First and foremost I make sure I stay hydrated each and every day by drinking a lot of water during and cut back on caffeine. Dehydration is a #1 cause of most migraines and if your dehydrated I found out personally it can take longer for your medication to kick in and take effect and compounding the situation. Other than that I have found the following my best way of trying to cope in a day to day basis that is so unpredictable:
I have a few tools that I use to keep ahead of the weather, as some of my migraines are weather related due to changes in the barometric pressure. On my iPod I have three go-to tools: Migraine Mate which will let me know if my risks for that day are elevated based on weather patterns due to my GPS location-I can add my pain rating and it will keep a Migraine Log that tracks your Pain vs. Temperature; Barometer which will give me the constantly changing pressure, temp and wind speed based also on my GPS location; and ecoHeadache paid version so I can customize with all my medications and alternative therapies-this is my migraine log and I can print a report to take to my doctor based on my documentations and settings. I downloaded those apps from Apple online store and they are very helpful in helping me keep track of migraines and triggers. On my cell phone I have a paid app through Google Play Store called My Pill Reminder: I have all my meds listed with the doses and times and it will sound an alarm that will not stop until I shut it off so that I do not forget to take my preventive meds on time. Missing doses or forgetting the times and not being on schedule is another big trigger for a Migraine to take root. You must take your meds on time and the same time every day and if you take the same med twice you enter it in twice and have the times set. The night before I have a pill box where I put my doses for the next day so I can have them ready when my timer goes off, that way there is no confusion and no forgotten pills.
With those techno tools I can try to keep ahead of any of those migraines that are weather created by taking my abortive at the 1st sign of an attack to hopefully prevent a devastating migraine. Along with watching the weather updates on TV there isn’t much more I think I can do in that department.
And then I make sure that my Migraine Survivalist Kit on by beside nightstand is replenished often-after each and every use. I will do an inventory and pre-fill any anticipated RX’s in advance regardless if I need them at that moment or not. It’s best to have them on hand so that I do not run the risk of running out in the middle of an attack, which would be a nightmare and unimaginable. I also ordered a couple of those old fashioned ice caps, the kind my mother use to have years and years ago. The bag you fill with ice cubes and it has a screw on cap and the outside of the bag is cloth covered so you don’t have to use a hand towel with it. I found these last longer than the gel filled and cost around $6.00 to $10.00 depending on where you buy them. I got mine on Amazon for about $7.00 each. Any freezer gel packs I have I will often check to make sure they have not developed a leak. After repeated use of thawing and being refrozen the plastic weakens over time and I have had some of the gel ooze out and get on my dark navy sheets. Plus with a dog around I’m sure it’s toxic and I won’t have to worry about my dog getting into it 1st If I don’t catch it in time.
If I try to make any plans with friend or family I always leave an opening in advance. I will tell them I’d love to have them over or go with them, but I forewarn them that if I get a Migraine that will prevent me from participating to not get upset and be prepared if I have to call or tell them I cannot make it the day of so that they are not caught unprepared. I know no one likes to be cancelled on last minute, but my family and remaining friends have known me long enough and know what I go through and they have learned to expect a possible last minute no-show. Family might get a little upset but friends are more understanding. So on that point I try to maintain and keep open lines of communication with everyone I relate to on a day to day basis and keep them informed of medication and therapy changes as that can play a role as well. Communication is key.
When I actually do get to make it out of the house, I have learned to carry a couple of pairs of ear plugs in case I end up in an environment that is too loud since I’m really sensitive to loud noise. I have also learned to carry with me at all times, regardless of the weather, my sunglasses because I can even use them indoors under that terrible florescent lighting. I might get some odd looks if I use them but it’s to my advantage and not those passer-bys. I always make sure I have back-up medications with me as well and even have a pair of my Sumatriptan injections w/alcohol swabs just in case. In my cosmetic bag that’s been changed to my medication bag I also carry a printout of my current medications, OTC supplements, current doctor information and contact information-just in case an accident should happen it’s in print so that there is no lack of communication or confusion when the occasion occurs. In an emergency who can remember the names of the meds, doses and all their OTC items-or those of their doctors contact info or who to contact in case of an emergency? I sure couldn’t. I also carry a mini tablet and a couple of pens to document when I take meds away from home along w/a few short notes so that I don’t lose track of that information. And I will have my mints as well that will soothe my stomach and a pair of Sea Bands for the nausea if it should hit me all of a sudden. And I do a last minute check before I go anywhere that I have my driver’s license and insurance cards and a method of payment in case I end up in the ER to pay the co-pay, so my checkbook or debit card is always with me as well. I’ll have some portable wet wipes with me as well, just in case……….
