Chronic Migraine, Coping, Triggers

The Trade Off: A Scheduled Migraine Day

I drove more than three hours to my sister’s house yesterday so I could surprise my nephew on his 10th birthday. I had to be home for plumbers this morning, so I could only stay for a few hours. Cramming nearly seven hours of driving, lots of caffeine and bad-for-me food into 13 hours ensured I’d be sick today. I went anyway.

After years of constantly overdoing it and constantly being sick, I learned I become terribly ill when I push myself too much. Now I know to hold back; sometimes I think too well. I’m stuck at home with migraines so often. There’s only so much time I can give up because one might come along.

Last year, a friend taught me that I don’t have to shirk anything that might make me sick — even if it is something that I’m absolutely positive will result in at least a day in bed. She showed me I can choose certain times to push myself without doing it every single day. The trick is knowing one day of indulgence can lead to one (or more) days of feeling awful.

When planning yesterday’s trip, I factored in today as a sick day. Other than letting the plumbers in, I made no appointments or plans. I stocked up on easy food and checked out a good audiobook. By intentionally making a trade off, I feel no guilt.

I know I should never feel guilty for being sick, but I rarely do what I should. Today I can see what a reprieve it is to just let myself be as I need to be.

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7 thoughts on “The Trade Off: A Scheduled Migraine Day”

  1. That’s me all over. I usually push myself pretty hard when I’m working to a tight timetable. The problem is that I know the trade off is going to mean that I’ll have to take a day of downtime because I’m pretty much guaranteed a throbbing migraine as a reward for working hard. Life eh?

  2. I do this allll the time, and not just for my headaches (which are now less, but migraines are more. Not a great trade-off).

    I make sure there is a cushion day before and after a “big day” if at all possible. I’ve also tried to get appts in the afternoon thanks to my nite owl ways lately.

    I don’t get as much done as I’d like sometimes, and I have to give up other things, but it works for us as a family.

  3. Glad to have found your blog. I have been on the daily headache/migraine journey for 18 years.

    I like “A Scheduled Migraine Day”. I also do this but didn’t have a name for it. Looking forward to reading more…

  4. Wow- timing! I just wrote about this issue, sort of – well, about whether we embrace or reject our physical limits when living w/ chronic pain – at my blog The Tramadol Diaries. (, most recent post, if you’re interested)

    This is a really interesting perspective on the whole issue of limiting beliefs and whether we live within them or ignore them — a conscious decision to trade off, as you put it so well. I’m going to have to think about that for my own life.

  5. kind of interesting, i have to live my life by the same thinking all the time. for excample, i was invited to a social gathering and also had something else to go to two days later. but i forwent the first event because i knew it would put me under and i would miss the second event. And that was the one i really didn’t want to miss. my life is all about planning and working around the (what if). i have had migraines for so long that now i have gotten real good at knowing what will make me sick and what my body and handle. i have also gotten better at saying no to things i know are not good for me, if that means going to certain places for eating certain foods. sorry i have to come first.

  6. Very good thinking. Kind of like a person who is on a strict diet but allowing themselves a day of indulgence so they don’t feel so suffocated. We still have lives and we have to live them, we just need to learn to do it a little differently than some other people do.

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