Bad Weather = Bad Migraines


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Mag Illustration by J.Crawley

Spring has always been a mixed blessing for me.  Along with all the changes in weather, from the winter cold to the hot late spring, I can have many days of migraine.  When I was a student it often left me stranded at school unable to get home or even have the strength to walk to class.   As an employee I often worried it could cost me my job.  I still work away from home but thankfully not everyday.  I have been laid low for up to 4 days.  Laid low is a gentle way of putting it.  Intolerance to light, smell and strong neck pain are the usual symptoms.

2013 - 5 077RszdThe big weather we have all experienced in North America over the past 5 days has been tragic for our neighbours in the United States and I am personally horrified by the images of devastation.  Here in Ontario we have had some  thunderstorms and flooding.  Luckily I was able to teach last week and didn’t even have to take any pain meds for my head.  I guess I got lulled into thinking I am beyond the big migraines at my age.  They say they diminish with age.   It is true that I have less migraines.  On Saturday I thought I might drive to my parent’s home for a visit but events changed that, luckily.  I would have been stranded.  I started to lose my balance and felt dizzy.  I lay down and I realised I was in trouble.  The heat and the up and down of the weather [high winds and sudden heavy rains] were a backdrop.2013 - 5 080Rszd

Earlier in the spring I had escalating pain from the back of my head, rising to the top as I walked from my bed to the door, quickly doused with pain meds.  This weekend I was almost unable to walk around my home, make dinners, walk the dog, converse, do any of my art projects, or read.  I was taking pain relief every 4 hours.  I walked and talked like someone on a bender.  Today I still have it but I am able to get outside.  Tomorrow I work out-of-town and I am very worried about the long hours driving and standing.  I will rely on my headache meds, taken strategically to avoid any issues on the commute.  Today I will continue to rest when I can.

2012 - 9 217Migraines are exhausting.  A bit like the flu.  When they are over you are worn out – even though you’ve been bedridden.   Years ago I learned that there are many triggers to migraines and learned the ones that affect me.  Weather is a big one for me.  I almost never have any in the winter – none that I can’t squash with a pill.  The month of May is often my least favourite because of the storms – the high and low pressure.  I am a human barometer.   Hydration is a huge factor.  You must stay hydrated and never skip meals completely.  Any stress on the body can cause a migraine one or two days later.  As a young woman my hormones played havoc with these issue as I ate less and was quite dehydrated during menstruation.  Poor posture is also a big deal.  If I have been working and fail to notice my posture, my neck will start to ache and start-up the tension that can create a migraine.  I knew a migraine sufferer who went to a chiropractor to readjust her neck to stop hers’.   Hers were extremely harsh and long-lasting.

So if you are a migraine sufferer the only advice I can give is for each person to try to find your triggers.  Hydration and poor posture are big for most sufferers.  I am not a qualified person to talk about the pain meds available.  I have experimented over the years and I hate pills generally.  I try to take the least harmful and not get carried away with the amount.  To fellow sufferers – good luck.

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