I suffer from three different types of headaches so there hasn’t been a day since January 21 of 2015 that I have had without head pain. However during that time I have kept a headache journal both for long-term disability reasons and because my doctors have asked too. I track my pain level at 4 points during the day, any abortive medications (like Toradol, Bendryl, Zofran, Robaxon) I have had to take to help with pain and what activities I was doing that day that may have contributed my head pain that day. This has been the most valuable part in creating my migraine tool box.
What is a Migraine Toolbox? It is being prepared for every type of head pain that could happen. It is knowing what medications will be beneficial and at what level of pain. It is researching what other migraneurs have in their toolbox.
My toolbox contains:
1. Preventative medications: I have tried so many and have had so many different reactions. My goal is to have that list of medications and reactions as part of my toolbox.
2. Abortive medications: these are for pain control in the midst of a headache/migraine and these too keep changing. I have tried many and very few work. But for now I have Toradol IM injections, Robaxon, Benedryl in pill form and Zofran for the nausea. I have also recently discovered Prednisone as the ultimate abortive medication but I can only take it sparingly.
3. Comfort items: it’s heat only for me so having microwaveable rice bags is very important. I often keep a crock pot in my bedroom for the worst days so I can simply rotate as needed. I also have an electric heating pad that is very helpful when I cannot get out of bed. I try to keep water at my bedside and am currently looking at putting a mini fridge in my room: see migraine cave. I also have ear plugs, my Theraspec glasses, injection supplies and a weeks worth of medication at my bedside. Oh yah and who could forget chocolate!!!
4. Creating a migraine cave: a place I can go that is dark, quiet and has everything I need when I have to hunker down for 72 hours. Currently I have sheets on my Windows but I want to replace them with Darkening blinds. Instead of the crock pot for heating rice bags I would like to get a mini microwave. I would also like to get a mini fridge so that I have a supply of water, ensure and other items that would keep in a fridge like cheese sticks etc. I have a fully functioning migraine cave but I would like a few upgrades.
5. Family and friends: on speed dial! For two reasons. I need to be able to call up someone when Dan has to take me to the hospital and know that someone on my list could watch the kids. But more importantly I need that family and friend list because they are my support system. They are who I call or text when I need support and they text or call me when they need support or just know that I do. I couldn’t have made it through this last year without any of you.
So if you suffer from migraines or any other chronic illness a toolbox is important to build for yourself so that you are always prepared or at least as prepared as you can be. And a journal is the best way to figure out what you need in your toolbox. I have also found that I now have a better understanding of what’s coming. For example; Friday night I started to get very irritable and a small pain started over my right eye. I knew at that point that I was in for a 72 hr migraine which will be followed by postdrome ( migraine hangover) which has begun and will continue through tomorrow. Knowing this ahead of time allows me to cancel any apts/dates I have made, I know I can’t drive during those 72hrs so Dan will have to run any errands or drop off/pick up kids. I knew all of this Friday night, which gives me a little bit of an upper hand. It does not however change the course of the migraine it just helps me know what to expect.