the thunder rolls…and the migraine strikes

photo credit hubby

photo credit hubby

don’t you love a storm? i mean, if you could be one of those people who does not get a migraine with changes in the barometric pressure. the crack of thunder followed by lightening and sheets of rain; those storms are hauntingly beautiful. and snow storms, the silent, white flakes encasing us in our own magical snow globe complete with snowball fights, warm beverages, and a soft fireside glow…

then there are the cold front migraines which are probably the most frustrating type for me. those perfect weather days when crystal blue skies and dry cool air push the humidity aside. the crisp air gives us a football season, fall, autumn leaves changing, sweater weather excitement. those are perfect days. and getting to enjoy them without a migraine has become rare event.

when i was younger i was able to enjoy storms. the years have passed and (sadly) the memories are hazy, but i know that there were romantic lightening storms, candle lit dinners after power failures. there were cozy fireside nights spent talking about nothing and everything while watching silent snow fall.  there were brilliant, chilly and energetic spontaneous day trips into the mountains just because it was too pretty to not be outside.

for so many years i was able to enjoy those. looking back, there were times when i did not feel quite right and a nap would get me back to normal so i could enjoy the weather along with my friends. but that freedom, the careless strolls into gorgeous or spooky scary weather seem to be gone and that, my dear, is a pain in more ways than one. talk about a party pooper! my dear hubby has to restrict his enjoyment of weather changes because his wife is in pain, real pain.

in my case, most often, the migraine comes 2 days before the weather front. occasionally it stops early enough that i can enjoy the change in my atmosphere.

recently, with the addition of petadolex to my daily dose of preventative medicine, the weather front migraines are less intense and they have changed slightly. i have noticed that the migraine 2 days before the storm seems to happen less frequently than it used to occur. these days, the pattern seems that i feel pain, migraine stabbing pain, about 10-30 minutes before thunder claps.

it is discouraging.

weather change induced migraines are relatively common which is why it is absolutely incredible that scientists and migraine specialists are still unable to determine exactly what happens to trigger weather related migraine.

theories include:

1. the change in barometric pressure causes oxygen flow to change, thus the blood vessels in our heads expand in attempt to get more oxygen. most migraineurs know all too well that the dilating of blood vessels typically lead to the spasms which trigger a migraine.

2. the level of electricity in the environment brings change in the electric behavior of our neurotransmitters.

3. some scientists theorize that weather front migraines are a way our bodies protect us; that dating back through history the many references to weather front migraines suggest that the migraines force us (humanity) to seek out safer settings (ie. going into a dark cave).

and there are other theories, many others, which are only further complicated by the certainty that every person’s migraine experience is unique. the reality that there are so many changing factors when it comes to weather related migraines is most likely the reason that after such extensive focus and study, experts really have no solid answer as to why it happens, but they will say that it does happen and to be prepared.

so, be prepared. ok. sounds simple enough. then again, some of  life’s biggest challenges, sound simple enough.

i have had friends who could escape a weather front migraine by simply popping ibuprofen with caffeine, and simple as that, their migraine averted. maybe i used to be one of those fortunate few? i really don’t know because the migraines have changed so many times over the years that it is hard to recall any specific way i was able to prevent one. some people can take an imitrex and move on. in my case, i cannot take the NSAIDS (ibuprofen, advil, etc) or aspirin because of my history of crohn’s. so i am limited to the tylenol options + the triptans.

these days, i usually drink caffeine + tylenol + imitrex + a nausea pill and can get through the storm without too much duress. i also do my best to lower the other triggers (no alcohol or dietary triggers, follow a sleep schedule, avoid bright lights and certainly avoid odors).

i understand that i have a diagnosis of chronic migraines so i cannot expect to be migraine free all the time. but it is my goal to raise my threshold, to be able to roll with the weather fronts and even sip on a glass of white wine while listening to thunder claps and sheets of rain. that is a goal for me. i want to enjoy weather fluctuations without pain. it’s a goal. i believe i will get there.

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