I make sure my cell phone is always on a full charge and I have my contacts phone number information updated. I have my most important ones set on speed dial and I love the feature where I can put my important contacts as a direct dial app on my home screen, so then I just click on their picture and it will automatically dial them up. That would be a great life saver when you can’t think of a name off hand-you turn on your phone and your screen lights up, you see a picture of a face and you select that picture and it direct dials. Because oftentimes when a migraine strikes confusion sets in and you cannot think too clearly, so this is a good tool I like to use even at home. Technology is so amazing this day and age we need to take advantage of every tool as well as the tricks learned on these amazing devices to our advantage. And I make sure in my phone settings I have my GPS turned on so that it’s track able.
If I leave the house I will always let someone, spouse, daughter, and friend-know where I’m going and what route if possible. And I’m learning that I need to take the GPS with me so that in case if I get confused if a migraine hits and I cannot find an alternate way home, that I will not get lost and if I have to call someone for help the GPS will show where I’m at. In the past when I’d get lost on my way home I’d call and I’d be embarrassed to say I didn’t know where I was for sure. That is just not a safe place to be-it’s terrifying and could be life threatening if something else should happen like if you get too dizzy to drive or your vision gets too obstructed w/an aura. When you’re out on your own a GPS device and a cell phone are a must have. And if you think you may be gone longer that a couple of hours take along a cell phone battery charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter. And make sure someone checks out in advance the cigarette lighter actually works so that you know you can use it if your battery runs down. You don’t want to be stuck out away from home with a dead battery. And I make sure I have a bottle of water to stay hydrated and of course in case I need to take pills. And I try to concentrate on staying focused, calm and not to panic.
If I get a migraine at home and need the quiet and silence I will put a sign on my front door that will state a Migraine is in process and please do not disturb. Many people have been very courteous and have not knocked or rung that God awful doorbell when I put that sign out. So that is a good way to deter unexpected would-be guests or solicitors when you’re in a not so hostess friendly mode. And if I’m home I retreat to my bedroom that I have made a dark and quite fortress, I will shut off the ringer to the phone, turn on the fan for white noise and use my iPod with meditation music and have turned down low, and I now have an aromatherapy humidifier on my side of the headboard w/soothing essential oils to calm and soothe me.
My Comforting Blend Recipe:
5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
4 drops Clary Sage Essential Oil
4 drops Tangerine Essential Oil
2 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
1 drop Marjoram Essential Oil
1 drop Sandalwood Essential Oil
1 drop Myrrh Essential Oil
I combine these oils in a European dropper bottle and keep in a dark, dry cool place-my bedside stand drawer. I will add 8-10 drops in my diffuser because it can take that amount. Some diffusers take less and some might take more. But I found that the pure unadulterated essential oils do not irritate nor do they trigger a migraine. Only the commercialized, manufactured scented items will trigger me. This will not abort my migraine but it will soothe, comfort and relax me so that I can better endure and ride it out.
All the essential oils I use are pure therapeutic oils. They are not pre-blended nor are they perfumed oils-those would trigger a migraine, so stay away from perfumed oils.
(I will carry a small vial of pure essential Peppermint oil as well to sniff if needed when a migraine starts to flare up)
And I avoid my triggers: food, beverage and atmosphere like the plague. I eat freshly prepared food and stick to the NHF Low Tyramine diet guidelines where 1 restriction is to not eat anything that is more than 6-8 hours old-so no leftovers. Protein the longer it sits the more Tyramine builds up and is a major migraine trigger. And of course I avoid my other triggers: MSG, Nitrates, Nitrites, Diary, red wine, aged cheese.....
I hope some of these tricks and tips will help out someone. If you have a few of your own to share or add to this list please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for new tools and tricks to use for my own intervention.
May 2013 Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival: Theme-Practical tips & tricks for coping with the changes brought about in our lives by Migraine & Headache Disorders. Posted 4-8-13 1 drop Yarrow Essential Oil