I’ve written before about the value of documenting migraine. Today I thought I’d go into more detail and share how and what I document about a migraine attack, both as it occurs, and afterwards.
Currently, I document my attacks in two ways. The first is in a specific Migraine Diary (shown left, above). I bought it as a printable file on Etsy which can be cut and bound into a standard TN sized notebook. (Making my own notebooks is also a thing I love to do.) I keep it with the rest of my migraine supplies in my migraine bag… something else I need to talk about, another day. Anyways, during the attack, I try to draw (scribble?) where and how I’m feeling pain and other sensory things like pressure or numbness. Also, I try to choose some of the descriptive phrases provided, since these are hard to remember after the attack is over.
It feels as if there is hammering and pounding in the head. Sound or talking is unbearable, as is light or glare. The pain arises from hot, choleric fumes, together with windiness. And so one feels piercing, burning and ringing…The Franciscan monk Bartholomaeus Anglicus, in the 13th century (source)
(The descriptions in my migraine diary are not that different from these, some eight centuries later…)
Later, when the attack is over, I go back in to record all the other information.
And I have that all (mostly) documented in my daily planner and tracking pages. So things like sleep duration, weather and other climate factors, stressors, what meds I took, etc. will all be recorded in this notebook somewhere.
Planner and Tracking notebook
The second type of migraine documentation is in my monthly tracking spread (shown right, above). You can see one month of tracking in detail in this post, along with some reflection of how it works for me. Specifically, in the bottom section, I grade my symptoms and attacks on a scale from one to three. It’s not pain specifically, as most health care systems rate pain on a scale from one to ten. Rather, for my own benefit, my system is based more on function, like this:
- Level 1 is some degree of pain and sensitivities, but managing regular tasks and activities if necessary.
- Level 2 is minimal functioning, in small stretches, but preferably not.
- Level 3 is completely incapacitated.
Here, I also note which meds and treatments I took and whether or not they worked.
I’m happy with having all this information in monthly format at a glance. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the number or migraine days/month and the efficacy of meds are important decision-making factors when speaking with your doctor.
And that’s it. The current paper and pen migraine tracking system I’m using.
Stationery in the Photo
P.S. If you’re not a paper and pen type of person, there are lots of tracking options for you too. I have less to say about that because they don’t really work for me, but this is a recent and comprehensive article from Migraine Again.