Sunday, 22 September 2013

When in Pain, Distract the Brain

Distraction is a massive part of my migraine experience.

When I'm in the unrelenting, agonising pain, the only thing which prevents me from going completely crazy is distraction.  Without distraction, the whole world is pain and every second feels like an hour.

The only way I've managed to find to cope with the pain, when I'm waiting for my meds to kick in or when the meds have failed me, is to distract my mind as much as possible.  As much as possible in this case, is still pretty limiting.

If I'm not being too affected by light, then I put the tv on and watch something which requires very little brainpower, like Hollyoaks or Charmed.  As long as it's entertaining enough to distract me but doesn't need to to think about what I'm seeing then it's good enough.

If the light is a problem, or when the pain wakes me in the night and I need to try and sleep as soon as possible to escape the pain and allow the meds to work, I have a different tactic.  This tactic has been greatly improved by a recently purchase as well.

In those times, I put on an audiobook of a book I've read before.  This means that the story distracts me but I don't have to concentrate on it as I know what happens.  I have devices loaded with audiobooks of books I've heard before right next to the bed at all times.
The problem I was having though, was that my big headphones only allow me to lie on my back to use, and since I'm normally trying to relieve the pain my pressing half my face into the edge of the pillow and I'm squirming around then they don't really work and in ear headphones just fall out of my ears.  But now I finally have a great solution to my headphones problem, now I've bought myself some SleepPhones.

SleepPhones are headphones which are inside a fleecy headband.  I wondered before I got them whether they would be as comfortable as they looked and whether the sound quality would be good enough to listen to audiobooks and I'm very happy on both counts.  They are my new migraine distraction saviour.

My mind has turned to the issue of distractions today as I have an appointment at the hospital for my eye problem tomorrow afternoon and last time I had an appointment there I was mid-migraine.  The drops they use to dilate my pupils dilates my vision for 4-6 hours afterwards and I remember vividly the last time how much I needed the distraction.  I was lucky enough for a friend to accompany me and talking with her during all the waiting really helped with distracting me when I was there but as soon as I got home and I didn't have a distraction without my vision, I was just in tears as the pain was taking over everything and I couldn't think through it or beyond it.  This time, I'll make sure an audiobook and my SleepPhones are set up ready so that as soon as I get back they'll be there in case I get struck by migraine again this time.

I really feel for the migraine sufferers who are so sensitive to sound during a migraine that they can only bear a whisper, as they won't have the audiobook option I know that I can always use and the pain just feels like it's ten times worse when there's nothing but the pain filling my head.

I'd be interested to know what other migraine sufferers use as distraction techniques whilst they have a migraine.  Please let me know in the comments!


  1. And if you want some of your own SleepPhones, they're on offer for £19.99 inc delivery now!

  2. You can also get pillows with built in speakers that you can plug your ipod into.

    I can't bear light or sound when I've got a migraine, I certainly couldn't watch TV or listen to an audio-book. I can barely bear to open my eyes and when the paralysis sets in, I can't even move so there's no chance of distraction with me.

    1. It's exactly that which makes me feel lucky with my migraines - people like you who are unable to have a distraction when in the agony of migraine have it exponentially harder and you have my deepest sympathies!

      I'd seen the pillows before but as I'm squirming around in pain then I'd either not be able to hear the audiobook or it would be so loud that it'd disturb my husband so I've never tried those

  3. by the way, did you know you've got word verification on? it's very hard to read, 100 times harder when you have a near constant headache...

    1. It had never occurred to me that the codes would be causing that problem - goes to show how bad I am at thinking of others even when they have the same problem I have! *turns off word verification*

  4. Hey I have a quick question about your blog, could you email me when you have a chance? Thanks! -Cam

  5. Hi Daisy,

    I read about you in Take A Break. I was interested because I have suffered terrible migraines for the past 2 1/2 yrs and have just lost my job because of. Mine have been described as Hemicrania Continua (Cluster Migraines).
    Any chance of chatting with you about my experiences via email?
    Thanks very much - Kevin