Triggers play a huge role in the life of a migraine warrior. We spend countless days searching for clues to uncover the secret behind what’s causing us pain and suffering. We work hard to decipher the cause and effect we find buried in the activities of our day-to-day lives.
Over time, the discovery of our own individual triggers creates a treasure map to help us navigate managing our incurable illnesses. Sometimes we reach the spot on the map where we are happy people living a pain-free day. The blessing of a normal day is well worth the effort put forth and the sacrifices made.
As in any good adventure story, there are pitfalls. There are unexpected elements that we’re unable to avoid no matter the level of our diligence and determination. There are triggers beyond the grasp of our control. Three uncontrollable triggers come to mind.
I live in Kansas. Here's a brief rundown for those unfamiliar with a midwestern climate: Kansas has all four seasons, complete with thunderstorms, tornadoes, rain showers, sunshine, humidity, snowfall, blizzards, crisp autumn air, along with wind, wind, and more wind.
Temperatures range from frigid to blast furnace, and the barometric pressure is a roller-coaster ride. It’s not uncommon for Kansas to experience two or three seasons in as many consecutive days. When the barometric conditions are taking humidity for a ride up and down and all around, I’m more likely to have several days of migraine episodes.
And there’s not a darn thing I can do about it.
Sometimes Mother Nature calls the shots and the best I can do is defend myself with the weapons I have. I take my abortive medication as early as possible and become extra diligent at avoiding exposure to the triggers I can control.
As frustrating as the weather can be, I know the ride will come to an end. The seasons always change. Endurance is rewarded with the dawning of a new day.
Along with the weather, hormones are also a trigger often out of our control. My episode frequency was in sync with my menstrual cycle for decades. The hormonal rites of passage throughout my life have been marked by corresponding changes in my migraine behavior.
Puberty saw an uptick in frequency, followed by a mellowing of episodes in my 30s. As menopause approached, episodes became more frequent again. On the other side of menopause, my migraines seem less likely to be affected by hormones.
The circle of life is full of twists and turns like that, and migraine illness is part of that journey. Some migraine triggers are out of my control, but I must at least try to account for those triggers in my migraine management plan.
There’s a migraine trigger that I find even more frustrating and difficult to deal with than weather or hormones: People.
Nothing is more frustrating than living with pain and losing valuable time from my life because of inconsiderate, selfish behavior carried out by a fellow human being. I don’t expect people to deprive themselves of all the things they enjoy on behalf of the health of migraine warriors, but a little consideration and compromise would be refreshing.
Maybe if those who don’t have migraine episodes could tone down the perfumes and scented oils. Don’t give the gift of a scented candle to someone whose health is sensitive to such things.
Don’t allow your cigarette smoke to blow into a space filled with people. In addition to the long-term effects of secondhand smoke, the toxins can also have short-term effects on people with allergies, asthma, and migraines.
I can’t control the impact you have on those around you; only you can do that. A little thoughtfulness would go a long way to helping a migraine warrior fight the battle against attacks. As determined as I am to control my triggers on my own, I can always use a little help from a friend.
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