A couple of weeks ago, it came time for me to “practice what I preach” about Migraine management, organization, and travel. It was a spectacular opportunity for a trip combining a bit of business with a cruise to the Bahamas.
A “normal” person would probably have jumped at the chance, but nobody has ever accused me of being “normal.” There are the hours I work, the fact that I don’t know how to say, “No,” when something needs done, and much more to take into consideration. One of the considerations is - Who can live a “normal” life when dealing with Migraines that have gone from chronic to episodic and back again - repeatedly? Still, when all had been considered, I decided to go.
Here’s where practicing what I preach comes into play. To have the best trip possible, it was time to pay attention to the tips and suggestions I’ve given and make them work for myself. The question the trip would answer was - Can I take those tips and suggestions, utilize them, and enjoy the seven-day cruise and the two extra days to get to and from the port, despite the fact that I’m still averaging about two Migraine attacks a week? I also needed to remember that motion sickness can be a major problem.
To tackle this, I started a list of what I needed to do to prepare, what I needed to be sure to take with me, and my goals and expectations for the cruise.
Here’s part of my to-do list:
- Make a list of all of my all of my prescription medications, supplements, and over-the-counter medications and comfort measures I need to have.
- Check that list to be sure I had enough and get anything I was short on.
- Check with my doctor about what would be best for motion sickness and get it.
- Get fragrance-free sunscreen products that wouldn’t trigger a Migraine.
- Make a list of absolutely everything I needed or wanted to take.
- Apply for a passport.
There was more, but those were the major items. Since I had an appointment with my Migraine specialist, I asked him about motion sickness. We decided that scopolamine patches were my best bet, and he emailed a prescription to my pharmacy.
My goals and expectations:* ** Take a real vacation**.Since I haven’t had a true vacation for years, and things have been more than busy this year, the vacation part of the trip was important. We all need down time to rest, heal, and revive, but I hadn’t been taking any. So goal number one was to really take some time off. There were two major challenges I decided I had to meet to accomplish that goal: * Stay away from the Internet and email. Oh, boy! Some people were challenging me to bets on this because they didn’t believe I could do it. Ha! I did it. I took a laptop with me, but I only used it to look at the photographs I had taken. I was offline for nine whole days, and I survived! * Stay away from phones. I did very well on this count too. Every evening, I called home to check in and set the alarm clock on my iPhone for the next morning. When I got up in the morning, I locked my phone in the safe in my stateroom. I checked my voice mail only to be sure not to miss any family emergencies. Since none of the voice mail I received fell into this category, I just saved it to deal with when I got home.
- Enjoy the shore excursions without triggering Migraines. This was one I realized could be challenging since bright sun and high temperatures are potential triggers for me. (See _Tips for Avoiding Summer Migraines and Headaches _.) These things helped:
- Enjoy the days at sea. There were four days of sailing with no stops in ports, and there were many choices for how to spend time those days.
The results:* ** Only two Migraines in nine days.** Botox has reduced the frequency of my Migraines to an average of two per week. Two in nine days means that my frequency was not increased during the trip. I attribute that to being hyperaware of my potential triggers and good preparation for the trip.
- Zolmitriptan worked. For both of those Migraines, one dose of zolmitriptan (Zomig) aborted the Migraine and left me with minimal postdrome. Yay! The nausea that so often accompanies my Migraines was very mild with these two, probably because of the Scopolamine patches I was using for motion sickness. Yay again!
- New experiences! * When we were in port in Nassau, I went** snorkeling** for the first time ever and was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy it. Can’t wait to do it again!
- Ocean travel on a ship was a new experience too. Since the patches kept me from getting seasick, it was a truly enjoyable way to travel - like traveling in a hotel with great service. Cruises are far more affordable than I ever dreamed. I couldn’t even have paid for a hotel for seven nights for the cost of the cruise, let alone transportation, meals, and entertainment. For about $100 per night, the cruise cost included everything except alcohol and soft drinks.
For your enjoyment, here are some photos from the cruise:
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© Teri Robert, 2013, including photos. All rights reserved.
Last updated September 23, 2013.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.