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Balance is Overrated: Choosing Fun Despite Knowing Vengeful Migraine Imminent

teeter totter signI mentioned to a friend who has migraine how tempting it is to overindulge whenever I feel OK. I say I won’t but always do it anyway. Her perspective? Go ahead and push it during a good period. The migraine will return sometime whether you take it easy or not. There’s no reason to hold back.

She gave me that was brilliant advice while we were at Green Lake yesterday. We did the 2.8 mile walk after coffee and before a late lunch. Five hours flew by and we both enjoyed every minute of it. We parted knowing that each of us would spend the rest of yesterday and probably today on the couch. And neither of us cared.

I gave myself permission to enjoy feeling good, no matter what the “consequences” were. I feel horrible today, but yesterday was excellent. I’m not berating myself for choosing to enjoy my day. Knowing it was my choice somehow makes it better. Now I’m going back to the couch.

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photo credit: navonod

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The Benefits of Getting Out and About

Going out this morning was an excellent idea. My body was tired, but I made myself go anyway. I was never further than 10 minutes from my house, so I knew driving back would be possible even if I felt awful. I did a lot in the three hours, but the most important part is that I went.

My two months of migraines coincided with the arrival of fall — which is when Seattleites begin to hibernate for the long wet winter. Add to that baseball playoffs in October (when all I want to do is watch the games) and I have to wonder if I haven’t pushed myself enough.

It isn’t that I’m worried that I’m lazy or faking it, more that I’m giving in to each migraine attack too easily. There’s a fine line between when it is OK to keep going and when it’s time to stop. Sometimes I negotiate it well, other times not so much.

Fear is partly to blame. I don’t want the migraine to come, so I don’t provoke it. The sad truth is that it’s arrival is inevitable. Does going out make it come sooner? Does lying on the couch keep it at bay? Maybe, maybe not.

Today the benefits exceeded the risks. It was nice to see more than the square footage of our house. It could have been a blip in the middle of my bad spell. It could just as well be an indication that I’m being too cautious. In any case, the 31 books I bought (for a total of $50!) will carry me through whatever is ahead.

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My Health-Friendly Schedule

I avoided a severe migraine from Thursday to Monday when I was in Phoenix for a wedding. I was extra careful to nap when I needed to (every afternoon!), use caffeine when necessary and take lots of Advil (it was for cramps, but I’m sure it settled my head down too). I’m convinced that the nap is the crucial part of the equation.

The routine was so successful that I have a renewed commitment to get on a schedule. My main goals are to rest, exercise daily, eat wholesome meals regularly, and not stay up too late mucking about on the computer. All of which should ease my migraines. Here’s the schedule I spent the last two hours making:

8:30 – 9:30: Wake up, shower, eat breakfast, 15-minute yoga practice or drive to class

9:30 – 11:00: Walk or yoga class

11:00 – 1:00: Errands and household chores

1:00 – 2:30: Lunch and work

2:30 – 4:00: Relax and nap

4:00 – 5:30: Work

5:30 – 6:30: Make dinner

6:30 – 10:00: Play — eat dinner, spend time with Hart, see friends and maybe some more work (computer off at 10!)

10:00 – 11:00: Get ready for bed, 30 minutes of relaxing yoga, read

I already see flaws. I’d like to spend four solid hours writing for the blog on Mondays. I often have lunch with my friend and yoga teacher after class on Thursdays. Afternoon rest periods usually last two hours. In fact, there’s no way I’ll make it to 2:30 before I need a nap today.

Rigid adherence to the schedule is counterproductive, but I hope to achieve some balance in my days. We’ll see how it goes.

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Make More Time for Yourself

So many headache sufferers overflow with guilt — their houses are messy, their kids don’t eat decent dinners, friends and family can’t depend on them, and so on. Making taking care of yourself a priority is tough with all this self-reproach. But doing so is absolutely necessary with an illness that can be exacerbated by stress.

Taking time for yourself will you feel better emotionally and, quite likely, physically. Symptoms often ease up the better you sleep, eat and laugh. This, in turn, frees you to do more of what you want to do, like playing with your kids or spending time with friends.

Taking care of yourself is hard to learn how to do, especially for women. Jenni from ChronicBabe shares 10 tips to make life a little easier — tricks that are helpful for women and men alike.

I’m as guilty as the next person of shorting myself, so I’m trying some of Jenni’s tips. My favorite so far is the kitchen timer trick. I will dedicate some “me time” this afternoon to getting my free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone.

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Getting Back to E-mail & Comments

Thanks to all who have e-mailed me or posted comments recently. I appreciate hearing from you, but won’t be able to reply to messages until Wednesday. Fortunately, it’s not because my headaches are too bad, but because I’ve got so much going on and need to conserve my energy when I have down time. I actually feel pretty good. Napping in the afternoons seems to have helped.