migraine tricks for the tricky migraine
By: Autumn Smith
Migraines are the bane of my existence. Chronic pain is horrible, but when I have a migraine, and I mean a full blown migraine, I can literally do nothing. I vomit non-stop, I scream completely uncontrollable screams, I sweat, I cry, and I can go unconscious. The pain is truly indescribable, it’s hard not to feel like you’re dying. I’ve had plenty a migraine that has landed me in the hospital. If I can get to my phone or if I’m lucky to have someone near me, I always get help. If not, it’s a struggle. Slowly but surely, I follow my routine with as much patience as someone nearly blind, crippled with pain, and partially immobile can have. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I’m not good at finishing homework and white isn’t my color. Ask your doctor if any of these steps will work for you.
Step 1) Benadryl. Benadryl, Benadryl, Benadryl. Migraine abortive slime Imitrex have never worked for me, so I felt like I was screwed for life. I learned this trick in the ER. They give you what they call a “migraine cocktail” and it consists of Benadryl, Torradol, and Zofran through an IV. It doesn’t always work if it’s bad enough, but it’s a true lifesaver for me. Take the recommended dose (50 mg, 2 pills) every 4-6 hours until it works. I break them in half so they work faster. Ask your doctor if you can take more than 50 mg at a time. You’ll end up sleeping a lot, but that helps as well. Side tip: if you feel headach-y at night and don’t want to wake up with a migraine, take Benadryl. It can work like a charm.
Step 2) Zofran. Like I had mentioned before, it’s part of the migraine cocktail. Even if you don’t think you need it, it can help. Ask your doctor for a script or break out the leftovers from your last surgery!
Step 3) Excedrin. I know what you’re thinking, Excedrin isn’t for REAL migraines. You’re right, it’s not. But the combination of just one with two Benadryl (an hour or two after Benadryl dose) can be really helpful. The caffeine and boost of Tylenol are what do the trick. DON’T TAKE THESE TWO TOGETHER WITHOUT ASKING YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.
Step 4) Medical marijuana. I really hope you have access to this, because it is by far the best aid to pain treatment I’ve ever tried. It helps boost anything you take. I personally prefer a hybrid, a hash oil, or an edible. I use more during a migraine than I would for anything else. Once again, these things might make you sleep but that may be a good thing.
Step 5) ICE! So, so important. I’ve had to find the exact perfect ways to ice my face over the years, and it can be considered an art form for me. You’ll probably need more than one ice pack and you’ll need one filled with gel or something soft, or even tiny crushed ice balls. Press the ice packs on EVERY inch of your face that has any pain. This is important because the goal is to numb ALL pain for long enough that it goes away. You might need to lay on a couch for more hard spaces to press against, and you can even use heavy weight pillows to help balance and press an ice pack against your face. Harder ice packs (shameful, but this vegetarian uses a frozen tube of sausage) can help to slightly dig (not too hard!) into places like the back of your neck, your eyebrows, eye sockets, and cheeks. Don’t ever press too hard on your temples, but you can ice them! REMEMBER, try to cover all pain sources with ice at the same time. It takes creativity!
Step 6) Heat. If your MAIN pain source is your neck, ice it. If it’s not, use heat. Your neck can always be sore and get out of wack, so lay on your heating pad so it covers your upper back and entire neck.
Step 7) Use a cooling muscle gel (I used All Thing Lavender’s Muscle Gel, or icy hot) and literally rub a thin layer on your entire face. Be careful, but just know I have an extremely sensitive face (I rash-out all the time) and my brand never does that for me. It’s an amazing, distracting (important for migraine relief) feeling, but they key is this along with the next step.
Step 8) A fan. You need a fan. You’re probably thinking, “Is she serious?” the way I think about people when they tell me to “take a hot bath” for my endometriosis pains, but this is an important piece of the puzzle. After you’ve done ALL of the above steps, hopefully you’re starting to get sleepy and you’ve found a way to wedge ice packs and heating pads all over your face and upper body. Put a big, powerful fan RIGHT in front of your face. It will feel fantastic with the cooling gel. I think the sound is also consistent and keeps you from hearing any other sounds you are sensitive to.
The key to all of this, my friends, is to do almost everything on this list. At least six out of eight of them, let’s be real. Most of these things almost forcethe pain to be covered or changed, just like changing pain to a numbing freezing sensation with ice. It’s a distraction, like the fan and the cooling gels. Distraction and morphing pain into something else is my main focus now. I used to distract the pain by punching myself in the face without realizing it, but this works much better. I hope it works for you! AND AGAIN, check with your doctor!