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What kind of help during a migraine attack do you want?

help-during-a-migraine“I’m really worried about her and wonder what I can do to better support her before, (especially) during, and after an attack.” The boyfriend of a woman with migraine sent me this. Since different people want different kinds of help during a migraine attack, I recommended asking her directly. But it prompted me to create a list of the kinds of help that people with migraine actually want during an attack.

I need your help. Here are the questions I’d like to address. Please leave your responses in the comments (or respond to this message if you receive posts by email). Answer as many or as few as you’d like.

  • What can someone do to help you in the early stages of a migraine attack?
  • During a migraine attack, do you want someone with you or to be left alone? If someone’s with you, what do you want them to do? If you’re alone, do you want someone to check on you?
  • What would help you when you’re recovering from a migraine attack (postdrome)? Do you need to take it easy for a while or do you resume life as if the attack never happened?
  • Between migraine attacks, is there any way someone could help you make your next attack easier?

In my dual migraine household, we have a different routine depending on who is having the attack. When Hart has one, I put water, ear plugs, an eye pillow, and the remote control for the light/fan beside the bed while he takes his meds. I smooth the bedding, arrange his pillows, and turn on the air filter for white noise. I make sure he has his phone and that my ringer is on so he can reach me if I’m out of earshot. Then I leave him alone. After the worst of the attack, I make sure he’s fed and we usually do something low-key, like watch TV or a baseball game.

My migraine attacks are so varied that we take a case-by-case approach. Sometimes I only need help getting my meds. Sometimes I need help to bed, with gathering my migraine supplies, or finishing up something I was in the middle of doing (which usually means having Hart put food away). Depending on how severe the attack is and if I can sit up, I either spend it alone or watching TV. If I can think clearly (which is rare), we play a game. Same goes for postdrome.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

8 Responses to What kind of help during a migraine attack do you want?

  1. Rachel O. says:

    * What can someone do to help you in the early stages of a migraine attack?
    Since my migraines are constant, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed and everything in between every day since age 7 (I am 27 now) there really is no “pre” stage for me. However, if I know my migraine is going to get worse or it’s slowly getting worse throughout the day to a point I can’t handle anymore, my boyfriend Sean is the only person I trust to set me up in bed and get my migraine supplies. I haven’t found any medicine that offers me any relief yet (still working on that with my Neurologist) but a cold rag on my head and/or neck, some luke-warm water or tea, and complete silence and darkness are all I can do and he helps me to set that up. Probably the biggest thing he can do for me though is provide emotional support and calmness in the situation for me.

    * During a migraine attack, do you want someone with you or to be left alone? If someone’s with you, what do you want them to do? If you’re alone, do you want someone to check on you?
    I feel bad having Sean sit with me in the dark. I prefer a mixture of having him there and being alone. I know I need sleep and complete quiet if I can get it, but having him check in on me means a lot emotionally as well. When he checks on me I prefer he doesn’t talk hardly at all and just provides me with a nice gesture like holding my hand. Otherwise if he’s not there I just want to know I can text him and he’d come in the room if I needed him.

    * What would help you when you’re recovering from a migraine attack (postdrome)? Do you need to take it easy for a while or do you resume life as if the attack never happened?
    I definitely need to take it easy. As my migraines never go away I will still be in pain regardless so I always try to take it easy as much as I can. Normally post-attack I prefer to just quietly talk with Sean or watch a movie or youtube. I prefer not to be alone post-attack though because I am often sad after bad attacks. Being that I haven’t found any relief through diet change, exercise, medicine, lifestyle changes yet after so many years of constant persistent migraine, even with a Neurologist so far, I often feel pretty hopeless after big attacks.
    * Between migraine attacks, is there any way someone could help you make your next attack easier?
    Just purely understanding what my migraines are like (because a lot of people don’t understand that there are many different types of migraines) and that I don’t want to hear things like “I would kill myself if I had a migraine every moment of my life like you.” It’s hard enough dealing with the chronic pain with no relief of any kind, let alone the mental pain you go through. To hear people say they would kill themselves or “you must have NO life” – well, it hurts.

  2. K says:

    I want people to accept that I am in the middle of an attack and that I’m hating it. I don’t want suggestions of what may have triggered it (this makes me feel guilty), what may help it (often inappropriate) or what may prevent the next one. Mid-attack is not the time for analysis. I hate to seem ungrateful but well-meaning comments can add to the burden.

  3. Jenny says:

    My migraines vary also. My severe ones tend to be the ones I wake up with but I’m so out of it, it is difficult to ask for help unless someone is in the room. I have to fumble to get my immitrex injection. My husband is able to give me these and this helps. Ice pack is great if someone is home to help. Dim light with tv on low. For me having something to listen to gets my mind off the pain and helps me fall asleep. Nice if someone to get my anti-nausea medicine. I either keep a bell near by or my cell phone in case I need someone so they don’t have to feel tied down. Believe it or not just saying you’re sorry that I’m feeling bad helps. Plus telling me he still loves me after i apologize that I interfered with our plans once again. With the mild ones I can manage myself but I still feel out of it. Offering any of the above plus offering to fix me something to eat.

