While I am blessed to finally be at a point that my migraine frequency and severity has been greatly reduced, there has been a price to pay. It has been relatively easy to accept the food limitations, shields from bright lights, and frequent earplug use. However, it has not been easy to accept everything I must do to avoid airborne chemical triggers. This requires that I stay at my home with the air and water filters that we have installed, a lonely proposition.
Many of the triggers for my migraines and vertigo are chemicals included in air fresheners and cleaners commonly used in most buildings, such as grocery stores, doctors’ offices, restaurants, libraries, and churches. The perfumes, scented lotions, and laundry detergents used by people who go to these places also fill the air with chemicals that quickly reduce me to an immobilized lump. Until now, my only option to feel well enough to function in my roles at home was to stay there. I have finally found an option that allows me to venture out of my house for short periods of time: a respiratory mask.
The first one I tried was the “I Can Breathe” mask which I found to be comfortable. Elastic bands fit around the ears rather than the neck which I like. I had a good seal around my chin but could not get a good fit across the bridge of my nose. Therefore, air leaked in without being filtered, and air leaked out, steaming up my glasses. I ended up getting a migraine the first time I used this in a room with a lot of perfumes. I also felt like I was struggling to breathe, perhaps because I had to breathe in and out through the filter medium.
The second mask I tried was the “Respro Allergy Mask” with the chemical and particle filter. This mask includes one-way valves that allow exhaled air to be easily expelled, an improvement over the “I Can Breathe Mask”. However, this mask is strapped around the neck which was initially uncomfortable for me. It presses on areas in my neck that tend to hurt during migraines, and I initially thought this would trigger a migraine. This has not been a problem as I have adjusted to the mask though. Other adjustments have been necessary for comfort and effectiveness. I sewed cotton fabric into the chin area because it did not seal well initially. The metal bar across the nose is uncomfortable after wearing the mask for about an hour. So, I placed a thin piece of padding to the underside of the bar. It seems to me that securing the mask around my neck tends to pull the mask downward, causing the chin to leak and the metal bar to press harder into my nose. The adjustments I have made have resolved these issues though. The huge upside to this mask is that IT WORKS! I have been able to attend church, take children to appointments, and run short errands without getting a migraine!
My hope is that there is a more comfortable option at some point, but I am thankful for what I have now.