Migraines are a special kind of misery. As Forrest Gump once said, "Migraines are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get and they are probably a trigger, so don't eat them."
Though I'm one of the lucky ones who only gets a migraine every few months, they still shut me down to a standstill. Last week, I was slammed in the skull with a migraine of the worst severity I have ever had. I left work wondering if I was going to be able to see the road through the aura that was streaking across my vision from the right side of my face. A fever of 101 kicked in as I forced my shivering body into bed, too hot to put my standard pillow across my eyes, too sensitive to handle the light without it. Eyes shut tight, I waited it out in agony.
Having a migraine is like being trapped inside of your own head. With eyes closed, I'm still awake due to pain and the caffeine in Excedrin Migraine, leaving me with nothing but my own thoughts. For some reason, all of the worst, most terrible thoughts I could possibly have seem to come rushing through some flood gate in the back of my brain that the migraine has swiftly opened. I imagine far-fetched scenarios, like my kids running into traffic and I can't get there quick enough, or what will I do when Turbo passes away? I ask myself why I'm thinking about these things and open my eyes to remove the images, only to hiss at the light like a vampire climbing out of a coffin before dusk.
My arms feel heavy. My right eye feels droopy. My speech feels disconnected. Am I having a stroke? (Again with the dark, ridiculous thoughts.) And then comes the Mommy guilt. My husband is now left to fend for himself with a toddler and a baby while I lay dormant in bed, wishing I could help and wishing I could fall into a deep, dark cave, simultaneously. I want to be with them, but the idea of sitting up is excruciating.
Everyone has their best advice on how to deal with a migraine. These days, I hear people share that Botox in the head and neck is the answer, but I don't think I can go that route just yet (however, talk to me again when I'm in pain and I'll probably offer to inject it myself). There are all kinds of drugs to take - consult your doctor, not your local blogger on that one. Today, I'll lay out advice on how to recover because it is advice I also need to adhere to in the future to reduce down time:
- Take meds early. The minute you feel that migraine feeling coming on - dull ache, slight nausea, light and sound sensitivity - even to the most minor degree, pop an Excedrin Migraine. I've fought off a few by simply being timely with the meds.
- Lie down. Stop worrying about the stuff you need to do. Don't feel guilty about bailing on friends or family. Work will wait. Lie down, shut up and try to sleep.
- Darkness is your friend. Bathe in it. Pretend you are a bat in a cave and revel in the dark. Bundle yourself into a blanket and a sleep mask and keep things light tight.
- Hydrate. Drink water like you are taking a journey through the Sahara. Once you think you have drank enough water, drink some more.
- Pay attention to your triggers and write them down. Seriously, don't just log it to memory. Put any factors from the few days before into a journal. That time of the month? Too much red wine? Were you stressed out? Are you dehydrated? Writing it down each time allows you to establish a pattern that you can take to the doctor for some better examination.