I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Zach in February. Zach is 9 years old and currently in fourth grade. He loves completing crosswords, watching TV shows, and reading.

However, Zach’s migraine condition heavily affects his ability to enjoy these activities. Reading is one of the triggers for Zach’s migraine attacks.

Although he is an active kid and enjoys playing soccer outside, excess exposure to the sun is another trigger for the attacks, which are more frequent in the summer than in the winter. Rainy weather can also cause the attacks.

The numerous triggers have led to Zach having to miss out on reading time, activities at camp, and fun with friends. However, he does everything in his power to make the best of migraine-free days and he has plenty of friends!

Zach began experiencing migraine attacks one or two times a week when he was 5 years old. They were extremely painful, nauseating, and Zach would feel cold yet feverish. The stomach pains that were a part of these attacks were also difficult to endure. Fortunately, Zach has an immensely supportive family and school community.

To better communicate the severity of the migraine attacks to his family, they developed a colour-coded system: green means manageable, yellow means difficult, and red is when the pain is so bad Zach needs to lie down or leave school.

During parent-teacher meetings at the beginning of the year, Zach’s parents discuss his needs with the teachers, so they are very accommodating of when he needs to go to the office to lie down. Zach’s migraine condition leads to him missing out on a lot of school and affects his ability to focus on his studies.

To manage his migraine, Zach follows a schedule that other fourth graders may think is quite strict. He takes numerous daily vitamins, supplements, and always starts his day with a glass of orange juice. He also follows a healthy diet and makes sure to stay hydrated to reduce the likelihood of a migraine attack occurring.

Pain relieving medications are a last resort because Zach’s family learned that frequent use of such medications can lead to phantom headaches. Throughout the interview, Zach emphasized his desire to try and deal with his migraine condition by himself first before turning to medication.

As a 9-year-old experiencing migraine, Zach is very strong.

His story highlights how valuable daily activities are to people living with migraine. Although migraine has affected every aspect of Zach’s life including school, sports, camps and hanging out with friends, Zach remains a cheerful and kind individual.

When asked what he would want to tell others living with migraine, he said, “you are not alone because everybody else who has migraine will stand with you and support you.”


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