box

Find a shoe box – or anything prettier – and put the medicine you’ll need in there. I need Tylenol and some of the specific migraine medication I keep hoping will work. Pedialyte for when I’m done puking up everything I’ve eaten in the 12 hours before the migraine hits. A bottle of water. Some crackers. What do you know you’ll need? Set it up now because once you’re sick, it’s too late.

2. Make some migraine meals

As I drifted in and out of sleep, I dreamt of red lentil soup. But what I ate was random crap. What food does your body need when you get sick? Make some of it now and freeze it in small portions. You won’t have the brain power to deal with a block of frozen soup when the time comes.

3. Make sure you have clean pj’s

Falling into bed without loose fitting pj’s makes everything worse. Keep a specific pair clean and ready for use.

You can adapt this for any crushing illness you have that descends unpredictably. You might not know when your MS is going to flare up, but you know that it will.

Face your reality

Not making a migraine box or some migraine meals or stashing a set of clean pj’s somewhere doesn’t make the migraines or chronic fatigue or MS or rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or fibromyalgia or whatever it is you’re dealing with stay away.

Organize so when the next round hits, it doesn’t take you by surprise for the 79th time. And if you’re reading this and rolling your eyes – a migraine, how bad could it really be? – I’m happy you have no idea and I hope you never find out.

Apply this to the rest of your life

What happens regularly that you don’t like acknowledging? Do a little organizing ahead of time and it won’t be quite as miserable. I can help.

by Lucy Kelly



22 comments

  1. Oh the migraine train is a bumpy one! I’m so sorry you deal with this. This is such great advice and you’re right, it can translate to any other kit to prepare for other types of illnesses/circumstances. I make similar preparations for my menstrual cycle. It’s sometimes very debilitating and I want to be prepared if it gets bad.

  2. I’m so sorry that you had such a difficult time with the migraine this round. I never had one, but my husband used to get them and they were so debilitating. You couldn’t really plan for when they’d appear. And they never arrived at a good time. Is there even such a thing? Steve would get the aura first and then it would start. Sometimes there would be vomiting. Sleep, quiet, and darkness were a must. He always carries Imatrex with him, which seems that if taken the moment he notices, it wards off the worse symptoms.

    I love that you’ve figured out the things you need to as pre-care for yourself. Hopefully there won’t be too many next times. But if they do happen, you’ll be armed with your “migraine box,” clean pjs, soup, and all. Hugs and love to you.

    1. I’m so sorry Steve has to cope with that and glad that Imatrex is a good solution for him. A good reminder for me to check back with my doctor and see what new meds have become available for migraines.

  3. I’m just floored by your description of the awfulness of your migraines. UGH.. I’m so sorry and hope that you have someone helpful there with you. The tips you offer are terrific and will help mitigate each dreadful event. Planning and prep work often feel a little over the top but are so appreciated in the time of need.

    1. Thank you Diane, you’re so right – planning ahead of time is almost never something to regret. So much better not to have to need something than to have to do without at a time like this.

  4. So sorry to see that you suffer with migraines, Lucy! I get them too, especially as I crossed the late 40s into the 50s. Hormones, I think! It does help to have a plan in place, and to make anything easier if you can. Fortunately for me, if I get the aura when I am awake, and can then immediately take Advil, I can usually head off the worst of it. Oddly, after my second Pfizer shot, I felt like I had a bad migraine. Weird, right? I think being organized helps us survive any difficult situation better.

    1. So sorry you get these too, Seana. Interesting that the Covid shot triggered one – I definitely had strong headaches but they stayed this side of migraines. Maybe this was a delayed reaction!

  5. Ugh Lucy, I’m SO sorry to hear about your migraines. I don’t get them but my friend Stephanie does. She has a nutrition degree and to supplement her physician’s advice, did a ton of research and recipe development and lifestyle hacks and wrote a website and book. Here’s the link to her website where the book is also featured, and hoping you and others with migraines find something for your arsenal, along with your excellent blog post suggestions.

    https://migrainereliefplan.com

  6. I totally relate to you on this. The only thing that works for me is Benadryl + Imatrex followed by 3 hours of sleep.

  7. In my previous career/life from mid-teens until late 30s, my migraines were almost as bad as yours, and prep like these takes at least some of the sting out of bad days. I’m active in the diabetes care community, and we similarly have a lot of prep for the worst days to mitigate the worst of it. I’m sorry you had such a rough time, but your advice is stellar.

    1. I’m sorry you had those bad migraines, Julie and that you have to be vigilant in mitigating rough diabetic days too, but I’m glad you’re on it. I’m quite sure the diabetes care community benefits greatly from your involvement. Your organizing skills will be helping a ton of people.

  8. Hi Lucy. Loved this blog but so sorry you have to deal with migraines! The migraine box reminds me of what we therapists call a self care kit for when depression and/ or anxiety is giving you a rough time. Fill your kit with items that bring joy, chocolate, pictures, tea, a blanket to help comfort the soul.

  9. Oh, my goodness! I’m glad I don’t get migraines. And I’m sorry you do. But, yes, anything similar that happens periodically is made a tiny bit (or a lot) better by planning for it like this.

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