Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tips for My Future Self

Log on fire in a fireplace

Dear future self,

I'm guessing you are reading this because you are in the middle of another series of migraines. This post contains several things that helped in the past (which is actually in the present as I'm writing this). It also contains a short list of things you should stop attempting every time you have a series of migraines because they do not work

Things That Have Helped

1. Doing Neck & Shoulder Stretches

Migraines = shoulder tension. Shoulder tension = tension headaches. Tension headaches = migraine trigger. It's a wonderful cycle of pain. While you should attempt to do these stretches fairly regularly, whether suffering from pain or not, I doubt you will. And I'm permitted to doubt you because I am you. 

Here are a few videos that consistently have helped.

2. Exercising

It's easy to fall into potato-mode and not do anything. However, you have to force yourself to get up, change into proper exercise clothing, and then exercise. Walking is fine if you can't handle anything else, but strength training is better. Just remember to take some ibuprofen before going to bed or you'll possibly be in too much pain to sleep. (Pretending that wasn't already an issue...)

3. Taking Time Off of Work

You may be thinking that this is obvious. If you are in a ball of pain and cannot function or if your migraine symptoms include light sensitivity and you wish to destroy all sources of light, there's no way you can sit in front of a computer and edit the day away or whatever it is you do at work. However, you should use sick time for this (or vacation time after the sick time is gone). Stop trying to make up every missed hour. You don't need the extra stress.

4. Eating Healthy Food

Remembering to eat meals while in constant pain is a struggle. Remembering to eat lunch on work days is almost always a struggle even when pain isn't factored in. ("Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -Douglas Adams) So when you do manage to eat a meal at something that might approximate a meal time, attempt to eat something healthy. When in doubt, just eat second breakfast. 

5. Sleeping

Sleep is important, especially since a series of migraines often follows a period of insomnia. Take naps. Sleep in. Adjust the time you go to sleep at night. Eat snacks in the middle of the night if you wake up and can't fall back to sleep. (That happens because you are hungry. Stop pretending there is some other reason. Just eat something.) 

Things That Do Not Help

1. Trying to Quit Caffeine 

Please stop doing this to yourself. You are just layering a another type of pain on top of the already existing layers of pain. You've also learned that being caffeine-free for long periods of time does nothing to reduce the incidence of migraines. Caffeine helps. That's why it's in the medications. 

2. Adjusting Supplements

Continue taking the supplements you were taking before the series of migraines started. They aren't responsible. The cause is likely the weather, a change is sleep patterns, a sharp increase in stress, or some presently undiscovered reason. 

3. Stopping All Pain Medications

Out of the context of chronic elevated pain, I'm never going to understand why several iterations of past-me thought this is a good approach. Maybe typing it here will prevent future-me from doing this again.

Hopefully my future self can benefit from these lists. Perhaps she will update the lists. Only time will tell. 


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