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Cloudy Weather & Rain a Migraine Trigger

Clouds equal migraines for me, it’s that simple. In my six years in Seattle, I refused to recognize that I felt better when I was visiting Phoenix or vacationing at a sunny destination, always thinking it was because I took medication while traveling or forced myself to do more than I did at home. Moving to Boston in 2009, where the weather changes regularly, and keeping a headache diary forced me to admit the connection between clouds and the severity of my migraines.

In the 14 months I lived in Boston, a “good day” meant I had between one and three hours of feeling well enough to be off the couch. On average, I got this respite twice a month. In the “good” time, I’d go to the farmers’ market, get groceries or, occasionally, treat myself to a trip to the arboretum. Sometimes I’d do housework with glee (cleaning and pleasure had, until last year, been mutually exclusive). Rarely was I able to make a doctor’s appointment on my own. Hart would have to leave work to take me. Running errands was an epic accomplishment. Hell, shaving my legs was nearly as exciting as a night on the town (an impossibility for at least five years.) Except for the five Dave Matthews Band and six Phish shows, which I absolutely refuse to miss because they are so restorative, I had no life.

The best news I’ve had in 10 years is that I’ve finally found an effective treatment. Hart and I are moving to Phoenix. To all of you whose migraines are triggered by weather, I’m sorry to say that my remedy is so extreme. He and I are fortunate to have grown up there. Our friends and family are there. Our roots are there.

Wait, I should say they are here. I’ve effectively moved, living at my mom’s house for the last three weeks. Hart will visit in a couple weeks, then join me at the end of January. To make this move happen, Hart will be leaving his dream job. He’ll stay with the same company, but his role won’t be the same. While we’d both rather this not be the case, the prospect of getting a life (and his wife!) back far outweighs the cost.

My solution is nowhere near perfect. I’m far from migraine-free in Phoenix and the background headache is ever-present. Even with the sky a brilliant blue, I still have a migraine every day. But each migraine is a distinct episode. That is, they end. Whereas I’m used to one migraine running into another, happy when I have even an hour-long break, the ones I have in Phoenix often only last six hours. Sometimes a Midrin, a naproxen and a nap will reduce the duration to two hours. I leave the house nearly every day.

Yes, that’s right, I leave the house nearly every day. I’m not exaggerating to say it feels like a miracle.

19 Responses to Cloudy Weather & Rain a Migraine Trigger

  1. Diana Lee says:

    How fantastic, Kerrie. I hope this change continues to improve your quality of life. Getting out every day?! Wonderful! I hope we might see you around online more often. 🙂

    *******
    Thanks, Diana!

    Kerrie

  2. Katherine says:

    Thanks so much for the update. Paul and I were wondering. I’m so glad you’ve found some relief and I do hope it continues, maybe even increases.

    Katherine

    *******
    Thank you. Please visit us sometime when you need a break from the gray, gray winter!

    Yoga helped quite a bit when I was here in September. I’m going to start again later this week and hope it has the same effect.

    Kerrie

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the update.. I’m happy to hear that you’ve found a “solution” even though it’s such a drastic (and difficult) one.

    Best wishes!

    ********
    Thanks. It is difficult in some ways and very easy in others. Life in Phoenix is easy and we love the people here.

    Kerrie

  4. emily says:

    I’m so glad to hear this update – and that you’re finding some relief. Maybe I need to do the same thing. My headaches/migraines are much the same where bad weather is concerned.

  5. Carma says:

    I’m so excited for you Kerrie!

  6. Jamie says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you’ve founds something to help your migraines. Wow! Leaving the house every day! That’s great! I hope that you continue to improve. Blessings to you.

  7. Parin Stormlaughter says:

    YES!!! Wonderful news!

    If anyone needs FURTHER EVIDENCE that keeping a migraine journal WORKS, Kerrie tells us!

    Praying for you both and, just, YAY!

  8. Audra says:

    Hi Kerrie, I’m so glad to hear you’ve found some relief. I’ve noticed that when I go to Europe (Over the years I’ve been there for periods as long as four months and as short as two weeks), my CDH nearly disappears.

    I’ve wondered if it has something to do with the weather, atmosphere, place it is on the globe, etc. I’ve talked to my husband about moving there, but that would be quite drastic and who knows if it would actually work.

    Hope you continue to keep feeling better.

  9. Jo says:

    Kerrie, I am so happy to hear that your migraines have improved!!

    I’ve never had migraines as bad as what I read from your blog and in the comments, and I always just felt so bad for all of you when I was finished reading. As bad as mine felt, they didn’t compare to what you all suffered through. Thank goodness some relief has come your way!

    As for me, I have lost the persistent background headache that I had for many months, and now I am down to 1-2 small migraines per month. (Usually hormonally related.) I stopped taking BCP’s. I gave up caffeine, nuts, and red wine, and have taken magnesium and B2 supplements for a few months, and that all did the trick for me. But I know it is not so simple for others.

