Put It On Your List

Without a doubt, a migraine lowers your IQ by several dozen points (Exceptions are the extraordinary people for whom pain is a motivator!).

Repeated migraines act like a meat tenderizer to your head – it seems when the current migraine begins, it’s worse than the last!

With a brain at half-mast, how can you be expected to remember what countermeasures to relieve the throbbing pain that has shoved your intellect to the side?

There’s a saying in French that memory is the faculty that forgets. So, during lucid, migraine-free moments, begin drawing up a list of every:

  • activity
  • pain relief method
  • therapy that has brought relief – even a little – in the past
  • what you enjoy that has nothing to do with pain relief, but that brings you pleasure.

Stream of consciousness… write them all down as the thoughts occur to you – you’ll have time to organize them later once you’ve completed the list.

What happens when you have a migraine? If you have been wise enough to get a proper diagnosis from a medical doctor and perhaps get some kind of medication, that’s usually the first pain relief method you take. If it still hurts, then you seek relief some other way.

Typically, there’s still not enough relief for you to feel happy. Then, you try one thing after another until you run out of ideas. Typically, there’s still not enough relief for you to feel happy.

Your brain is not functioning optimally. How can it? Your head is throbbing, and your stomach is nauseous (at best), or heaving. You are too distracted to think. Even thinking is too much of an effort!

Now’s the time to bring out your list. Mine was pages long, single-spaced, typed. I had it as a chart, with all the pain relief methods listed on the left, top to bottom, and a grid to the right. I’d place a tick mark next to a method that appealed to me the most at that moment, that was the most feasible.

If that did not work, I’d read down the list, choose the next most appealing method, and place a tick mark there. Your head is straining enough in dealing with the migraine – you don’t want to strain your memory banks on top of everything else.

What was on my list? From the simple and inexpensive to the complex and costly. Reminders to:

  1. Take a warm shower. Neither hot nor cold. (Both extremes in temperatures excite the nervous system. The latter is already excited enough.)
  2. Do breathing exercises. (When you gasp due to another wave of pain, you forget to return to a regular, more rhythmic breathing pattern.)
  3. Schedule a massage.
  4. Take an herbal tea.
  5. Call a sympathetic friend for emotional support.
  6. Pet the dog, stroke the cat, or say something nice to the bird.

When you go down the list, and some simple idea surprises you, you realize how dim your intellect can become during a migraine attack. The term “debilitating” applies. 100%. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, debilitating is ‘making someone (…) weak.’

When do you stop going down your list? When everything you have tried results in pain relief, or if nothing works (there are days like that), then you fall into an exhausted sleep, during which either the medication or the passage of time will work their magic.

While reading down that list of pleasant or pain-relieving methods, I wonder if its review triggers your brain to begin remembering all the pleasant sensations these activities have caused you to feel physically, and your brain starts to generate all those positive, pain killing hormones.

The reading becomes a self-hypnosis. No matter the analysis, the goal is to clear your head. Pronto. 


  • Carla Piringer

    Related to noted medical professionals, afflicted with an inherited excruciating migraine condition, the author followed traditional medical and alternative therapies, now living migraine-free for over 35 years. She now shares her doctor-recommended method in her book to inspire sufferers to find significant pain relief.

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