Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. Paul, my mom and I arrived home from our European adventure at 1am on Monday morning. My cross-country flight for work took off six hours later. I experienced my first migraine the following day.
Between the time changes, weather changes and lack of sleep, I surprisingly didn’t realize how much my body was struggling to keep up. My trip was just shy of 36 hours from start to finish. While my meeting was only four hours, I figured I’d be fine running on fumes and was looking forward to my flight home.
At 8:30am the morning of my meeting, a hot feeling flushed through my body. My face felt tingly and my head throbbed. I was in the middle of a presentation and excused myself to the restroom. Little did I know, I was experiencing my first migraine. Yes, I realize I’m quite lucky to have gone my whole life without a migraine. I’ve always been prone to headaches but somehow managed to avoid the dreaded M-word for the past 30+ years.
My flight was schedule for 2pm and as I packed up my bag, I was feeling worse. There was no time to stop for any medication before my flight, so I had to rely on the things I had at my disposal until I was able to make it home.
I HAD MY FIRST MIGRAINE… WHILE FLYING CROSS-COUNTRY (+ 7 RELIEF TIPS)
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This post is simply a summary of my experience and personal research on migraines. Consult your physician before trying anything new.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, migraines can last anywhere from four hours to three DAYS
- There are four stages of a migraine, but not everyone who gets migraines will experience every stage
- Some pre-migraine symptoms may includes neck stiffness, extreme thirst and mood changes
- Common migraine symptoms include nausea, light & noise sensitivity and even touch sensitivity
- Some people will experience confusion or unexplained elation post-migraine
For more info, the Mayo Clinic has excellent resources online. As always, your doctor is the only one who can truly diagnose and recommend appropriate steps for your needs.
7 RELIEF TIPS (THAT I USED MID-FLIGHT)
- Luckily I had my neck pillow with a built in hood which I used to block the light from my eyes (an eye mask could work too but the tightness might be uncomfortable – my face was so tender).
- I ordered a ginger ale. Ginger is a great natural remedy for many ailments including nausea, inflammation and it can even aid in digestion, among many other things.
- Another time my noise-canceling headphones came to the rescue. While I was very sensitive to noise, I tried a thunderstorm meditation track and found it relaxing, all things considered! It helped to keep my mind off my headache, was soothing and blocked out the loud plane noise.
- This one isn’t so appealing, but I pulled the barf-bag (what’s the adult term for this??) out of the seat back pocket and held it in my hand. The migraine was making me incredibly nauseous and holding onto the bag helped to curb my fears if I couldn’t make it to the restroom in time. Luckily I didn’t need it.
- I grew up using Reflexology on my hands/feet to help relieve ailments. I rubbed the pressure points between my thumb and index finger in light but firm circular motions to help ease the headache. You can Google “reflexology hands and feet” for more info!
- Upon finally landing in Philly for my layover, I deplaned and immediately ran to the store to buy medication. They only had a couple of options (very expensive options), so I opted for the Tylenol Rapid Release pills. “Rapid” was the selling point. After downing the recommended dose, I sat in the “quiet section” of the Admirals Club lounge until it was time to board. Within about two hours of my second flight (after taking the medication) my migraine began to subside.
- Bonus: After arriving home, I purchased Ginger Flight Therapy from one of my favorite brands, Aesop. This little bottle is a roller ball of essential oils to help with headaches mid-flight, although its a bit pricey. You can find cheaper ones, like this one with a great lavender & mint scent on Amazon (under $12)!