Having the right tools on hand can help you feel prepared for any migraine attack.
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One of my best friends got married a few years ago and one of the other bridesmaids showed up with a special bag labeled “Bride’s Emergency Kit.”
In it was everything the bride could possibly need for her special day, including ibuprofen, hairspray, cushions for her shoes, special tapes, bobby pins, water, and more.
I think it’s a brilliant idea to have a toolkit of everything you could need in a situation to provide that mental sigh of relief.
I’ve had a constant migraine since October 2, 2013, and chronic migraine for many years prior. Needless to say, I have battled a lot of migraine pain over the years. Over time, I have figured out what I can lean on during a migraine attack.
While I wish that all of the tools in my “first aid kit” could easily fit into a small bag like my friend’s bridal kit, nothing is simple when it comes to migraine.
That said, here’s a look at the tools that I keep in my migraine first aid kit.
In an effort to manage nausea associated with migraine, I always keep a few bags of ginger tea with me. I find that it’s the easiest solution when I’m battling nausea — especially when I am on the go.
Ginger chews are also helpful, but they taste so delicious that it’s hard for me to keep a few spare ones in my bag. The tea, not surprisingly, is less of an indulgence than the candied ginger chews.
I drink water all day, every day. And when I feel a migraine coming on, I drink even more.
As a preventive measure, I always have a water bottle with me so I can stay hydrated and, hopefully, stay away from triggering any additional pain.
Although I understand that citrus may not work for everyone’s migraine or taste buds, I find that adding a little lemon flavor to my water makes me much more apt to stay hydrated.
I use crystallized lemon packets (with no sugar or artificial sweetener) that I found online years ago. Adding this extra element to my water is especially helpful during a migraine attack, when I don’t have the motivation to do much of anything.
Unfortunately, triptans do not work for me as an abortive migraine treatment. As an alternative, I often lean on Fioricet (an oral medication) at the onset of my migraine.
Although I don’t take this medication during every migraine (and it doesn’t always help), I never leave the house without at least two pills in my bag.
Having these pills on hand is especially helpful when I am in a situation where I can’t easily make it home to my bed. I feel better knowing that I have the option to take the medication should I need it.
My eyes are sensitive to light during the various phases of my migraine. It’s helpful to keep a pair of sunglasses with me to lessen the brightness whether I’m inside or outside.
I wish that I could carry a bag of frozen ice packs around with me all day (a girl can dream). At home, I always have a freezer full of ice packs.
I wrap each ice pack in a paper towel and rest it on the area of my head that hurts the most. When it becomes too warm, I swap in another one from my freezer. I even have an ice pack hat that I wear when the pain is all over my head.
Although ice packs are by no means a solution to my migraine pain, it makes me feel like I am doing everything in my power to ease my pain.
Although I can’t physically put this “tool” into my purse, this is a critical element of my migraine first aid kit.
I lean heavily on self-coaching and mantras to get through my migraine pain. I coach myself by saying things like, “you’ve been through pain like this before and you can do it again,” and “this pain will pass.”
This tactic has been invaluable in helping me get through my constant pain.
This is by far the most vital tool in my emergency kit. Over time, I have curated a list of friends with migraine that I can call at any time (day or night). When the pain is intolerable, or I’m feeling frustrated with my pain, it helps to have a friend to text or call to say, “I understand.”
It’s like everyone on my call list speaks the same language. Due to our pain, we get each other in a way that other people don’t.
Find a community that cares
There’s no reason to go through migraine alone. With the free Migraine Healthline app, you can join a group and participate in live discussions, get matched with community members for a chance to make new friends, and stay up to date on the latest migraine news and research.
Although these things are in my migraine first aid kit, it’s important to mention that these tools may not work for everyone. As migraine sufferers, we all need to figure out what tools help us individually.
In the meantime, we should all try to connect with others who are battling migraine so no one ever feels alone in their pain.
Danielle Newport Fancher is a writer, migraine advocate, and author of “10: A Memoir of Migraine Survival.” She’s sick of the stigma that a migraine is “just a headache” and she’s made it her mission to change that perception. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or visit her website to learn more.