Managing migraine is a lot like driving. Living our best life with migraine doesn’t come naturally. We need to learn new information, develop new skills, and practice those skills. Managing migraine is best done when we’re the one driving our migraine treatment.
In Who’s Really Driving Your Bus? James Henman uses the metaphor of driving a bus to represent managing our lives. He encourages us to become skilled “drivers” of our own lives. Let’s explore this idea as we examine the critical skills needed in driving our migraine treatment.
1. Clean the windshield
Our experiences and beliefs can cloud our vision just like dirt or smudged fingerprints cloud the visibility of a windshield. Like rain from a storm or the splashing of mud on a windshield, our vision may be clouded by circumstances beyond our control. Driving our migraine treatment may require us to clean off the grime left by failed treatments, difficult bosses, unsympathetic friends, or even the residue from our own choices.
2. Get rid of clutter
Clutter can be dangerous if we must suddenly stop, swerve, or speed ahead. We may need to make quick adjustments when driving our migraine treatment. Are there things in our lives that might make that difficult?
3. Maintain a well-stocked emergency kit
We need a fully-stocked emergency kit in case of breakdowns (attacks). Are we prepared for a migraine attack anywhere, anytime? Do we have back-up plans for both acute and preventive treatment failures?
4. Ensure passenger safety
Migraine affects those around us. Driving our migraine treatment includes caring for those we love who are also along for the ride.
5. Establish some rules
Unruly or disruptive passengers are counter-productive to our well-being. We have a responsibility to teach others about migraine management. Most will gladly cooperate. Feel free to remove those who won’t.
Safe driving habits
1. Read the signs
Knowing how to read the signs helps us find our way and stay out of danger. Our migraine disease has signs that will tell us what to expect and alert us to potential changes in the landscape. Learning to accurately interpret the signs (symptoms) of migraine gives us greater confidence to respond effectively.
2. Separate fact from fiction
Knowing the facts about migraine is essential for safely driving our migraine treatment. Lack of knowledge can slow us down, lead us off course, and even cause us harm.
3. Cruising the open road
Expertly driving our migraine treatment takes time. Some of us zip in and out of migraine traffic like a pro. Others are still developing skills in the safety of a parking lot. What matters is that we keep progressing.
4. Driving isn’t a spectator sport
Taking the wheel is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. It may seem easier to let someone else be in charge. Unfortunately, no one else can drive our migraine treatment. No matter how many scrapes, dents, or near-misses, we must learn to drive it ourselves.
5. Actions have consequences
Our actions behind the wheel have consequences. In driving our migraine treatment, we’ll make some mistakes. It’s our responsibility to learn from our mistakes, not give up because of them.
6. Knowing our limits
Driving our migraine treatment alone when symptoms are beyond our control is unwise. Know when to ask for help or consult a Migraine expert. Sometimes, the best course of action is to pull off the road and call for help.
7. Eyes on the road
If we’re to make progress, we must spend most of our time looking forward. It is helpful to review past migraine treatments and experiences to inform our future choices, but we can’t get stuck in the past. Progress is made by facing forward with our eyes on the road ahead.
8. Hands on the wheel
We control the direction of our treatment. Our migraine treatment can get off course when we aren’t paying attention. We’re the only ones who can guide it back onto the road and steer it in the right direction.
9. Finding your way
It’s hard to reach our destination if you don’t know the way. Without directions, we may get lost, waste time, and use up all our fuel. We need a roadmap to get to migraine treatment success, too. Often, we need a professional navigator (migraine specialist) to help us find our way.
1. Keep a sharp eye out for danger
Safe driving means watching out for potential danger. Defensive driving is a lot like migraine trigger avoidance. We must learn to recognize potential danger.
2. Hone your reflexes
Recognizing our triggers is just the first step. Learning how to expertly avoid them takes practice.
3. Nerves of steel
Safe driving requires emotional control, especially in high-risk situations. With practice we can learn to respond to migraine triggers and symptoms without becoming overwhelmed by negative emotion.
Driving our migraine treatment is our responsibility. We owe it to ourselves to be skilled, safe drivers.
Henman, J. (2003). Who’s Really Driving Your Bus? Trafford Publishing. Victoria, Canada.