When I was in Seattle last summer, I wrote about my grief that migraine kept me from living in the city that felt like home to me. A few months later, when friends were visiting for Thanksgiving, I was hit with the realization that Phoenix had become my home. I continue to be surprised by just how much I like living here now.
Returning to Phoenix wasn’t in my plan until I made the connection between weather and the severity of my migraine attacks.* I only agreed to come back after Hart and I decided I would try to spend summers in Seattle. That’s not just because summer is hot and stormy in Phoenix, but because I felt like I needed that time in Seattle. Not anymore.
I often describe my relationship with Seattle as troubled romance. Despite how much I love her, we’re not compatible. In fact, with her cloudy skies and rain, Seattle can be downright cruel to someone with weather-triggered migraines. I’m pretty sure I loved her more than she loved me. We broke up years ago, but I always thought we’d get back together. I’ve officially moved on. (Though I wouldn’t be opposed to summer flings.)
I’m no longer angry that migraine forced me to give up my favorite city; I’m thrilled that it has led me to discover Phoenix anew. I don’t wish I lived anywhere else, though I’m still eager to travel and explore the world. I miss my friends elsewhere, but adore my loved ones here. Pine trees and lakes, which I definitely still need, are only a couple hours away (and Ponderosa bark smells like vanilla).
My emotional “home” in Seattle was on the sofa in front of the fireplace. I don’t have a special place like that in Phoenix. That bothered me until I realized I don’t need one. My entire house is my center, the whole city is my home. I no longer think “I want to go home” during a bad migraine; I’m already here.
*Moving didn’t reduce my migraines as much as I’d hoped when I first returned. See Relocating to Reduce Weather Triggers, on Migraine.com, for the full update.
(photo by John Stavely)
13 thoughts on “I Relocated for Migraine & Found My Home”
This article is a relief. My ex-husband, who lives back in Seattle area, thought I was exaggerating. (Hence, among other things, HE is my ex. Haha.) When I lived down in sunny California I had maybe two migraines my whole life. Becaus of monetary issues, I moved up to Spokane, WA because I had family here. The climate here, is a lot like the high desert I grew up in California. I wasn’t experiencing any migraines, even with the snow. Haha. I moved over to the Seattle area and boom, here come these chronic migraines! They were debilitating. I missed my sons birthday party and some holidays. I tried everything. Doctors had no answers. I tried detoxing, change my diet, elimination diet…… I occasionally would come back to Spokane to visit family and then they disappeared. What a relief! I was in such a disbelief, that I started to cry. I was going through years of 3 weeks out of every month with a migraine. I me told my then husband, that I think the weather was triggering my migraines, of course he thought I was exaggerating and was just assuming I wanted to move closer to my family. He was staying put. 🙁 It came to a point after 10 years, that enough was enough. Aside from his not believing me, he never supported me on anything and became abusive. It was time to leave. And that is what I did. I have been back in the Spokane area for almost 5 years now. I get little trigger migraines right before my period. But I will pop in an antihistamine pill and curb it right away. Two days versus 3 weeks? I WILL take that, thank you very much! I have to admit, this year our weather had been weird and quite unpredictable. I have had a 2 week migraine with this weather kookiness. I need to invest in a barometer and check that every morning! I definitely urge chronic migraine sufferers to travel to higher drier climates for at least 4 days at a stretch and see if that helps. If you find that it is the weather/climate, do you and your family a favor and consider moving. I just didn’t suffer through these headaches, my children did too. I was laid up and no good to anyone. I would rather see my family occasionally and be in a better condition, instead of all the time and yet still be occasionally inept.
Olive I live in Tucson and while I still get headaches, I’m down to one mild one and one severe one per month. I wear sunglasses everywhere and carry water everywhere and try to limit my sugar and sleep on my back with a mouth guard. I don’t know if any one thing is helping or just all the little things add up but I love Tucson with all of my heart and even during monsoon season the humidity does not bother my head like it used to in Florida. We also use a humidifier all the time and swamp coolers when the weather permits.
Kerrie, olive on Whidbey Island. “Live?”not really. Weather migraines most of the time have made migraines becom chronic. A friend is eager for me to sell my house and move to Tucson with her (trial basis, just rent for the winter). Bright sun, though, is tough. I find grey days on Whidbey a relief. Also I have Sjogrens Syndrome so Tucsons dryness may play havoc. Any comments?
Hi Jeannie, I’m sorry to hear you’re having such trouble with the weather on Whidbey. If you can swing a trial stay in Tucson, it sounds like it could be a worthwhile experiment. I’m not sure about Sjogrens and Tucson, though it does seem like it would be a definite concern. While I’m not trying to sell you anything, outdoor TheraSpecs (the company my husband and I cofounded) can be really helpful because they filter the wavelengths of light that are most problematic for people with migraine, which happen to be very strong in sunlight. Like I said, I don’t want to try to sell you anything, but wanted you to know that there are solutions for managing bright light.
