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10 April 2008

Migraine & travel

Tomorrow morning--ahem, THIS morning--I'll leave my house early to drive to the airport in rush hour traffic. My mom and I are flying to Virginia together to spend some time with my aunt and my cousins; it should be nice.

Despite my intense, feverish addiction to travel, I often dread the first day of it. Getting up on time, worrying that I have neglected to pack something, not sure if I'll make it to the airport in time, sitting under fluorescent lights in the gate area, the air pressure shifts in the plane, etc., etc.--all of these factors combine and, more often than not, result in a Migraine attack.

For this trip, I didn't follow step one of my own advice, but I think I'm doing well with the rest of it.

Tips for traveling migraineurs:


1. Get organized a couple of days before you go. This way, you'll feel less stressed regarding the packing process and will remember to add forgotten items, as you'll have more time to realize you've not packed them. For me, counting out all the pills and vitamins I'll need during the trip (adding on an extra day's worth for good measure!) is the first step I take. Too often I've been on vacation and reached for the medicine bottle only to remember it's still in my cabinet hundreds of miles away!

2. For people like me who know fluorescent lighting is a trigger: If you're staying in a hotel or with friends/family, ask your host about the lighting situation. Will there be fluorescent lights at the hotel? Request incandescent bulbs IN ADVANCE or else your home away from home won't be as comforting and healthy as you'd like. Will there be fluorescents at your friend's or family's house? Ask them if they could pick up a few incandescents on their next shopping trip--you'll pick up the tab. And remember: always have your eyewear to protect yourself from unavoidable lighting!

For those of you with phonophobia and/or trouble sleeping: bring earplugs! You never know what will be happening around you, and missing out on good sleep will drive any person crazy--and it will make it more likely you have a migraine episode.

3. Have all your medication packed in your CARRY-ON bag. In the rare chance your luggage is lost or delayed, you can't afford to screw up your schedule, especially since your normal life routine has been shifted around for the day.

4. Have abortive meds nearby--in your pocket or in an easily accessible part of your carry-on bag. No worrying that you have to wake up the snoring man next to you in order to get your meds from the overhead bin--just keep them very close! Even if you don't have an episode, you'll be comforted by the proximity of your salvation.

5. Tell yourself (and your traveling companions, if applicable) you have Migraine disease, and tell them when you're nearing your limit or when you won't be able to participate. Don't eat foods that are on your list of triggers just because a very charming hostess has offered them up to you. Don't go to the amusement park if a long, hot day in the sun will make you sick. Be honest with yourself so you can best enjoy your free time, and don't try to pack in too many things without scheduling in some down time.

6. Carry some granola bars or other healthy snack with you to combat low blood sugar. Most of us know by now that skipping meals is a sure-fire migraine trigger for most. Keeping a snack or three in your purse or carry-on bag could very well save you from having a Migraine attack when you're rushing to and fro and have no time to get a meal.

I'm sure I could ramble on, but I'll leave it at that. I was going to write another post for this here Migraine Blog Carnival, but since I'm leaving in a few hours' time, I have travel on my mind.

Speaking of that, I need to take my own advice and remind myself that it's time for bed. ;)

4 comments:

Megan Oltman said...

Great advice. Travel is love/hate for me too. Love to do it, hate how often it spawns migraines. I try to do the stuff you mentioned - also always make sure I take some quiet alone time on a trip - and let my hosts or travel companions know a head of time that I'll need it, and it isn't a rejection of them. People seem fine with it.
- Megan

Debbie said...

This is great advice. I don't like to travel alone, but I gave it a try over the weekend by attending a reunion in Boston. I didn't follow rule #1. I forgot my ATM card and extra cash (DH came to the rescue)and some of my meds. I found that I will be less apt to forget meds if I write down the # of pills I will need and then go from the list. I didn't do this.

The other thing I should have done is pack light, especially with carry-ons. I had 2 going to Boston and I was always worrying that I would leave one somewhere.

rachel said...

i just got back from a week in vegas where i learned a key traveling lesson: check with the hotel to see if they pump ARTIFICIAL SCENTS INTO YOUR ROOM through the AC ducts!

ugh. a week of fake scents drove me crazy. but only one migraine while i was there, so all was not lost.

themigrainegirl said...

Rachel: Gross! Scented crap being pumped into your room through air ducts? The mere thought of that makes me feel slightly more ill than I already do.

Ick!

Debbie & others: Do you have a pill box? I know you're supposed to take individual bottles with you on vacation, but I fill up my XL-sized pill box to the brim, always making sure I have an extra day's worth of meds. (To solve the potential problem of companions not knowing what meds I've taken, I have a little list and a card with my doctor's number in my medication bag.)

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