  4. Nonnie Willing says:

    My migraines are chronic so I have gotten a container that is on my bed stand so most of what I need is available for my hubby to help me out. He gets me some water, ginger ale, an ice hat and makes sure my phone and remote are next to me. The container has such things as you provide Hart. It has my meds, of course, an eye mask, heating pad, ear plugs, icy hot patches, tiger balm and lavender oil. If you don’t have a ‘Headace Hat’ (or 2 or 3 of them) they are the actually a stretchy band filled with cubes that freeze and it wraps around your head and closes in back with Velcro. You can be mobile with them and the don’t get wet and drips like ice bags can. You can get them on Amazon. I like my hubby to check in on me in person, and at times just want him to lay with me and hold me. Once I feel some better and can watch tv or a computer I always have my TheraSpecs. Another product, if you havent tried yet, they are made for photophobia and they help immensely. I usually get emotional after bad attacks and sometimes I want to just cry alone and get it out, other times I want to talk through it with my husband. I only have 2 other people besides my hubby who truly understand what I go through on a daily basis. Sometimes I visit with one of them to give my hubby a break.
    Men like to fix things and this is s hard illness for them to deal wth because they can’t make it better in the way and time frame they would ; like if fixing something broken in the house. I know my hubby worries very much about me both physically and mentally, and rightfully so. This is a terrible illness.Period. But we have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We have no other choice. Take it easy on yourself and your husband/boyfriend. You need each other.

  5. Albert says:

    Nice Post! I read this post, It is very useful for everyone. I got information about migraine attack and treatment. Thanks for publishing this post.

  6. Nonnie Willing says:

    I’m glad you got something out of my post, I have learned so much from this website and blog from others experiences and remedies-it is the resource I use the most, no one has better ideas and solutions than those of us going through chronic migraines. Thank you for your compliment!

  7. Liz says:

    What can someone do to help you in the early stages of a migraine attack?
    If I am at work I need my colleagues to tell me to go home if I need to, and don’t worry, they will handle whatever I was supposed to be doing. I don’t need them to ask me what’s triggered it or their suggestions of what might help. If I am at home, or once I am at home, I need my partner to fix the throw over the curtain rail to block out all light, get the sick bowl, get me a cold/frozen towel (if there are none in the freezer to put some in), and to make sure I have my phone by the side of my bed. If in the first 12-18 hours of an attack when I am vomiting though it’s pretty impossible for me to pick up/use the phone so he needs to come in every hour or so check I don’t need the towel changing.

    During a migraine attack, do you want someone with you or to be left alone? If someone’s with you, what do you want them to do? If you’re alone, do you want someone to check on you?
    During the vomiting stage I prefer to be left alone in the bedroom but need occasional visits to check I am OK, so I prefer my partner to be in the next room. Sometimes it’s nice to have a cuddle but not for long.

    What would help you when you’re recovering from a migraine attack (postdrome)? Do you need to take it easy for a while or do you resume life as if the attack never happened?
    My migraines can last for 3-5 days. It helps not to have responsibilities to worry about (work appointments/deadlines etc) so if my colleagues are able to take care of things that really helps. If I am still in bed but able to eat I need my partner to prepare food. Once the vomiting has finished and if the headache is not too severe, I can listen to audio books/radio in the dark which keeps me entertained. I normally go through an anxious/depressed phase once recovery starts, so it’s nice to have my partner on hand to help cheer me up if necessary.

    Between migraine attacks, is there any way someone could help you make your next attack easier?
    My main issue in recent years is that since I have taken more reposnsibilities in my job, it’s become more difficult having migraine attacks. I am in a fairly good situation right now as my current colleagues (especially my closest colleague) has a good understanding of my attacks and will do anything they can to help out and take the responsibility away from me. I make sure my work calendar has as much detail in as possible in case they need to cover/cancel appointments for me, and if it looks like a migraine attack is brewing, I try to make sure that they are prepared for it. It helps that they are understanding of the situation and prepared so that if I am ill, I don’t need to worry too much about the consequences. I am starting a new job in a month, and I think it’s going to be difficult to build that relationship/understanding again from scratch!

  8. Debby says:

    When I realize it will be a migraine, the best thing my husband can do for me is get the bedroom as dark as possible. Remove all clocks in the room. Find my ear plugs and eye mask. Make sure the waste basket is clean and there for me. Get my medicine, turn off the phone, shut the door and check on me regularly. Many times I have to go to the doctor for a shot. At that time I just need sleep with no interruptions When I get up I usually have no real side effects except minor things such as blurred vision and ringing in my ears. In between attacks I just want you to try and understand. A certain smell or crazy weather pattern is enough to send me to the bedroom. Close friends know not to wear perfume around me. Most people would never think of this because it doesn’t effect them. If you have someone who can explain a few small things, it makes a big difference.I know most people don’t understand but a open mind helps. If they have never had a migraine, you can not know. I have a headache every day but thank God not a migraine.

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