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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.

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Trying to Find My New “Home”

Home is where I want to be when I have a migraine. Being nearly housebound since I moved to Boston in August, you’d think I’d be all set. Except that “home” is far more metaphorical than literal. In Seattle, my home was on the couch in front of the fire. Even if my apartment here had a fireplace, it wouldn’t be the same. Home is an emotional place, an emotional state. One that is found by feeling it. One I haven’t found since moving to Boston, not in my apartment or in the city.

Driving from the airport into Seattle the first time Hart and I visited, I knew I’d found my home. In fact, when I was 13 and first visited the Pacific Northwest, it felt like home even though I wasn’t aware of what that meant. Now I’m 3,000 miles away and I feel the distance acutely. I know Boston is a great city and there’s a ton to see and do in the Northeast. Enough friends of friends are here that I’m confident we can build a great social circle. The move isn’t intended to be permanent. All this logic doesn’t erase the ache for Seattle and the forests of the northwest.

Hart and I went back at Thanksgiving. The first morning, we went mushroom hunting. My heart sang as we drove through the city, seeing the water and evergreens. The ferns, the moss and the drizzle in the forest felt so good that I turned my face to the sky to soak it in. Then a severe migraine hit on the drive back to our friends’ place. The subsequent migraines were so bad that, except for a massage appointment, I didn’t leave their house until we went to the airport, 10 days after our intended departure. I have to wonder if not wanting to leave my beloved city was the primary migraine trigger.

Over the last month, the migraines have improved steadily. I even went to Hart’s work’s holiday party Tuesday night and had a great, low-pain time. I also met a lot of new people, all of whom were curious about Seattle. Talking about my city was soothing yet heartrending. The next day, I stumbled upon The Place I Love: Songs About Longing, written by someone from Portland who recently moved to New York. Listening to the songs she shared was another bittersweet comfort.

Seattle from Kerry ParkSeattle’s lakes and trees and cranes and Space Needle fill my soul. Even when I didn’t leave the house, the glimpses out the windows cheered me. I didn’t realize how much the city carried me as I struggled with an ever-worsening chronic illness. Moving to Boston was the right choice for Hart and me and I want to make it home while we’re here. But how do I find my place in a city that doesn’t nurture me?

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Why, Hello There!

Along with the Seattle sunshine, I’m rejoining the world after a long hibernation. It was another terrible spring for nausea, but my migraines and headaches have been relatively mild. (More on that in a moment.) Whenever I have felt decent, I’ve been getting ready to sell our house and move to Boston.

That’s right, we’re moving to Boston in August! Hart was offered a job he couldn’t refuse. As much as I love Seattle, I’m excited for an adventure. I’m also terrified, but isn’t that a part of every adventure?

I hope better health and more time to write will coincide with the move. Although a change of location is unlikely to spur the change, birth control pills might. My migraines and headaches reduced in frequency and severity after I had taken birth control pills for three months. Unfortunately, they also caused horrendous nausea.

I’ve spent the last few months drugged up and conked out. Deciding I was better equipped to handle head pain than nausea, I stopped the pills last week. Sure enough, the nausea is gone, but head pain and general wooziness are back. I’m seeing a gynecologist tomorrow to determine what to try next. I imagine it will be a brand with different synthetic hormones. I hope I won’t have to wait another three months for them to take effect.

So, that’s what’s been going on in my life. I hope you have been doing as well as possible!