Social planning

Source: by Stuart Miles
Source: by Stuart Miles

My husband sent me an email this week about a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, just days before Christmas. The tickets are very affordable, too. You’re probably thinking, “Sounds like fun!” I’m embarrassed to admit that my first thought was, “What if I get a migraine? I hate to waste money on tickets we can’t use.”

Seriously, that’s what I came up with. Then my mind went to memories of the last Christmas concert we tried to attend. I had the flu and a migraine, but forced myself to go anyway. We had to leave within the first hour. That was almost 10 years ago. We haven’t tried since. What a crying shame! Winter tends to be the worst time for me. I’ve missed more Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties than I can count. So the risk is high. Still, we deserve to have a romantic night out enjoying talented musicians.

This is where theory meets reality. I really want to go to that concert. I also know that a migraine might keep me from even going.  I could also feel great, enjoy the night, and not have any negative after effects, but I doubt it.  All those lights and noise will surely bring on a migraine at some point. I can accept the presence of migraine. I just refuse to accept defeat by letting it keep me from the enjoyable things in life.

For anyone with frequent migraines, this process is familiar. It’s not that I don’t want to have a social life. It just takes a bit more planning.  Before any special event is put on the calendar I consider the impact of migraine.

• What is the likelihood a migraine will interfere with this event?
• Does the event include any potential triggers and are they worth the risk?
• Can other family members participate in the event migraine keeps me at home?
• Can I participate with a manageable migraine or migraine hangover?
• Will it cost money that won’t be recouped if I can’t attend?
• Can the event be rescheduled if my presence is required or important?

Obviously, there are some events I try harder to attend than others. However, my family and most of my friends understand that all RSVPs are tentative. I really wish that everyone had such understanding loved ones. In my more insecure moments, I still catch myself wondering how many invitations don’t get sent because the host knows I’m not likely to show up.

This isn’t an easy reality to accept. Resentments can build up even in the healthiest of families. Living life on “tentative” can take its toll. It can also be tempting for a migraineur to decline all invitations by default. This is not a healthy solution. While there may be times when attacks flare frequently enough to warrant staying at home, long-term social isolation is never a good idea. It increases our risk for depression and suicidal thinking.

In an ideal world, every migraineur will have at least a few friends who make a point to stay in contact during the most difficult times. Our busy lives make it extremely difficult to meet face-to-face.  I’m just as guilty as anyone else. Within an hour’s drive, there are at least five migraineur friends (not including hundreds of family members with migraine) whom I haven’t seen in person in months. (psst…I’m so sorry ladies!). I visit with each of them almost every week online, but it’s no substitute for seeing their smiles, hearing them laugh, and giving them each a big hug.

Please don’t let migraine rob you of the true joys of life. Successfully planning life around migraines is possible even with chronic migraine. Just make sure you are prepared should one interrupt your plans. Taking off without your toolkit is just foolish. Never leave home without it.

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