Again, I’m not a medical professional, just a migraineur who has suffered through the agonizing feeling of getting a migraine in an airplane. Always consult a doctor on any medical advice.
Yay, your bags are packed and you’re ready. But, your body has different ideas. This article lists basically lists everything that happens on an airplane and during travel as the general top 10 triggers for migraineurs. Honestly, it’s a miracle anyone feels good after any long-haul flight.
Until very recently, I’ve been lucky enough to make it to my destination feeling dry and tired, but overall fine. While I do usually get a migraine the day after travel (stress, dehydration, not eating at the right times), I don’t usually get one on the flight. It’s so much easier to deal with a migraine when you’re on the ground than it is when you’re mid-flight and I hope none of you sufferers out there ever have to, but here are some of my tips for keeping yourself sane while your brain melts.
Keep yourself hydrated. I’ve said this in my jet lag post and it’s doubly important if you’re a migraineur. Keep yourself hydrated! Don’t worry about going into those small bathrooms to pee 30 times in a flight, just drink the water and lots of it. Bring a reusable water bottle and have the flight attendants fill it right to the top when they come by with the drink carts; this will make it easier for you to not run out of water on the flight and will cut down on those silly, tiny plastic cups being used.
Ask for ice. While you may have packed an ice pack in your carry-on or checked baggage, you can’t really just pop it into the fridge or freezer and grab it when you need during a flight. But, you can totally ask the flight attendant to bring you a bag of ice, or if they’re equipped, an ice pack from the first aid kit. Explain to them that you have a migraine and don’t feel ashamed for using the call button: this is what they’re there for!
Bring ear plugs and an eye mask. Maybe you just have a small migraine and you can nip it in the bud, you’re nearly ready to land, or you’re just being proactive. Bring those ear plugs and an eye mask to keep out the dreaded noise and light and keep your brain happy…er…content.
Grab a ginger ale because you’re going to need it. Even if you don’t get sick during a migraine, chances are you will on a flight. Turbulance sneaks up on you and even the slightest bumps can exacerbate your pain and make you feel queasy. Grab a ginger ale to calm your stomach down. It may not kill it, but it’ll help tame the beast. Or, it should. Migraines really have a mind of their own.
Don’t be afraid of the bathrooms. I hate airplane bathrooms. I refuse to use them on short-haul flights, peeing as much as I can right before we leave. But, when it comes to long-haul flights, there’s nothing you can do to escape them. I don’t like small spaces, so being crammed into a tiny vestibule that sounds like it’ll suck you out of the plane when you flush the toilet isn’t at all helpful. Unfortunately, if you’re going to vomit, you gotta get the fuck out of that seat and into a tiny airplane bathroom.
Squatting down so as not to touch anything around you is a manouever that will feel easier the third or fifth time you vomit. Worried about space? There may be a roomier bathroom at the back of the plane for you to check out. And, you’ll be hidden from concerned and annoyed patrons of the plane, wondering why someone has been in the bathroom for over half an hour. Bring your ice, vomit as you need to and rest.
Tell someone. No one wants to find someone passed out in a bathroom, especially on a plane. Tell your seat-mate, even if you’re not friends, tell a flight attendant that you’re not feeling well (they will probably assume and ask once they see you with ice, a ginger ale and tears streaming down your face). My lovely flight attendant squired me into the larger bathroom and checked up on me every so often to make sure I was still alive.
Grab one of those stupid, tiny plastic cups. If landing is a bitch, and of course it will be if you’ve a migraine, chances are good you’ll feel sick – again. While there are puke bags in the seat, I found that a drink cup worked perfectly well since I had nothing left in my system. Have both ready before you even feel sick as just-in-case precautions.
I ignored my eco-friendly mind-set and grabbed a drink in a plastic cup on my flight home solely so I would have it in case I got sick.