I am a migraineur — the medically accurate, strangely fancy word for someone who spends much of their lives whimpering under a duvet in a blacked-out room. Typically, my migraines are controlled by medication: If I swallow a pill when my vision starts to swim, I’m able to return to normal activities some two hours later, albeit a bit feebly. But migraines are shape-shifters, with a disconcerting tendency to change and evolve over time. And this year, mine changed for the worse. I was struck with a migraine that lasted months, one that nothing in my migraineur toolbox (a full toolbox, by the way! Injectables and anti-nausea pills and vitamins, and a futuristic electrode device that attaches to your forehead) would break.
When you’ve had a headache for some 40 days straight and nothing is helping, it’s important to find tricks to temper the pain. Sometimes hot feels good, and sometimes cold does — for the first month of this particular headache, my boyfriend was stuck boiling and reboiling (and re-reboiling) water to keep a washcloth for my forehead hot enough that the searing heat temporarily replaced the searing pain. In the end, some internet research left me with a couple of products that gave me unexpected temporary relief — and didn’t require a dizzying back and forth to the stove.
Ice packs can help ease a headache: the more blindingly cold, the better. But your average pack is stiff and rectangular, unable to contour to the side of your head or the back of your neck. I thought a bag of frozen peas might work as a flexible alternative — until they melted into a greenish stream down the back of my shirt. This roller stays cold for hours; it has a handle, so your hand doesn’t freeze holding it to your forehead; and, as a fringe benefit, it claims to revitalize your face and reduce puffiness under your eyes.
Like Vicks VapoRub for your head, except that it smells really good. I am scent-sensitive during migraines, but found this — a mild mix of chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary — inoffensive and actually relaxing. The balm creates a tingly sensation that eases the pain — I used half the tin the first day I got it.
To create heat, I like this wrap, which stays hot longer than a boiled washcloth, and doesn’t require sitting on the floor near an outlet — other heating pads require plugging in.
There is a 24/7 club on my block, whose house music is difficult to tolerate, even without a throbbing headache. So I wisely took my colleague Lauren Schwartzberg’s advice and ordered a pair of earplugs, which let me sleep through both the pulse of my headache and the neighbor’s EDM.
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