Living with Migraine Disease: 'It’s Imperative I Manage the Triggers' - Women's Health

Living with Migraine Disease: ‘It’s Imperative I Manage the Triggers’

How one woman copes with the condition.

36-year-old mother of three Sarah Orell began suffering from migraine disease when she fell pregnant with her first child in 2019. 

She was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension, a type of migraine where sufferers experience increased pressure in the brain1. Sarah likens her migraine attacks to a concussion, experiencing vision loss, heart palpitations and pain that is so intense, it often leaves her bed ridden. 

Following two brain surgeries in an attempt to alleviate the cause of her migraine, one in November 2020 and another in February 2021, Sarah was afforded only brief periods of remission and now continues to experience migraine attacks on a daily basis, with her symptoms persisting for an average of 6 hours. 

As a busy mum to three children under five, who also runs a business with her husband, Sarah says it is essential for her to manage her condition as best as she’s able to, so she can enjoy her time with her kids and live as “normally” as possible. 

Alongside the clinical management of her condition, Sarah prioritises a self-care routine that is tailored to her own triggers and symptoms. One of Sarah’s many tools is what she calls brain breaks, where every hour she closes her eyes, clears her mind, and focuses on her breathing for a few minutes. 

Adequate hydration and sleep are also critical to her management. 

Sarah says that “getting enough sleep, managing my stress levels, and staying on top of my hydration can definitely be a challenge when I’m chasing after the kids and running our small business, but I don’t really have a choice. My husband is always on my case if I have a late night as he knows how important my sleep is. 

“A lot of my migraine triggers are things that I can’t control, like the weather and environmental triggers – so it’s imperative that I manage the triggers that I can, through self-care.” 

Despite the severity of her condition, Sarah remains positive, often joking that she is always one step ahead of the weathercaster. 

Like many Australians with migraine disease, Sarah’s faced challenges managing her condition through COVID-19. 

“Initially, it was the stress of the pandemic that really affected me, as well as the huge disruption to my routine. With the kids at home all the time while we we’re also working from home, it really is a delicate balancing act.” 

“Then, it became near impossible to even get an appointment with my neurologist because of changes to appointments and prioritisation of health concerns. I understood why, but it was incredibly stressful and left me feeling very anxious,” said Sarah. 

Sarah has found solace in the online migraine community; however, she still struggles with the lack of awareness and understanding of the severity of migraine disease. 

She is passionate about sharing her story to help people understand the reality of migraine, and the steps that people can take to help manage their own condition and triggers as best they can. 

 

References 

1. Migraine & Headache Australia. Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. Available online: headacheaustralia.org.au [last accessed: August 2021] 

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