How to Handle a Migraine
by Dakota Donovan

Recognize the early warning signs:
sensitivity to smells,
tunnel vision,
seeing zigzags,
runny nose,
stomach pains.
Take OTC meds,
Excedrin works best.
If full-blown attack ensues:
Drink caffeinated beverages,
put icepack on affected
side of the head,
place cold, wet washcloth
over eyes
and affected side of the head.
Eat saltine crackers or dry toast.
Eat popsicles.
Pray to St. Gemma, the
patron saint of headaches.
If you’re lucky, you will fall asleep
and wake up without a headache.
After the attack,
you may experience
acute visual phenomena such
as outlines around objects.
You may also experience a giddy
euphoria, something to enjoy
while you can.
You’ve lived
Through another attack.

IMAGE: Portrait of Françoise Gilot by Pablo Picasso (1948).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After decades of suffering from migraine headaches, I’ve learned a few things about the condition. Migraines can result from a variety of factors or triggers—anything that causes the veins to dilate and press on a nerve (this is what causes the intense pain). Triggers include foods (garlic), beverages (red wine), and weather conditions (low cloud cover). People often confuse a “bad” headache with a migraine. You’ll know it’s a migraine if the pain is on one side of your head. Visual phenomena, such as auras or seeing zigzags, can precede or accompany a migraine. Treatments all aim to contract the blood vessel, so it no longer presses on the nerve in your head. Caffeine and ice packs help in this regard. Over-the-counter medications that include caffeine (e.g., Excedrin) are also helpful. An insightful book on this condition is Migraine by Oliver Sacks.

Stylish woman at the summer beach in a hot day

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dakota Donovan is a ghostwriter for the rich and famous who lives in Los Angeles. She’s had many wild and crazy experiences while working with celebrities to tell their life stories, and some of these strange-but-true tales appear in her comic mystery novel L.A. Sleepers, where she is both author and protagonist—and suffers many migraines. In other incarnations, she’s written novels, plays, screenplays, and television scripts. She’s currently working on the second novel in her Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery series.