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Summertime is a fun time of year and one most of us look forward to because their are barbecues that bring families together more than any other time of year. Some people struggle more in winter than they do in summer but because we don’t really have a winter in Florida I don’t really struggle that much and my most troubles are during summer. I actually look forward to cooler weather because the sweltering heat has such a negative impact on my pain and I can’t wait until it gets cooler. I don’t even care about being cold during the winter because when you have less pain that will be the last thing you are thinking about. The summer heat is not a friend to some migraineurs making some of us miserable all summer long so if you struggling right now here are some tips to help you cope until the weather starts to get cool again!
Stay hydrated– People often wonder why they have this terrible migraine and then when you ask them when was the last time they had some water they don’t know. If you can’t remember the last time you drank water your probably not drinking enough and maybe even dehydrated so drink up! Dehydration is a major trigger for migraines and headaches so if you do just one thing in this post let it be to drink more water. Drinking coffee or soda all does not count towards your water consumption because these are not substitutes and your body needs actual water! If you have trouble remembering there are so many things you can do to help remind yourself that there are no excuses to forget or at least not try. Try setting an alarm every couple of hours, filling up a big water bottle, or downloading a water app to your phone if you can never remember. I downloaded a water app to my phone a couple of months ago and had it for a while until it became automatic so now I never forget.
Use peppermint oil regularly- I love peppermint oil because it is so beneficial for your health and there are a lot of uses for it. Peppermint oil can help prevent headaches but if you want to get that benefit you have to use it regularly. If you wait until you have a severe migraine attack it may give you some relief but chances are it won’t be anything fantastic because at that point it’s too late. Peppermint oil is not a cure and needs to be used as a preventative to help you have less headaches but is not a cure for when you have a really bad one.
Stay cool- When I go to sleep I always have my fan on full blast even if it’s kind of chilly or I am not that hot when I go to bed. Some people think this is a little bit strange because they don’t understand why I do it. I don’t do this because I like being cold but to lessen the likelihood of waking up in a panic from a migraine. If you struggle to stay cool during the day during summer swimming and water parks are great activities to help you cool off. Sitting inside in the air conditioning watching Netflix is great but sometimes it’s nice to do something different and water activities are great for that because they aren’t usually triggering.
Get a massage– I don’t let anyone who does not have knowledge of Hydrocephalus give me a massage because I have shunt tubing in my neck and if you don’t know what you’re doing you could seriously hurt me. I don’t want family members without proper training giving me a neck massage because I am that sensitive. There are very few people that I will let give me a neck massage and my occupational therapist happens to be one of them because she is knowledgeable in Hydrocephalus and has known me for a long time so I trust her. Before I had surgery my occupational therapist started to give me a shoulder and jaw massage because that is where my migraines start and mine started to worsen almost to the point it was affecting my daily activities. I didn’t think it was going to help that much but to my surprise, it relieved a lot of tension and help a lot. I was stretching regularly but because I walk with crutches I get tight quicker than the average person which was becoming problematic and triggering pain. Right now I am doing a lot of hip rehab and am not doing any massages because that would be a lot of therapy so to manage my pain I do more self-massage. It’s the same as when my occupational therapist does but it’s better than nothing at all.
Eat regularly- When you have chronic pain I can’t stress enough how important a regular meal schedule is. I know we get busy and sometimes you may not have time to sit and have a gourmet meal and that is okay but you need to plan for business because lack of self-care will catch up to you. I used to be that person whoskipped both breakfast and lunch until I started having pain and I couldn’t do that anymore without severe consequences. I know it’s hard but you need to try and not skip meals because it will hugely affect your pain and everyone has time to make a sandwich! If it’s too painful to do even that ask for help because people usually are more than willing to lend a hand and won’t let you starve!
I love winter and look forward to the cooler weather because in Florida we don’t have much of a winter and it’s quite nice here which is great for keeping pain levels low. Obviously, I still have days in the winter where the pain is high but it’s not near as many as when it’s scorching hot. I don’t even like to go outside during the summer times for a short period of time not because I hate the beach but I am so massively affected by the heat that I feel it right away! In the winter when it’s thirty degrees out and I am covered in ten blankets and still can’t get warm I don’t even care because I would rather be cold than in pain! During the winter when it is that cold I kind of hate it but then I remember how I am not in that much pain so I don’t hate it as much as most people do. What season do you struggle with pain the most and how do you cope?