Ruling Migraine on My TermsLast Updated:
A big part of ruling your migraine is in being able to recognize the early warning signs. Years ago, I would have blamed days like yesterday on a bad mood or moral weakness, questioning my motivation, and maybe even picking a fight with my husband. You see, communication is very difficult during a prodrome. I don’t think logically and my emotions are more volatile. The best thing I can do is isolate. Now I can see exactly what is happening and know why.
It would be more difficult if I did not have tools to ease the symptoms of prodrome. I don’t know how I would rule my migraine disease with just a handful of triptans that I couldn’t use until the pain started. Some days, like yesterday, the pain never gets started at all…but I still experience symptoms that disrupt my day and reduce my productivity.
It’s days like yesterday when I appreciate that my work is a labor of love and not due to the arbitrary demands of a paid job. If I had been working a paid job, I would have been forced to take a sick day because no job in the world would permit me to do what was necessary for my health.
Let me explain…
I had just finished lunch when my head started to feel strange. There was an odd feeling in the back of my throat threatening to become nausea. The lights felt just a little too bright. I felt weak and a bit tired, as though I could take a nap. I resisted the urge and told myself to give it a few minutes before taking action. Taking a break to start a load of laundry seemed to have broken up the haze, so I got back to writing.
I dialed the phone for a conference call, thinking how grateful I was that it wasn’t a Skype call. I looked horrid and simply did not have the energy to fix my hair or put on make-up. The conversation was a pleasant distraction from the buzzing haze in my head. Temporarily, I forgot that my brain was sputtering like a car that’s almost out of gas.
My son dropped by to chat while I was on the phone with my husband. The earlier threats that had evaporated now resumed, led by a sickening lump in my throat. Hoping to head it off, I asked my son to bring me a Sprite while I finished the conversation with his dad. I could tell the warning signs were getting stronger because I was having trouble focusing on the conversation. My husband’s voice sounded far away. I could hear his words, but they had little meaning.
Feeling the fatigue set in, I relocated to a recliner in the family room and powered up the laptop. Feeling a temporary surge of energy, I vacuumed the carpet because all that dog hair was driving me crazy. Satisfied with the results, I made myself comfortable. It didn’t take long for my right eye to feel hot and heavy. If I didn’t act quickly, I could be facing a cluster attack within minutes. Still, the threat of migraine was quite real, too. Donning a wide-brimmed hat to block out the light, I used a roller ball tube to apply essential oils in a circle around my eye. I then grabbed my TENS unit with ear clips to break up the electrical storm in my head. Within minutes I began to feel relief.
Unintentionally, I dozed off. When I woke up, I discovered that my daughter had turned off all the lights. It felt good to sit in the dark. I took the time to eat dinner, only to realize that my brain was still revolting. The TENS unit worked before, so I started it up for another round. Before the session was over, I could feel the symptoms receding.
After a few hours, the symptoms return yet again. Once again, a few minutes using the TENS unit erased all trace of brain threats, fog, and haze. I begin to wonder if it would be wise to take a more aggressive approach. I ditched the ear clips, grabbed two sets of pads, applied them to the base of my neck, extended the session and turned up the intensity on the TENS unit. I was determined to stop this nonsense once and for all.
Even though I had no pain, I knew I’d been having a migraine attack all day. I was in the prodrome phase, so it was only a matter of time before the headache appeared. Treating at this phase is tricky because the experts tell us to treat with abortives at the first sign of pain. Yet I’m always trying non-medicine strategies to abort the attack earlier in the process.
Yesterday was a perfect example.
Yesterday, I did not have a headache, but I still had symptoms of my disease
and needed extraordinary accommodations in order be productive.