Keeping the wolves at bay


They come when you least expect them. You’re going about your day, you’re responding to an important work email or doing chores around the house, you’re deep in your own thoughts and the next thing you know you look up to see that you’re being chased. There’s five or six of them, running effortlessly, running stride for stride with you.

The keep their distance, but are still close enough to attack. They flash their menacing teeth, jagged and as sharp as switchblades. One false move and they’ll pounce, pulling you to the ground, and slicing you into pieces. You’re at their mercy.

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The hunter has become the hunted. Like a band of wolves preying on a deer, my debilitating migraines stalk me. They probe for weakness, starting off slowly and building. They race forward, pulsating to their own horrible beat, claim their territory, and press painfully on my skull.

They make every little bit of light painful to the eyes and make the faintest of sounds sound like a raging racket. They make my stomach churn and bring on nausea. I close my eyes, open them, rub the side of my face, nothing seems to work.

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When they come, they come with full-force, knocking me out. I consider myself fortunate that they don’t come everyday or even every week. They’re rare, but when when they come, they come with such force to send me running for cover. While painful beyond belief, I’ve learned a few things from the experience. Here’s the five things I’ve learned about migraines:

–Make self preservation a priority. You can fight and fight a migraine, but eventually you have to give in. You have to find a dark corner and eventually you have to take care of yourself.

–Take preventative steps. One of my wise old teachers used to like to say that ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, meaning that it’s easier to keep a bad thing from happening than trying to cure it once it’s happened. It holds a simple message for me: eat healthy; stay hydrated, keep my caffeine intake to “healthy levels”;  limit screen time; get outside in the fresh air; give my eyes a break from reading; etc.; etc.

–Keep perspective. Some of my migraines come with force right out of the gate, some come build up over time, none are good. I’m helped knowing that I’m blessed. My migraines come rarely, usually when I haven’t been taking care of myself. I know many others who are not so lucky and whether from genetic or environmental factors, have to face powerful migraines much more frequently than me. I pray for those people.

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–Remember that mother knows best. In the heat of the moment, when a migraine is at it’s worst, it’s hard to remember, but sometimes the simple cures my mother used to lecture me on, the old wive’s tales, work best for me. Turn out the lights and rest your eyes in a dark room. Put a wash cloth over your face. Take a shower. Rest, sleep.

–Have a grateful heart. A grateful heart won’t change things, but I’ve found that the more grateful I am for my good health, the better I’m able to deal with the migraines when they come.

And of course thank goodness for modern day science too to help when the pain gets to be too much.

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