Do you get migraines? I do. In fact, for a number of years, I had migraines 90% of the time. I am a migraine expert. A migraine queen. Perhaps even some kind of migraine demi-god. Odd thing about migraines, having them 90% of the time is more tolerable than having them 40% of the time. The comparison of good and bad makes them worse. When it's all shit all the time you just get used to it.
Anyway, over the many years of chronic migraines, this is what I have learned. This is my plan of action when I feel a migraine coming on (visual halos, dizziness, hearing sensitivity, etc):
1. Take medication.
I take two panadol and two nurofen. You can swap panadol for panadine or nurofen for aspirin. It's safe to have them together. Just don't take two types of pills with panadol together, or two types of anti inflammatories together. Panadol + nurofen = okay. Panadol + panadine = overdose and liver damage.
2. Drink a full glass of water.
This can be hard if the nausea has already settled in, but trust me, it reduces the length and severity of the migraine. If it's really hot or you haven't been drinking much, drink two glasses of water.
3. Have a shower.
A hot shower will help release your neck muscles and clear your sinuses. A cool shower will stop you sweating. Have whichever is appropriate.
4. Get dressed in clean, comfortable clothes.
You're going to be lying down a while, so get comfortable. I find clean clothes though. Nothing is worse than feeling shitty AND grungy.
5. Clear the space you're going to be recovering in.
I know it's hard when you feel like shit, but tidying and organising the space I'm in makes a huge difference to me. I get quite distressed by 'visual noise' when I have a migraine, so a mess makes me very tense.
6. Get a glass and a large bottle of water.
I like to keep my water in a bottle and pour it into a glass as I need it. I get terrible shakes when I have a migraine and this saves me spilling half empty glasses of water everywhere when I fail around trying to reach something.
7. Have snacks in tupperware within reach.
I prefer one savoury (nuts) and one sweet (dried fruit). Nuts are really good for omega three and the fruit is good because the sugar gives you high calories without you having to eat much. Which is preferable for nausea.
8. Hot packs and ice packs.
Hot packs on your neck, back or feet can make a huge difference. If the pain is really sharp, I put ice packs on top of my head too. Both are great. Even if you are exhausted and miserable, make the effort, it's worth it.
9. Put on shows and movies you love and have seen dozens of times.
Why stuff you have seen before? Because if the volume is really low and you zone in and out, you can still follow what is happening. You can tune in for your favourite parts, tune out when you want to and still have a form of entertainment. Most of my migraines don't allow me to read (books or subtitles) or focus enough to follow new shows or movies. So older favourites are great.
If you prefer silence, that's okay too. However I get bored too quickly for that. I'll also sometimes play video games that are easy and don't require too much input. Something like Banished or Sim City 4. Even Civ 5 on easy mode or Sims 3-4 can be a pleasant occasional distraction.
10. Put phones, alarms, etc on silent.
Put a sign on the front door saying 'shift worker: don't knock' or 'sleeping baby: don't knock'. Mute your phone. Take your house phone off the hook. Whatever it is, you can't deal with it when you have a migraine anyway.
11. Lie down and relax.
Turn off the lights, close the curtains, close the windows and minimize sound pollution. You should have everything you need for the next four hours, then you can take your next round of pills, go to the bathroom, check your phone and pray to God it is over soon.
This is all pretty simple stuff. You've heard it before. But doing all of it (actually doing it, not just thinking about doing it) makes a huge difference. These steps are also set out in the order they should be followed for maximum benefit. Things like taking the pills FIRST, before the shower and set up, so they are starting to work while you are doing the active parts. That way, organising yourself won't make the migraine much worse.
Give this a go next time you feel a migraine coming on and tell me how it turns out.