Migraine 911 Care-Kit

Migraine 911 Care-Kit

By Liza Zoellick.

June is Migraine Awareness Month and Liza shares some thoughts about how to prepare!

We’ve all been there. Wake up in the morning, feeling great and get on with our business and whatever we have planned that day. Then, we’re at a birthday party with the kiddos and something innocuous sets it off and we could be standing by the punch bowl and suddenly feel like someone drove a stake through our eye ball. Pain, blinding and making the world swim around you and you have no choice- much to the kid’s protestations, and whining, you have to drag them from the party and go home to submerge yourself in total darkness to alleviate the pain. But first, you have to make it home.

Liza Zoellick

This scenario can be anything, where you suddenly find yourself on the brink of migraine and are no where near your stash of emergency items you use to battle it. It is important to understand that there are hundreds of triggers for migraine and while you may be sure you are only triggered by one or two things, I can assure you that chronic migraine will present more than just a few triggers. Even if you are lucky to have just one or two, you may not be able to avoid them so I think it’s best to be prepared.

Some Triggers:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Skipped Meals
  • Physical Exertion
  • Excessive of Noise
  • Smells
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Bright Light
  • Stress
  • Weather

Here is how you can be prepared for a migraine wherever you might be: an emergency migraine survival kit to get you back home safely. Start with a tote or bin of some sort that can close so you don’t lose any of the contents while you are driving. Label it clearly and if you have kids you may want to omit some of the items I have asterisked so they don’t get sick.

  • Keep a blanket in case it’s cold when you have to pull over and treat yourself.
  • There is no greater invention than a single use cold pack. They are perfect for when you need something cold for your head and they aren’t expensive. And you don’t have to keep them cold!
  • Almond oil with a drop or two of lavender to massage into hands. It helps relieve stress. *
  • Sunglasses to help protect your eyes and keep the pain to a minimum.
  • If you can get the rose-gold colored glasses and wear them on drives to and from work that can be helpful. Also, if you work in a place with fluorescent lights. Or white lights. Those are a big trigger for me.
  • One dose migraine meds stashed in an empty pill bottle, labeled with clear writing. These can be a life saver when they are really bad and you are no where near home. *Poison hazard.
  • Soft ear plugs that drown out shot gun shells and kids screaming. *can be a choking hazard
  • Noise cancelling head phones.
  • Rosemary essential oil and lavender oil to massage into temples. *Poison hazard

This is what I like to call the Migraine Rescue Bin. It should help you get from point A to point B until you can crawl in bed and take care of yourself how you would at home. This is not meant to get you past more than a few hours. Remember to replenish the box when you use it.

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: http://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report. For other articles by Liza, click here.

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

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Alan Edwards

Sorry for the 500 headache variation in my migraine headache estimation. Lol. Migraines have affected my brain. Best to you all.

Alan Edwards

Nice article. Unfortunately, ice to my head and throwing up, which occurs at the peak of my migraine, is the only effective treatment for me now. Antidepressants are a trigger, which enrages doctors, and I don’t dare take them after 28 years of failure. Ssnris especially. Emotional stress and phobic reactions to public speaking, walking etc. have been troublesome since school, are also a trigger for me. A weak endorphin response sometimes occurs after throwing up and the migraine slowly winds down. I’ve had about 3000 severe migraines. Few advances or further understanding has been made in my lifetime. Several studies come out yearly and change very little. For me, ice to the head and my now extinct opioid was the ultimate cure- and violent, involuntary vomiting at migraine peak. Just the thought of giving a speech at school would precipitate seeing spots, a migraine headache and a desperate call to my mother to extract me from the principal’s office. The school nurse did nothing.
Opioids, aspirin, ice for the head, lying still, and throwing up are still my best treatments. I’ve had about 2500 severe migraines and they are not harmless!

Be aware, strokes can mimic migraines and aspirin can avert some ischemic attacks and vasoconstriction. That was my experience last year. The severe, twin-sided headache did not respond to ice or my opioids (which was a major red flag) but aspirin halted the headache pain and possible brain damage within five minutes. Unfortunately, the aspirin was covered by mail on the kitchen table for fifteen hours. The doctor-confirmed stroke continued until I ingested the aspirin. Although experts say not to take aspirin for strokes, in my case it was a miracle drug. Trazodone probably caused the migraine-like stroke (known as a trazodone stroke, although most medical professionals have no knowledge of trazodone stroke or antidepressant stroke) according to the doctor. Migraines may still be considered to be small strokes. And a migraine headache is not harmless!

Steve Lanier

One of my lifelines is frozen sponges in plastic bags. Wet sponge and squeeze out most of the water, not all just don’t let it be dripping, put it in a freezer baggie and into the freezer.
As I get both migraines and clusters I keep an armada of them in my freezer so if a headache lasts so long the first one I use will be froze again by the time I’d go through all I have!

Though for many caffeine is a trigger, for me ONE 200MG caffeine pill often (not always) will turn the volume down on the headaches I get.

And finally I just started looking at portable or countertop ice makers that can be placed anywhere, filled with water and most will produce ice in 10 minutes! One might be going by the bed!

Hope these help!

Wendy Munson

Suffered for 20 years then discovered sumatriptan – but then had to stop using it because of a clotting disorder. How wonderful to then discover Topomax! Has saved my life for past 15 years. You must take it daily, but when you find the correct dose for you, you’ll never have another migraine.

Leslie Hamilton

Hi liza!, I enjoy your articles immensely! Just a note, I use tei-fu oil. I rub on my temples, and the smell seems to open constricted blood vessels!!

Signe Topai

Great article! My doctor put me nortriptyline to prevent migraines which as been a life saver. I have gone from 14+ migraines a month to maybe one. Check with your doctor for there are medicines to prevent them. . God Bless and stay positive my warriors.