I have had severe headaches my whole life- I remember them as a young child throbbing with my heartbeat. I am now almost 60 and have found some relief in understanding and responding to my increased understanding of my personal triggers. My son had migraines that bothered him when he was young and pretty much never has them once he left adolescence. One of my daughters has food and hormone related trigger migraines as I did. My migraines almost went away completely with menopause but I have noticed I still get severe headaches at times that are related to barometric weather drops…anything below 30 mm hg I will notice but instead of being in half of my head it is my whole head- like my skull is too small for my brain. I live in sinus valley/ Dayton, Ohio – next door to the highest ranked city for migraines… but I don’t plan to move as my loved ones are here. I did find a lot of help in keeping a journal of when my migraines would hit and analyzing trends. I found that some of the common triggers were consistent with my issues and some were not( coffee and caffeinated drinks are bad, black tea actually helps; high quality milk chocolate is fine in smaller amounts dark chocolate and cheap chocolates are bad for me). My daughter seemed to benefit from going to an allergist that analyzed her food allergies- we both have migraines from wine- but hers is red wine and mine is any kind of wine. I have done my own analysis and haven’t found that much help with medical practitioners, but the science might be improving. I have had the best help from friends and personal research. My brain responding to barometric pressure is new to me. I am going to see what I can do if staying hydrated helps, try taking probiotics again, and relaxing as much muscle tension as I can as my tense muscles make it worse. I avoid pharmaceuticals as much as possible as I have had some history of health issues from long term use of acetaminophen for migraines. And when headache pain wakes me in the middle of the night, I am kind to myself, and adjust my lifestyle for the day as best I can and treasure all my life’s sweetness and the beautiful quiet peacefulness of that time which I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. rest and comfort be with us all
Dear Susan and all other migrainers, I am in my 34th year of migraines and headache disorder. I can relate to all that I read here and I am saddened to hear these stories ! I moved to Colorado 20 years ago and YES my HA’s worsened. My husband and my adult children are here and makes the idea of moving very hard, but seems necessary. My triggers are FOOD and the weather changes. I have a very small amount of foods that seem to be OK, My answer is healing my GUT ! I just keep hearing a variety of remedies to accomplish this. My insurance carrier approves a VERY large QTY of Frova. I have had the best results with this drug. I am super sensitive to all medications so all of the preventative meds caused added problems. Long story short, be sure to check out diet issues as a renown HA specialist asked me if I knew my triggers ? YES, INDEED, it’s most foods. He replied, I am happy you know that since many sufferers do not relate their HA’s to foods. I pray for each of you and continue to try and find answers to my HA’s !
I moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada a couple years ago. Prior to this I had NEVER had a migraine headache but now I live with then constantly as the pressure changes and temperatures climb. I have lived in United Kingdom, USA (California) and Bermuda to date. I am considering moving, anywhere at this point, do you know of any warm places which do not induce migraines?
I also suffer from constant headaches here in Calgary, due to our Chinooks. When I see an arch in the sky, it’s like the entire atmosphere is falling down on me. They have always been pressure headaches, but recently I had my first migraine. I am deciding where to move.
I don’t take any drugs, but caffeine really helps. Also, neck and trap massage.
Jessa, magnesium seems to help with my weather-triggered migraine attacks. I take it daily to maintain a good baseline. It’s inexpensive and gentle on the system, so it might be worth a try before moving. Best wishes!
I have constant migraine headaches. I have taken thousands of pills, had botox, nerve blocks, infusions of DHE and Depacon (both of which I ended up being allergic to.)
I am starting to really feel the depression of not being able to go out of the house, not being able to attend events, go out with my husband and friends etc. I have had these for 9 years.
Anyone else out there have constant head pain and nausea?? I live in Upstate NY where we have lots of rain and little sun! I have wondered about moving out west to a better climate.
Susan, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I had constant migraines for years and know how hard it can be. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any clear answers about whether moving will help. Please hang in there and keep trying new treatments. It can be exhausting to keep at it and terribly discouraging when they don’t work out, but I believe there’s some form of relief out there for everyone, it’s a matter of finding it.
Sometimes I wonder if I would feel better living elsewhere…but then I have to remind myself I’ve lived on two other continents and STILL had migraines (I just wasn’t chronic). I think it’s easy for the mind to wonder if the grass is greener. I agree about embracing the benefits of living in a place where you already have friends/family. When I look back on my old life it’s so foreign & I can’t imagine trying to do all that again in my current chronic migraine state.
Mindy, there’s definitely a grass-is-greener tendency, especially for people who are a lot of pain.