4 steps to preparing for your next migraineLast Updated:
Just as the workday was ending heavy thunderstorms rolled into town yesterday evening. Soon tornado sirens sounded the warning to take shelter. Without any drama, anxiety, or stress, I picked up a few things and moved to the basement where I called my husband and kids to check in. About the most dramatic event was discovering water leaks in a few places near the baseboards. Moments after my husband arrived home, a second siren signaled the “all clear.”
You can stop freaking out now.
Tornado warnings are fairly common in the Midwest. Rarely does one actually form, let alone touch down anywhere near us. The closest I’ve ever been to an active tornado is about 10 miles. Seriously, it’s not a big deal. I know what to do to stay as safe as possible. My family is well-prepared to cope with power outages, broken water pipes, and we have more wet-weather gear than we can possibly use. I stay so calm because I know what to do. I’ve been through hundreds of tornado warnings — probably more than a thousand — in my lifetime.
It’s the same way with migraine attacks.
If you’ve ever experienced a migraine attack, you know that there’s nothing easy or comfortable about them. Yet there are many things you can do to make the next attack more comfortable, and hopefully shorter in duration. Once you know what to expect, it’s much easier to get prepared and remain calm. The trick is preparing ahead of time.
1. Don’t be an ostrich.
If you wait to act until the attack is out of control, of course you will panic. You can’t just ignore the reality that sooner later, you will be face-to-face with migraine. So stop pretending and start preparing.
2. Stock an emergency kit.
Think about previous migraine attacks. What did you wish you had? Do you remember what helped? Put those items in a small duffle bag or backpack. Think outside-the-box. Don’t limit yourself to just medicines. Did heat or cold help more? Were you delayed in taking your medicine because you didn’t have a drink? If so, pack a water bottle. Were you too cold? Add a light blanket. Were you too hot? Add a personal fan. Did lights or sound bother you? Pack a sleep mask, dark sunglasses, and ear plugs.
3. Hold a disaster drill.
Pretend you are having a migraine attack. Grab that bag and enlist the help of loved ones. When you are finished, review the drill. What went right? Did you miss anything essential? Maybe you forgot to account for nausea or vomiting. What would you add to the bag or do differently in the face of a real attack? How do you plan on handling emergencies that exhaust your resources? Do you know how to get help? Try different scenarios: at home alone, at work, out shopping, away from home for the weekend, and more. You know from experience that migraine doesn’t wait until you are safe at home. So get prepared!
4. Write simple instructions.
Create simple-to-read instructions that give others all the information they need to help you. Make sure to include important things like the medicines you take, your allergies, your doctor’s name and phone number, your emergency contact, and instructions on how to help you.