Patient Blogs | Migraine
Weathering the Midwest Storms as a Migraine Warrior
photo of woman holding umbrella in field

I was born and raised a Kansan. My parents taught me about weather awareness at an early age. Living in Tornado Alley requires a few safety precautions to boost one’s confidence and chances of surviving the wrath of nature.

We know the rules by heart. Keep an eye on the sky when conditions are favorable for bad weather. Seek shelter underground or in the center of the house. If you’re caught outside in a tornado, get out of the car, and lie in a ditch.

Of course, curiosity and adrenaline often provide exceptions to safety rules. We’re only human, as witnessed by the number of cell phone videos of the most recent tornadic event to touch down in the area.

Since I get weather-related migraines, I have additional rules to follow when storm fronts are in the forecast. There’s no way I can avoid this migraine trigger, but I can take precautions to minimize the effects.

I’ve read that the weather episode spark has something to do with the body’s reaction to changes in barometric pressure and humidity. Not being a meteorologist, I don’t have specific information about the science behind this migraine trigger. Some weather systems will set me off and some won’t. All I know for certain is that I must be aware of the weather.

I’m lucky that I don’t usually have migraine episodes multiple days in a row unless we’re in a stormy weather pattern. When the weather report indicates wave after wave of storm fronts, the first thing I do is double-check my medicine supply. Medicine is the best defense I have against most of my migraine episodes, but especially weather-related ones.

For other triggers, I can adjust my activities and avoid exposure. I can walk on the shady side of the street to protect my eyes from the sunny glare of flashing lights. I can hold my breath as I pass through secondhand smoke left behind by an inconsiderate smoker. I can say no to eating triggering foods.

For changes in barometric pressure and humidity, there’s little I can do except deal with the conditions as they drift into my environment. Fate controls the wheel when it comes to weather. The best I can do is pay extra attention to limiting my exposure to my other known triggers to at least avoid the possibility of stacking.

Proper planning means I’m either prepared for what hits me or pleasantly surprised when the storm passes with no consequence to my life. Sometimes I must share the power of migraine management with fate, no matter how diligent I am about following the rules of living with my illness.

Despite the potential effects of a Kansas storm system, I love a good thunderstorm. I’m in awe of the illuminating beauty of lightning veining across the sky, the rumbles of thunder rattling the earth, and the waves of wind-driven rain traveling across my view from the living room window.

I know. The rules say I shouldn’t be standing by a window during a storm. What can I say? I was a Kansan before I was a migraine warrior. Even though the tornado siren sounds extra loud to my migraine ears, I’ll take my medicine and keep living. I’ll let curiosity and adrenaline lead me out to the front yard to stand alongside my neighbors, searching for a glimpse of a funnel cloud.

I guess I’m too stubborn to let go of the wheel and let fate steer my life completely. Finding a balance between safety and experiencing the wonders of the world is difficult when it comes to managing a weather migraine, but not impossible. Situational awareness, proper planning, and a determined attitude help me weather the storms.


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Photo Credit: PBNJ Productions / Tetra images via Getty Images

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Tammy Hader

Tammy Hader

Diagnosed since 1986

Tammy Hader has been a migraine warrior for over 5 decades. A staunch proponent of migraine management, she has developed the knowledge base to help her navigate relationships, an accounting career, and many lifecycle changes. Hader lives with her husband and cat in southcentral Kansas and enjoys writing, cooking, hiking, and football season. Follow her on Twitter, Medium and Bizcatalyst360.

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