    Best wishes as you and the other commenters here seek relief. I hope you find it!

  10. Stacie says:

    Wonderful news. I’ve followed your blog and am thankful to have a place where others understand the life altering changes that come with daily chronic migraine. I hope you continue to feel better and get out. I know how hard it is.

  11. Bureinato says:

    Glad you found something, even if it is moving again.

  12. Charlotte says:

    Kerrie,

    My daughter & I read your post together & wept. I have suffered from chronic daily migraines for 8 years & weather is the biggest trigger. If it were not for my girls, a move to a more stable climate would be blessed relief. Just to shower every day is something that I dream of.

    I pray for your continued improvement – so few can relate to this disease & what it takes away from those of us who suffer from it.

  13. Deb says:

    Kerrie,
    Hope your life improves. I have had some improvement with Vitamin D3 – to 3000 units a day, magnesium (a little diarrhea but not too bad), and B-50 complex, no chocolate, alcohol or processed foods . . . In cold Philly, changes in weather make my head hurt too, but the severity is less with these supplements. Yesterday, I got busy with a sewing project until the nasal zomig started working – it is still holding off a lot of the pain so I can function today. Best wishes to all seeking relief from migraines, that all readers get some life back into their lives.

  14. Julie says:

    Kerrie,
    This is such amazing news! I fully support your decision to move back home, and tell Hart that he is one amazing husband. I know that I was better when we lived in Hawaii. The weather there is incomparable – almost no humidity, no thunderstorms, just blue skies and occasional rain. My hope is that when my daughter graduates high school in two years that we can buy a second home and visit for long stretches of time until my husband retires. Please keep us updated on your move. 🙂

  15. Maureen says:

    Kerrie,
    So glad to hear of your improvement even though it involved such a drastic change to your lives. But being near family is great. Best wishes to you in Phoenix.
    Weather changes are such a big trigger for many of us. For me, after extensive diary work inclusive of foods and weather changes (barometric), the discovery and elimination of many food triggers, I was left with the sad fact of barometric triggers (difficult to avoid). Phoenix and the extreme Southwest US may be my ultimate recourse, nothing else is really working for me.
    Here is a great website to help those who may suspect weather is related to their headaches. http://www.wunderground.com/
    Enter your city and state of interest. You can then select History under the Local Weather tab to find historical data for periods of up to a year. Very helpful in researching areas where variation is minimal oe understand the variation in your hometown.
    A site with some predictive value is MediClim.com. Gives a prediction of when a migraine might strike in the next 24 hrs, sending you an email. Pretty good in predicting my 8 or 10s.
    Best wishes to all.

  16. nurse with headaches says:

    Remember those old ads where they used to say “send your sinuses to arizona!”

    Well, turns out it was really migraines after all. The decongestants are also vasoconstrictors and thats why they help the “sinus headaches.”

  17. loisrue says:

    I’m so glad I found this site. Sometimes I feel like my pain is all in my head (no pun). I live in northern Illinois, and the weather here changes daily, mainly damp,windy, and overcast, and ranging from very very cold to hot. I feel much better when I travel to other areas of the country. My husband is born and raised in Thailand, and keeps mentioning how inexpensive it is to retire there. The weather there is hot and humid with quite a few t-storms, even in their ‘cooler northern region’. There is no way that will happen, unless he plans on living there and visiting me in AZ or some similar place.

  18. Sherry says:

    I am age 53 have lived in Denver Colorado since I was age 4. I have suffered with both “Regular” headaches and migraines my entire life. I just moved to Phoenix 3 weeks ago and immediately noticed that both my migraines have stopped and my “Regular” (Non-migraine) headaches have reduced significantly.

    When I do have a small non-migraine headache I take a Tylenol and it goes away. (In Denver Tylenol did not touch my pain at all.)

    My only problem is that I hate Phoenix. The heat is unbearable and you can’t get away from it. Even air conditioned stores and movie theaters feel extremely hot to me.

    I’d love to get out of here and move to a more moderate climate like Eugene OR, but I’m afriad the cloudy overcast days will bring on migraines as they did in Denver.

    Maybe I’ll take a vacation ti Eugene Or and see how I feel.
    I knew from my first week in Phoenix that I was not having headaches.

    • The first summer is always difficult, especially when a person arrives after it’s already hot. Most people recommend running errands in the morning, but I prefer to go out in the evening after the sun has gone down. Two more expensive, but very helpful, ideas are wearing a cooling vest (http://migraine.com/blog/secret-weapon-for-heat-triggers/) and getting a remote starter for your car so you can start it cooling down before you get in.

      It will get better with time! This is my fourth summer back and the heat is barely bothering me this year.

      Kerrie

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