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09 December 2007

Merry Migraine!


Holiday parties are coming. Strike that--holiday parties are here. And it's only the first full weekend of December. Friday night there were two parties, and I had a slight Migraine headache before we even got to the first get-together, which started at five or so. A funny thing happened at the first gathering: I hung out with professors from the graduate program I finished a while back and did a lot of the obligatory catch-up talk. Somehow I had the energy to do this, putting my headache on the back burner while I laughed and talked with old classmates and teachers. The moment my boyfriend and I left the house and walked to my car, the pulsating pressure returned to my temples and the left side of my forehead. While most of the pain was gone (I'd taken my Relpax before the party), I didn't feel ready for the night ahead.

Instead of looking forward to the next party, I merely felt overwhelmed by the social commitments that lay ahead. As we drove toward the next party, I thought to myself, "I'm only 25% done with this weekend's parties. And I've barely scratched the surface of all the December obligations!" My head pounded more insistently. I thought about driving the car home and just staying there.

I trucked on, though. And the Migraine came back full-force the next morning. And the morning after that. (Granted, I'd had a few drinks Friday and Saturday nights, but the drinks were vodka and I drank in moderation. Usually clear alcohol + water consumption + not overdoing it = no Migraine!)

The holiday season doesn't seem like it should be particularly stressful for me--I have a laid-back family and no one obsesses over gift-giving or party-throwing or keeping with meticulous customs. But I tend to get pretty headachey each year anyway. Why is that?

Paying for medication is extra-stressful when I want to spend my money on plane tickets to visit loved ones or gifts for friends and family (or myself, dammit!). But extra headaches mean extra calls to the pharmacy. More $120 charges for Relpax, here we come! Another $135 neurologist appointment is coming up, as is more monthly medication.

But let's look on the bright side. The holiday season doesn't have to mean focusing on others, what they want, parties they're throwing, commitments we're expected to fulfill, etc. What is it we're told over and over again? Oh yes--the season is about giving. Let's learn from this.

1. Give to yourself.

If you're not up for a party, don't go. Pushing yourself could mean you make yourself sick. Maybe it won't, but why risk it? You are THE most important thing in your life. (Or one of the most important, if you have others you're very close to!) Take care of yourself. Don't stretch yourself too thin.

Maybe you could pamper yourself a little bit. Have you ever had a massage? Oh, I highly recommend this. A tip for you: be sure to tell the massage therapist about your Migraine patterns and any spots on your body (esp. back or neck) that when tight and in pain might be triggers. An experienced masseur will know how to treat you. My massage therapist is a TMJ specialist and dons some latex gloves so she can massage way back in my cheeks, relieving my TMJ like you wouldn't believe.

2. Expect that others will be there for you, too. 'Cause they will!
Your friends want you to be well. I'm guessing that they're aware of your Migraine disease (or whatever chronic pain disorder you might have). If you need to bow out of get-togethers, if you're overwhelmed and need to leave a party early, or if (as in my case), if you can't afford to get as many Christmas gifts as you'd like because your "extra" money goes to prescription drugs, that's okay! And your friends will understand. That's why they're your friends. Trust that they'll be there for you.


Merry Christmas to me! I guess I'm buying myself some drugs.
I wish you all well.

*If all goes as planned, this will be part of the HeadacheBlogCarnival. Link to follow.

2 comments:

Winnie said...

I have always loved Christmas and the idea of decorating, going to parties, getting and giving gifts, and the food. Note that I said 'the idea'. By Christmas Eve, truth be told, I could not wait until Christmas night when it was all over.

In the last 3 years, I learned that I am a 'clear' introvert and a 'highly sensitive person'. The introvert in me needs time alone to restore my energy - lots of time. The highly sensitive part is tuned in to differences in people's tone of voice, physical mannerisms, etc. to the point that it exhausts me.

I've learned that I need to take care of my introvert or I get over-stressed and over-tired, both conditions that lead to a migraine. Under these conditions I also tend not to hydrate or sleep well, which are also triggers for my migraines. I still go to parties, but my time limit is 2 hours. For every hour that I interact with people, it seems I need 1 or 2 hours to decompress. Thank God I don't have children.

My highly sensitive side is just there all the time, but it's nice to be aware of it. It has helped me not worry about whether someone is angry with me just because they cocked their head a certain way.

It helps a great deal being aware of one's own personality traits in dealing with this disease. I am working for a migraine-free holiday season by just pampering my sensitive introvert, but if I get one I won't beat myself up.

Thanks for the great post.

Migraine Chick said...

I really enjoyed reading your post!Thanks for the advice. I know what you mean about having to buy drugs and paying for doctor appointments versus buying other things around Christmas. I wonder if Santa will bring us some migraine medication for our stockings!

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