We all know how difficult holidays can be with migraines, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Migraine and other headache disorders wreak havoc with relationships, often causing us to not be able to spend enough time with and do things with the people whom we love and about whom we care.
This insidious disease has caused both migraineurs and the loved ones in their lives to feel guilty, frustrated, and even angry. One husband said to me,
“What am I supposed to do? It seems like any gift I buy or event I plan ends up making things worse. I just don’t know how to do this any more.”
One migraineur said,
“On top of being so ill, I feel so guilty. I don’t know how to be a wife and mother with these migraines. I want to do things with my family, but if I try to push through things with a migraine, I just end up being sick and out of commission longer.”
Since you’re reading this, I’d be willing to bet that you understand all too well what the husband and the migraineur said. I feel like those statements are the story of too much of my life. Something I’ve learned during 50+ years of living with migraines is that, with a bit of creativity, we don’t have to give us as much as we might think. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, here are some tips and suggestions for celebrating Valentine’s Day with your loved ones:
Candy is an ever popular Valentine’s Day gift. This can be a problem if you tend to buy a gorgeous box of chocolates, but chocolate is a migraine trigger for the person for whom you’re buying them. Here’s a creative work-around for you: Find a pretty gift box or gift bag and fill it with other types of candies. Use your imagination. There are lots of good candies that aren’t chocolate.
Flowers are another popular Valentine’s Day gift, but the smell of flowers is another possible migraine trigger. Guess what? You can still give flowers. Just find a good florist and work with them to give flowers with no fragrance. Last year, I was nearly overwhelmed with the kindness of someone who wanted to send flowers to me at a conference and was thoughtful enough to find flowers with no fragrance. When I walked into my hotel room, I found a gorgeous arrangement of purple and white tulips. They brought me a great deal of joy - with no migraine!
Perfumes, fragranced bath and body products, and scented candles rank high on the list of possible Valentine’s Day gifts. And, you guessed it! They can be strong migraine triggers. These gifts are best avoided unless you know they’re not a trigger for the recipient. Better yet, avoid them unless you know of specific scents and products that your valentine can use without triggering a migraine.
Considering a movie night? It’s doable with planning and creativity. The first thing to determine is whether you’re going to go out to a movie theater or have your movie night at home. If you’re thinking of going to a movie theater, think for a few minutes about the particular theater and of odors and fragrances; a stuffy, overly warm room; loud crowds or a loud movie soundtrack; or strobe or flickering lighting could be a problem with either the theater itself or the movie you’re considering. If any of those are possible problems, consider a quiet night of movies at home. Movie night at home can be as much fun as going out to the theater, sometimes more!
How about a romantic dinner? That too is doable with planning and creativity. If you know your valentine well enough to know if he or she has migraine food triggers, you might be able to pull this one off as a surprise. If you aren’t sure about food triggers, it’s best to plan this one with your valentine. If you’re trying to decide between dining in or out, refer to the possible triggers pointed out above for a movie night. Despite fragrances being a trigger, you can most likely have dinner by candlelight just use unscented candles.
What about some babysitting? Do you know a couple with children who could use a quiet Valentine’s Day celebration? Maybe you or one of your children could babysit for them so they can have time to celebrate. If they have a somewhat flexible schedule, you could offer to take their children for the afternoon and still have the evening to celebrate with your valentine.
Do you have tips or suggestions for celebrating Valentine’s Day with migraines? Do you have a situation that you’d like some tips or suggestions about from other migraineurs?
Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day,
_Please join us for the 2015 AHMA Patient Conference on June 21, 2015. _
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+.