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Managing a Flare-Up

Let’s face it, flare-ups happen, and they can be quite miserable to say the least. My most recent one lasted about two weeks, I had horrific neck and back pain in addition to an intractable migraine. Due to COVID-19, it was a challenge to go to a doctor and receive injections right away.  I was stuck in bed, barely able to move. It was awful. Now that I’m living at home, it worried my family greater. I thought I’d share a few tips I used to get through it.

  1. Reach out to people who support me. It is great to have a base of cheerleaders, knowing there is someone to listen when I need to vent. When I’m up for talking, it’s great to feel connected with my friends and family. However, I’m not always up for talking, sometimes a simple text of “you’re doing great” or “how are you” goes a long-way. My loved ones also know not to take it personally if I do not respond right away. I don’t need to respond or a one- or two-word answer will suffice, and I’ll get back a long motivational speech cheering me on. It is just what I need. These interactions help fill up my cup with love, reminding me I am not alone.
  2. “Just one more.” I like to play a game. Just one more minute, fifteen more minutes, one more hour, two more hours, one more day, etc. I break the day into smaller time intervals to make the days seem less daunting. If I can get through these smaller time periods, I can get through anything. I use deep diaphragmatic breathing through these periods or find simple distracting tasks (see #3).
  3. Simple distractions help me pass the time mindlessly with the goal of distracting myself from the pain. That can often be a challenge – these do not cure the pain, but they help take my mind off of it temporarily. My distractions vary on my pain levels – I watch Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, scroll through Facebook/Instagram, listen to music, use coloring books, read if my eyes are up for it, puzzles, walk, gentle exercise, yoga, meditation, play with my dog, and blog if I’m up for it.
  4. Ice and heat. Depending on where my pain is, ice and heat can go a long way. I find bubble baths to so soothing and relaxing. Epsom salt relaxes my muscles and I love lush bath bombs. Fortunately, most fruity scents do not trigger my migraine. I also use ice for migraine all. the. time. The Koltec Headache Halo is my favorite. It provides a hands-free ice approach with a sport bamboo that is always dry, it never gets soggy, and lasts for up to 2 hours.
  5. Use my medication as prescribed by a healthcare provider. Sometimes I wait until the *last possible minute* to take my medication just to make sure it is truly as bad as I feel. However, there is no shame in taking medication. It was prescribed to me for a reason, and I should not be reluctant of taking it.

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