When I was a kid one of the games my brother and sister and I used to love to play on a Saturday was the Farm Game. It involved the Encyclopedia, and a pad and pen. We designed an imaginary farm for the three of us to live on and run, and we would draw it and plan it, and use the Encyclopedia to select our location and all our animals and plants. I'm sure the farms we created would have been impossible to run, with animals that wouldn't get along, and plant species that wouldn't grow wherever it was that we were going to be. But it kept us busy for hours, and we loved it.

Creating the Migraine-friendly home enviroment is a little like that. I could spend hours, and use home design and architecture magazines, catalogs, the web, and a lot of imagination. I could spend bottomless amounts of money I don't have, to create this environment, have a great time doing it, and I don't know how practical it would be at the end. But what I'll try to do here, instead, is mix fantasy and reality, pie in the sky with down to earth, and see if we can come up with some things you can actually use.

Starting outside, the Migraine-friendly home should be well-shaded, with deep covered porches and pollen-free trees. Migraineurs need fresh air and good circulation, but have trouble with extreme heat and bright sun, and often get triggered in high-pollen season. So let's make it possible to get outside even with a Migraine, and to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air.

Inside, lighting is very important. If you can choose lighting fixtures, great. I discovered the hard way that “high-hat” spot-lights are terrible for me, bright lighting coming down into the top of my eyes is about the worst from a triggering standpoint. Torchiere type lights, which point the light upwards and spread it gently on the ceiling, illuminate the room more indirectly and can give plenty of light without glare. Many Migraineurs find that fluorescents, even compact fluorescents, trigger them. Good old-fashioned shaded incandescent lamps can be good. We just recently got some of the brand new soft-white LED lights, which we have put in the “high-hat” sockets, and they are terrific. Non-flickering, soft illumination, but plenty of it. For the first time, I can have light coming down from above that doesn't trigger me! They are very good for the environment, too.

Having a quiet place to escape to is key. Lots of my Migraineur friends spend time on the couch, for me it's my bed. I have 2 kids and a husband who like lots of music and tvs on and I need a place where I can control the light, sound and stimulation level. If you could really set it all up beforehand like the Farm Game you would choose yourself a quiet partner and quiet kids, but I wouldn't trade the ones I have. I just have to buffer them at times.

Ideally, the Migraine-Friendly home environment would be tidy enough that the Migraineur was not tripping over stuff all the time, without the Migraineur having to be the one to tidy it up all the time. This also falls into the realm of the Farm Game - the ideal Migraine-friendly home environment comes with enough money to hire someone to do the house-keeping. Either that or choose your spouse based on their neatness and housekeeping abilities, though that may not be the best reason to choose your life companion.

Don't forget to keep what you need for comfort on hand, whether it's pillows, blankets, eye-shades, ice-packs, comedy DVDs, kitties, doggies, books on tape, spouses, children, best friends, rocking chairs, ginger Altoids, Ben & Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch, you name it. What else would you add to the design for the Migraine-friendly home?

- Megan

Author's Bio: 

Megan Oltman is a migraineur, an entrepreneur, and a Migraine Management Coach, helping migraineurs and people with chronic illness manage their lives, keep working, start and maintain businesses, and live purposeful lives. She also practices as a professional divorce mediator. Over the years, she's been a practicing attorney, a free-lance writer, and a business coach and advisor. Megan has a free Migraine management course, The Six Keys to Manage your Migraines and Take Back your Life, available at http://www.takebackyourlifefrommigraine.com Her writings on Migraine and more tools for managing life with Migraine can be found at http://www.freemybrain.com.