Creating a migraine sanctuaryLast Updated:
Having migraine means that sometimes you need a safe sanctuary in which to retreat with easy access to everything you need. For many years I would wake in the middle of the night to a migraine attack in full-force. In serious pain, I was also disoriented and trying desperately not to wake my husband. Inevitably, I needed his help. Every migraine attack meant that we both lost sleep. To make matters worse, I would have no idea where to tell him to find whatever it was that I needed.
Finally, we sat down to develop a plan to solve this problem. We knew that migraine attacks were going to keep happening so we had to find a better way to respond to them. For starters, we reviewed all the times that I had needlessly suffered because I didn’t have ready access to all the treatments and comfort measures that helped me cope through an attack. Next, we discussed the times when trying to help me was made more difficult because no one knew where I’d left a needed item or medication. Not being able to help me was frustrating my husband and causing him to lose sleep.
Here is what we did to solve these problems.
We purchased and hung thermal, black-out curtains on all the windows in the master bedroom. Even if I needed to retreat in the middle of the day, it would always be dark enough to soothe my oversensitive eyes. I have a few wide-brimmed hats and some dark Theraspecs glasses to block out glare, too.
We purchased a larger mini-fridge with a built-in freezer and filled that freezer with enough ice packs to get me through days of prolonged attacks. It was large enough that we included some ice trays, too. I have collected several different types of ice packs over the years. Some require the addition of ice cubes, while others contain a gel that can be frozen without becoming hard. Some include Velcro straps so they can be affixed to my head and used hands-free. I even have a few with holes for my eyes so I can wear them and still distract myself by watching TV or surfing the internet when I feel up to it.
Sometimes heat feels better than cold. So we placed a heating pad and some rice-filled wraps in a drawer of my nightstand. With the microwave close by, help is never more than a few minutes away. We put a large sticker over the time display on the microwave so that the bright display wouldn’t keep us awake and another smaller sticker on the quickset button most often used so we could find it quickly in the dark.
Sometimes, just being alone isn’t quiet enough. That’s why silicone ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones were placed in my nightstand, too.
Hydration is critical during prolonged attacks. Prior to this new strategy, I either had to risk falling down the stairs in order to refill my water bottle or wait until someone checked in on me. As an improvement, we stocked the refrigerator with water bottles, Sprite, Gatorade, and even some energy drinks that I use to abort cluster headache attacks.
I don’t have much of an appetite during an attack, but I still need to eat. Plus, during the postdrome – that hangover feeling when the pain ends – I need protein to help me bounce back. So we took the time to stock a small shelf with wholesome snacks and foods that are easy to digest.
Sometimes I need time to recover after the pain subsides. Also, there are rare times when the pain lingers for several days. In both cases, I get bored. Although I’m not in any shape to accomplish routine tasks, I do need something to do. So, we placed a lap tray under my side of the bed and stocked up on several different styles of pillows. When feeling up to it, I am then able to prop myself up and read, color, or use my laptop to watch movies, surf the internet, or write when I am ready.
We put all my prescription, over-the-counter, and natural medicines in the top drawer of my nightstand. Any meds requiring refrigeration were stored in the mini-fridge. Syringes, alcohol swabs, and band-aids were stored in the nightstand, too.
I also have Cluster Headache, so a full oxygen tank with mask and tubing stays next to my bed all the time. There is a small flashlight hooked to the cart so I can see to adjust the flow rate even in the dark.
By putting everything I might need during an attack all in one place, we were able to save ourselves the frustration of searching for needed items in the middle of the night. It also makes it easy to quickly retreat to the bedroom, knowing that everything I need is close by.
This article is part of the July 2016 Ultimate Blog Challenge