Coping, Symptoms

Baby Steps to Minimize the Impact of Migraines & Headaches

“I’m not happy” is what my friend’s three-year-old says when another kid has something he wants. Whether he’s eying a root beer or the rocking chair, this simple statement expresses so much. Obviously something has to change to make him happy, or at the very least, not unhappy.

Since hearing him say this, I’ve replaced specific complaints with “I’m not happy.” Instead of feeling helpless in the face of pain, sensitivity to touch or any other symptom I have, another goal occupies me — to not have whatever is going on in my body or mind make me unhappy.

I can’t make any of my symptoms go away, but I can minimize their impact. I distract myself from pain by reading, listening to music (quietly) or focusing on how I’m breathing. When sensitive to touch, I sit up so nothing touches my head.

Doing what it takes to make myself not unhappy is so much easier than wrestling with Big Issues. Yes, having migraine is horrible. Worrying about it is useless. Making myself suffer even a little less is more than worthwhile.

I can’t make my migraine and chronic daily headache go away, but I can make living with them not so hard.

11 thoughts on “Baby Steps to Minimize the Impact of Migraines & Headaches”

  1. I assume many if not all of you have tried multiple approaches to finding releif from your pain, so please bear with my suggestion for maybe one person has not heard of this. Seeking to be pain free myself I recently came across a book called Pain Free in 6-weeks by Sherry A. Rogers, MD. I found it on the web site by The Power Hour
    In the book she tells about foods called Nightshades and how 2/3 of the people who have given up these foods experience relief from all kinds of pain including migraines. The foods are potatoes; tomatoes; peppers – red, green, yellow, orange, hot; cayenne; tobacco, and of course any foods that contain these. The book has a lot more to it and other non-traditional solutions (diet, minerals, etc) if the Nightshade free diet is not the answer for you, with the most drastic being a macrobiotic diet which has had amazing results.

  2. Are these headaches the teens are getting diagnosed as migraines or are they something else? I personally had severe headaches daily the whole of my teens, twenties and thirties, then a wonderful physical therapist told me they were related to my fibromyalgia and showed me excercises to loosen up my neck and shoulder muslces and also taught me to ice them. I mean really ice them, take nude ice and rub it on the skin until it is numb. The headache will go away.

  3. To Kelly with the daughter in pain,

    My 15 year old daughter is also dealing with “chronic daily headache”. No medication gives her relief and our trips to the neurologist end in higher doses of medicines that don’t work, make her drowsy, and waste more of her time. She has been lucky to be able to still function at school and on her sports team. We are trying some different diet options, as her teenage cousin discovered a wheat/corn food sensitivity that triggered her own daily headaches. I am researching food sensitivity and the impact of additives and going organic, etc. on migraines. My daughter is a very willing partcipant in the dietary changes because she wants the headaches to go away. At least we feel like we are doing something but no luck yet.

    My neighbor has been dealing with a similar issue with her 15 year old son and I know he has debilitating headaches that keep him out of school. Is this a defined condition for teens?

  4. Hello All, My daughter is 15 and she has been fighting migraines for three years. Then in October 2007, the headache came and has never gone away. No meds help, she’s had numerous tests that I’m sure you’re all familiar with – no relief. In December her doctor said I needed to push her to get out of the house and learn to “live with the pain”. Pretty great thing to have to do to a kid eh? She cannot go to school full time but is attempting one class now and stays to help the teachers – just so she isn’t at home alone and bored. She is one of those that cannot read so we are thinking of getting lessons on tapes…..I am writing because I feel so sad sometimes, that I can’t make this better for my daughter. I feel so bad for all of you as well. I know the pain, as I used to have migraines the odd time, but nothing compared to what you all suffer with.
    I’m a mom. I’m supposed to fix things for my daughter and make her feel better and I can’t. She is holding up so well, but the odd time she cries because she is missing out on so much. Anyone going through this with their child?

  5. I, too, bury myself in books in magazines (or the History Channel) when a migraine pummels me. I find that if the plot is interesting enough, I can forget about the pain for a moment or two, and as we all know, we live for those moments.

