Working in theatre, especially with Spotlites, has its many benefits, however there is a dark side to this lifestyle that many prefer not to tell as it may impact their professional careers. We are talking about Migraine. Reveal you are affected by this malady and people think you will be taking enormous amounts of time off, which in theatreland is a no no.
In my early 20s I caught quite innocently a viral infection, I scratched my hand on a piece of flying wire when working on Peter Pan, the flying rig had just come off a Far East tour with Bros (anyone remember them). This not only put me on a life support at Guys Hospital London for ages, but when I finally recovered I ended up having horrific migraines and severe short term memory loss. Thank goodness for post-it notes and now apps.
Working in theatre in about working in the dark for long hours while looking out onto stage which is very bright and also spending a lot of this time having computer screens for lighting desks, sound equipment, etc very close to your eyes. This puts a lot of strain on your eyes.
At its peak I was spending 4 days out of 5 with a migraine. Unfortunately I have no Aura to tell me that I have one on the way in order to take preventative medication. Its just Wham – Ice Cold Steal Bar running through me from the top of my head to the side of my neck with aversion to noise and light – great if you work in Lighting and Sound for shows!!
So how do I combat this and how come I feel I am successful with migraine.
My arsenal of anti-migraine weapons
1. I don’t take any migraine medication, except pain relief when I have one (if I don’t vomit it back up that is) – all the ones the doctor gave me didn’t work
2. I don’t drink Alcohol (last sip was Dec 31st 1999 – brother in law proposed to his now wife in Greenwich with the turn of the Millennium)
3. I don’t Smoke – 10th October 2008 was the last time I had a cigarette
4. I don’t eat Cheese – I love cheese especially Stilton Blue
5. I have ‘four gates’ style acupuncture once a week – my NHS does this free for arthritis and severe trauma patents (and I sneak in)
6. I don’t eat uncooked tomatoes – its ok if they have been cooked but not raw
7. I don’t eat oranges and definitely no drinking of orange juice
8. I drink 3 litres of water a day (I prefer Evian)
9. Change all your computer monitors to LCD – none of that old CRT style
If I get a migraine what I do to try to get rid of it
1. Brush my hair
2. Go to the loo
3. wiggle my head and shoulders
4. eat 4 bars of chocolate
5. drink a coffee
6. try the Vulcan mind meld acupressure forehead grip – gently lay fingertips on the top of your forehead just below the hair line for 3 mins – very gently no presure or pushing – this really does work if done right
7. clean my ears, blow my nose
8. use fourhead – the roll on thing from chemists
9. breath through my noe and concentrate – i mean concentrate on feeling the air go in and out of the tip on my nose for 5 mins – this really works
10. Get some Clingfilm, wrap and screw it up and then spend 5 mins trying to unravel it slowly – you have to concentrate to not rip any bits
11. take sinutab sinus medication for bungedupness
12. Otherwise its a dark room, earplugs and facemask and hope it goes within 3 days
Please share any tips you may have. Thank you