The Migraine Summer Camp Survival Guide
Parenting kids who have Migraine presents some unique challenges. As a teen, my son spent many weeks at summer camp. One summer, an incident occurred that brought out the Migraine mama bear in me. He experienced a Migraine attack that did not respond to his usual abortive. That’s when he informed the adult in charge that he needed to lie down with an ice pack to sleep it off. The adult’s response was inappropriate and dangerous. He told my son, “You just need to take about 10 Excedrin and knock that headache out.”
I was livid. I confronted the adult and then reported the incident to the camp director and the main office of the sponsoring organization. Nobody messes with my kid’s health.
To reduce the risk of such incidents, it’s important to prepare your child and educate the responsible adults.
1. Create a Migraine kit
Work with your child to create a kit full of comfort items needed during an attack. The camp will likely require prescription medications to be held in a secure location. That doesn’t stop your child from having easy access to ice packs, a sleep mask, dark sunglasses, ear plugs, or a vial of peppermint oil to ease the discomfort of an attack. Encourage your child to seek help to use the prescribed acute medication at the first sign of an attack.
2. Send instructions
It’s a good idea to send written instructions attached to the health forms that accompany the application. Create a Migraine response protocol and have your child’s doctor sign off on it. The physician’s signature will carry more weight and force the camp staff to take it more seriously. Include the following:
- List of medications with dosing instructions
- Name and phone number of your child’s Migraine specialist
- Description of the actions needed to help your child recover, such as lying down in a cool, dark room, the use of ice packs, sips of ginger ale for nausea, etc.
- Instructions on what to do if the attack does not respond to treatment. Include the use of rescue treatments, reasons to call home, and when to seek emergency treatment.
3. Call ahead
Ask to speak with the camp director, nurse, or medic. There’s nothing better than a live conversation to help people understand each other. By making that personal introduction, your child now becomes more than just a name on a list.
With a little extra planning, Migraine need not prevent your child from enjoying the summer camp experience.
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