    Once when I was in my 20s, I was felled by a migraine. This was before Imitrex was widely available and waaaay before Botox and Myoblox (sp?). With no alternative, I managed to drive to a doc in box.

    I waited over an hour… When the doctor stepped in the room, he saw me flipping through a magazine said, “You have no migraine. You are able to read and look comfortable.”

    Have you ever wanted to deck a doctor.

    Those days are long gone. I now see Dr. Robert Hansen (my husband and I call him Dr. Bob) and the Center for Pain Management in Portsmouth, Virginia.

    Dr. Bob listened, understood, and then starting listing options… options I had never even heard of before.

    My insurance doesn’t cover the cost of Botox and Myoblox shots, but I willingly shell out the extra cash… The difference in my life has been amazing.

    Something others may consider is alternating back and forth between Botox and Myoblox. When my body gets too used to one, I can switch to the other for awhile.



  6. One of the best “meds” I’ve found for migraine is my account with books on tape downloads.
    When I have disabling pain and can’t sleep, or when I have a prodrome that makes me clumsy and unfocussed, I find that a good audio book takes me away from the problems. A good plot takes me to another place and another time, far from the pain or confusion. I don’t read a book, due to the problem with light and vision, but an audio book can be even better. A great narrator who can create vivid characters and a sense of drama can make me forget the worst of the problem… least until the story ends.

  7. Re: recommended pillows

    Any suggestions on a good pillow to relieve neck tension and headaches (to the extent possible). I’ve heard memory foam pillows are recommended, and I’m just wondering if a particular pillow has worked well for anyone visiting this site?

    Many thanks in advance,


  8. Dear Kerrie,

    I love that statement. It made me laugh out loud because as of late when I am feeling just utterly miserable due to a migraine my husband and son have recently started saying ‘You just aren’t happy are you?” What can I do to make it better? They are wonderful. If I need quiet time they give it to me, if I need a back rub I get it, if i need a cup of tea they will make it. These kind things they do for me make dealing with the migraine so much easier.

    I am so lucky to have such an understanding family and I have trained them well in the 10 years I have been dealing with migraines!

    Thanks once again for writng your blog, I hope you never stop because you always give me something to think about.

    Hope you have a painfree weekend as possible.

    Take care,

    Your family sounds excellent. I’m so glad you have people to care for you so well.

    Thanks for the kind words.


  9. This is just what I needed to read today, after wallowing in the “why me? why again?” feelings brought on by yet another migraine. I’m not coping well with it today. It isn’t so bad that I’m useless and incapacitated, but it’s bad enough to get in the way of what I want to do and has me feeling grumpy.

    So I’m not happy. What can I do to change that, even just a little bit? That is what I will ponder. Good post.

    Yesterday I couldn’t figure out any way to make myself not unhappy. I hope you were able to find something for yourself.

    I spent yesterday reminding myself that it’s OK to wallow in it sometimes. 🙂


  10. this post is a great reminder. i think all of us w/chronic pain go through periods where we deal w/it well, and times when we don’t. i find that one of my greatest tools is distracting myself. reading, crocheting, listening to a quiet movie….talking w/my husband. the more i can distract myself from the pain, the better off i am.

    I agree that we go through phases of coping well and not. I’m a firm believer in wallowing in it when I need to.

    I know a lot of migraineurs can’t read or do anything with their eyes during a migraine. I don’t know what I would do if that ever became the case for me. I’d be lost without books for distraction.

    Take care,

  11. This is one reason I’m so glad I found your blog. Your attitude about migraines ROCKS.

    When I’m in the throes of a bad headache/migraine, sometimes there is nothing I can do but sleep. If I’m able, I will listen to my MP3 player, but sometimes even music hurts too much. So I crash on an ice pack until my meds kick in.

    I’ve been teaching my son to read, and tonight, while waiting to get to vicodinland (LOL) we worked on a book to distract me. My eyes hurt, so I just took off my glasses which helped.

    “I’m not happy”. I like that.

    The wisdom of kids is priceless!

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m happy to hear that reframing helps you too. Reading with your son must be a wonderful distraction for both of you.

    Take care,

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