The Game Changer

Today’s Prompt: Tell us about a time your plans changed due either to an unexpected Migraine or an unexpected Migraine-free experience.

fireworksIn the fall of 1999 my then-episodic Migraines took a nasty turn for the worse when I began experiencing Cluster Headaches and a dramatic increase in frequency, severity, and duration of Migraine attacks. I just couldn’t break free of that vicious cycle. After many months of trial and error, my doctors and I finally found a breakthrough using oxygen and Verapamil. Despite this improvement, I continued to experience horrific Migraine attacks during almost every holiday. My family and I were frustrated that Migraines took such a nasty bite out of the most joyful times of the year. This continued for the seven years. During those years I slowly began to discover connections between Migraine attacks and certain types of food, beverages, and environmental triggers. As my husband and I discussed our discoveries, we realized that holidays were full of potential triggers. If I was going to join in the fun, I was going to have to learn to reduce my “trigger load”. The next holiday after this revelation was Independence Day. We often gathered with extended family for cookouts and a night full of fireworks. I could make it through the day, but by sunset the pain was too intense. I would hide in bed in the dark with ice packs on my head. I hadn’t been able to enjoy a fireworks show in seven years.

This is me still smiling and
migraine-free just a few hours
before sunset , July 4, 2012

That year I tried a new strategy. I drank only water and plenty of it. I wore sunglasses outside and tried to stay indoors as much as possible. I ate lots of raw vegetables and avoided the hot dogs, flavored potato chips, ranch dip, and anything artificial. I was able to enjoy the entire day without pain. As the sun began to set, my husband nervously checked in with me. I assured him that I was fine and would be able to enjoy the fireworks. It was a beautiful night. As long as I remained a spectator and did not go near the fireworks I was fine. I kept my distance to minimize the risk that the fumes would trigger an attack. Finally, we found a way for me to enjoy the day!

That was 2006. I haven’t missed a fireworks celebration since. It is the one day of the year I know exactly what to do to avoid a Migraine. Every July 4th I say “NO!” to Migraines and hit back hard. It is one day when I get to win.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation.
The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by

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