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Tips for Summer Fun Despite Migraine: Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge

National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge, Day 4: What’s the best tip you can offer others for having some summer fun despite migraine?

I wrote about staying hydrated, my very best tip for coping with migraines in the summer, for Migraine.com today. Then I went out in the Phoenix heat and remembered my second-best coping mechanism: ice packs and cool neck wraps.

If I have to drive somewhere in the heat of the day, I take along hard ice packs that normally go in the ice chest as well as a couple softer ice packs, like my beloved Medi-Temp Head-Neck Hot/Cold Therapy Pad*. I wrap the Medi-Temp pad around my neck twice and place the other ice packs wherever feels good, usually a couple behind my back, one in my cleavage (*blush*), and one under the seat belt against my belly. I look like a complete dork, but feel so much cooler. The hard packs usually stay cold even if I leave them in the car when I go into stores. On particularly hot days, I’ll put them in a soft-sided cooler before I get out of the car.

Cooling neck wraps are useful when I’m need to stay cool (temperature-wise) in public. More attractive than an ice pack, they still aren’t terribly stylish — but they are better than a migraine attack! Just soak one in water for about 10 minutes to activate it and it will keep you a little cooler for several hours. If you’re somewhere humid, it is best best if you can stick the wrap in an ice chest occasionally to reinvigorate it.

What do you do to keep migraine attacks at bay in the summer?

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.

*The Medi-Temp head wrap is a new discovery and I love, love, love it for migraine attacks. It has good coverage, stays cold for nearly an hour (I put a dish towel under it so it isn’t too cold against my skin), and stays in place when I move around. It is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to relieve the immediate pain of a migraine. I only wish I had two.

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Good Stuff From ChronicBabe

ChronicBabe is always an awesome site; recently it’s been overflowing with terrific articles and links.

Illness and Empathy for Others
In her latest contribution to ChronicBabe, Laurie Edwards (whose articles I love) describes how her illness influences her interactions with loved ones when they have a passing illness — both positively and negatively.

Work and Illness
Lily Thomas, who has CDH and migraine, writes about working with people who don’t really understand what your illness is like. And her experience sorting it out when her boss was the one who didn’t understand.

Emotions in Patient-Doctor Communication
“Emotional patients” have trouble remembering what their doctors tell them, according to findings of a recent study. The “emotional” participants in the study latched onto frightening or worrying information.

Keeping Cool
Heat and dehydration are big headache triggers. ChronicBabe gave this link for ways to cool off.

Acceptance
In an essay on NPR‘s This I Believe, Kay Redfield Jamison writes about accepting the role of bipolar disorder in her life: “It is not a gentle or easy disease. And, yet, from it I have come to see how important a certain restlessness and discontent can be in one’s life; how important the jagged edges and pain can be in determining the course and force of one’s life.”

Invisible Chronic Illness
Next week is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. During the week, people who live with invisible illnesses are encouraged to educate the “general public, churches, healthcare professionals and government officials” about the frustrations of having an illness that others can’t see.

Thanks to Jenni and all ChronicBabe contributors for sharing coping strategies and great resources.

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Hot

I have a couple strict rules for myself: 1) Don’t go to Whole Foods, Target or Trader Joe’s after 10 a.m. on Fridays. 2) Don’t run errands if the temperature is higher than 85 degrees. Not only did I break both rules on Friday, when the high was 95 degrees, I went to Whole Foods, Target and Trader Joe’s.

I was hot, my head hurt and I was grumpy. By the time I got home, I was really, really hot; really, really annoyed; and had a really, really bad headache that was probably triggered by the heat. So what did I do? I cleaned the house and worked on my computer (in the hottest room in the house). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Once I descended into the blissful cool of the basement, I realized just how counterproductive it was to push myself. (OK, I’ve realized this a thousand times already, but it’s a revelation every time.) I had made myself feel worse than when I started and I had no energy for the rest of the day. The sofa in our musty unfinished basement became my friend and I watched baseball on my laptop. All the while stressed because I had to pack to go to my sister’s house the next day.

There’s really no point in continuing the story. I got hot and overdid it on Friday and again on Saturday. I would have done the same on Sunday, but Hart and I hung out in my sister’s air conditioned house while she and her family were at a pool party.

My sister apologized repeatedly for not entertaining us. We were actually perfectly happy — we got to lie around and didn’t think about the housework we weren’t doing because we were three hours from home. And it reminded me again of the lesson I should have learned by now. Don’t push it. It always backfires. Always.