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A Sunday shoutout to what works. Migraine edition.

If you’re a creative, chances are pretty good that you get migraines. I don’t exactly understand the correlation; I just know from observation that it’s true. And it somehow consoles me when I’m lying in a dark room to think of this affliction as “special.” (Hey, any port in a storm.)

If you hire or manage or work with creatives, please know how horrible this affliction is.

I’ve been in the ER a handful of times because it can get that bad. My husband, who is a business owner, says he never understood it until he saw me experience it. I think every creative office should have a migraine room where you can lie down in total darkness if you’re suffering.

Their character has changed on and off, but I’ve had some form of migraines at least since the early 2000s, when I remember a four-day horror show set off by having a drink during the day at Fenway.

I’ve tested most of what’s out there to remedy these beasts, and it’s now rare that I get one that won’t go away when I handle it right. Here’s a summary of what’s non-surgical and might work for you.

Facial massage can help. (Also, this video @lauraiz is everything.)

  1. Take your Triptan. I’m starting with this one, because I’ve done a lot of reading about it recently and found out that I’m not alone in sometimes failing to take my Triptan as the doctor proscribed. Triptans can work if you catch the headache at the right time (mine are supposed to be taken before the pain sets in). We don’t take them for a variety of reasons, including the extreme fatigue they cause and the fact that insurance proscribes so few that we live in fear of wasting one on a tolerable headache and having nothing for an unlivable headache later in the month. But you have to remind yourself that taking a triptan can prevent the whole headache from coming. Walk through your fears and do it.
  2. Try spice. Capsaicin, found in spicy foods, has been shown to relieve migraine symptoms. For me, a super hot chili-based soup works best. It’s surprising, actually. Sometimes it near-instantly does the trick.
  3. Cry. Ok, it’s strange, but somehow the physical release of crying can help me dial down a migraine. (Having an orgasm can, too, because of the endorphin release. But it’s obviously a hell of a lot more challenging in your condition.)
  4. Eat salt. As long as you’re bawling in a dark room, have some chips. A migraine specialist recommended salty snacks as a remedy to me once, and sometimes it works really well. The last time I had one, I dipped foccacia bread in meyer lemon olive oil from The Olive Connection that I had loaded up with sea salt. (The calories don’t count when your’re medicating. Obviously.)
  5. Shower. It’s incredibly overwhelming to think about getting in the shower when you’re in bed in the throes of a migraine, but sometimes it’s the turning point for me. Make sure someone is home/nearby if you’re prone to dizziness. Turn the heat up as hot as you can bear.
  6. Ice it. After the shower, put on comfy sweats, including a hoodie with the hood up. And on top of the hoodie, layer on an Oversize Flexicold. This thing is a lifesaver. It’s a cold pack the size of a placemat, so it can hit every part of your head, shoulders, neck. This is often what gets me over the hump to where I can fall asleep. And there’s no mess (as opposed to when I was sleeping on a frozen butternut squash).
  7. Facial massage. I do it to myself or have it done whenever I can. Rub along the jowls, over your eyelids, in circular motions on the bone just below your eye, anytime/where it feels good, before/during/after migraine. This demo says it all. (And makes you want a toddler.)

And two things I want to try but haven’t … yet.

  1. Cefaly. This is a space-age looking device that you strap onto your head, and it’s supposed to prevent/lessen migraines via 20-minute neurostimulation sessions. It’s expensive + not covered by insurance, but when you’re having a migraine, you’d be willing to try stabbing yourself in the face with a hot poker, so this seems a reasonable price to pay, all things considered.
  2. Peppermint oil. Some people swear by this home remedy, and it’s easy and pleasant enough, so I’m going to give it a try. And, ooh, look — it even has accessories. There aren’t many non-hippie looking oil burners around, so I was excited to find this cool geometric version.

If this helped you at all, hit the clapping hands. I’m a Leo so I guess I need the applause. But more importantly — this helps spread the word. (Let’s hear it for algorithms.)

Rachel Solomon