A Perfect Storm Migraine Attack Revealed the Limits of My “Push Through the Pain” Philosophy

As told to Erica Rimlinger

It was the big day: my first Zoom event at my new job. I woke up with my mind buzzing with details. I set my intention: I’d create a safe space for everyone in the breakout room I was moderating and the event would be a success.

I jumped right into juggling the daily demands of being a working mom. My husband was out of town, so the first step was to make sure the babysitter was set to help with my 4- and 6-year-old after I brought them home from school.

I’ve got it, I thought, my Superwoman cape flapping in the breeze. It’s nothing I can’t handle.

And then, as the morning sun streamed through my office window, I felt the first twinge of a headache that responds to bright light and reminds me I’m human.

I’ve always had headaches, but I’ve also always had an amazing ability to keep it together until it’s OK to unravel. I remember pulling all-nighters in high school and acing my exams only to have a complete meltdown in the car on the drive home.

Growing up with a mother who is a self-transformational guru — and later getting immersed in the work myself — I have familiarity with self-care tools that have helped me cope with the biggest stressors in my life.

But after having my children, my mindfulness practice got set aside, like so many other self-care habits. And my slight tension headaches grew into debilitating migraine attacks.

Like any difficult relationship, I had to get to know these migraine attacks very well before I could understand them — and then use my knowledge to make them go away. I learned they make me sensitive to light and loud noises. I’ve noticed my attacks are tied to my hormonal health. And I’ve also figured out that I can usually stave off an attack if I drink enough water, eat well, sleep well and manage my stress levels.

None of which I’d been able to do that day.

While each migraine attack has its own individual “tell,” a little warning bell that rings softly at first, I can miss it — if I choose. I noticed my light sensitivity but told myself I had no time to give to a migraine attack that day. I would push through the pain. I, like many women I know and admire, prided myself on my ability to thrive under pressure.

But, despite my willpower, the headache grew throughout the morning into the afternoon, intensifying with each ball that was added to what I was juggling. It seemed to compress these details into lasers of pain that pierced my eyes and brain.

I had a call in 15 minutes but I could no longer even sit at my desk. I crawled to my bed, phone in hand. When I felt able to muster the effort, I searched for medicine. I was out. I texted my boss.

“Are you OK to handle this call without me?” I asked. “I feel a migraine attack coming on.” Thankfully, she told me to turn off my phone and go to sleep.

I did just that and woke up at 3:00 p.m. I panicked. School was going to end in 15 minutes, and the babysitter wasn’t on the list of authorized people to pick up my kids. I contemplated getting up to walk the five minutes to the school to get them myself, but with each slight movement my nausea got worse. I was stuck.

Jessica and family
Jessica and her family, 2022

I called my husband out of an important off-site meeting and he arranged for the babysitter to grab the kids and to get me medicine. I hung up the phone, vomited and fell back asleep.

Hours later, I woke up to the sound of happy little voices settling into bed. I lifted the pillow off my face ever so slightly to look at my phone. It was 8:20 p.m. The new shirt I’d bought with my company brand colors was still hanging in my closet. I’d missed the event. I’d missed bedtime. I’d missed it all.

In the end, the kids were fine and the event was a success. But I was left with a lot to process during my post-migraine fog. I was scared of what would have happened if the babysitter hadn’t been there. I was worried about what would have happened if my team hadn’t been able to step in. Thankfully, my babysitter and my colleagues had come through for me. But, I realized, I hadn’t come through for myself.

By not prioritizing taking care of myself, I’d created the perfect storm of not being able to take care of any of my priorities. It hit home for me: Self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Since that day, I’ve made a conscious commitment to my own health and wellness. When I feel that light sensitivity creeping in, I know to hit pause, reassess and give my body what it’s requesting. I’ve reinstated my mindfulness practice, which has helped me to be present. You can’t worry about the future or the past if you’re living in the moment. And on particularly busy days, I add taking care of myself to the top of my list of intentions.

Like everything else, it takes practice to learn how to fully listen to your ever-changing body and I’m still working on it but the little changes I’ve made are having an impact. I haven’t had a migraine attack since.

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Our Real Women, Real Stories are the authentic experiences of real-life women. The views, opinions and experiences shared in these stories are not endorsed by HealthyWomen and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HealthyWomen.

Fitness Health

It’s (Exercise) Snack Time!

Medically reviewed by Brandon Bishop DPT, ATC

Are you sitting down? It might be time for a snack — an exercise snack, that is.

New research shows that bursts of exercise throughout the day — one- or two-minute “snacks” — can improve health and protect muscles from the harmful consequences of sitting too long.

The research also found that exercise snacking may be just as beneficial as traditional workouts. Why? The key is moving your body more often. In one study, participants who sat nonstop for 10-plus hours but exercised for 30 minutes straight per day had elevated blood sugars, cholesterol and body fat, but the men and women who moved more often throughout the day were healthier.

And the best part? You can do exercise snacks anytime, anywhere. “You don’t need to find 45- to 60-minute blocks during the day to take care of yourself,” said Brandon Bishop DPT, ATC, a physical therapist at Reischl Physical Therapy in California. “Participating in two-minute exercises throughout the day is a great way to improve your overall health, both physically and mentally.”

Here’s how it works: Try one of the exercises in the snack menu below for two minutes every hour (or every 30 minutes if possible) and get ready to look and feel like a healthy snack.

Mini Lunge

mini lunge

  • Begin in a standing upright position.
  • Step forward with one foot and lower down into a mini lunge position. Return to standing and repeat on the other leg.
  • Tip: Do not let your front knee move forward past your toes.

Single-Leg Balance with Alternating Floor Reaches

Single-Leg Balance with Alternating Floor Reaches

  • Begin in a standing upright position.
  • Bend forward at your hips, lifting one leg straight behind you, and reach toward the ground with one hand at the same time. Return back to the starting position and repeat with your other arm.
  • Tip: Maintain your balance and keep your back straight as you bend forward.

Squat with Chair Touch

Squat with Chair Touch

  • Begin in a standing upright position in front of a chair.
  • Lower yourself into a squatting position, bending at your hips and knees, until you lightly touch the chair. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Tip: Make sure to maintain your balance during the exercise and do not let your knees bend forward past your toes.

Squat Jumps

Squat Jumps

  • Begin in a standing upright position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Lower yourself into a squatting position with your arms straight, then jump up, moving your arms back as you do. Land in a squat and repeat the movement.
  • Tip: Make sure your knees do not collapse inward or move forward past your toes as you land and try not to over arch your back.

Wall Squat

  • Begin in a standing upright position in front of a wall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Lean back into a squat against the wall with your knees bent to 90 degrees, and hold this position.
  • Tip: Make sure your knees are not bent forward past your toes and keep your back flat against the wall during the exercise.

Wall Squat with Leg Lifts

  • Begin in a standing upright position in front of a wall. Place your palms against the wall and lean back into a squat position.
  • Slowly lift one leg up to 90 degrees, then lower it back down and repeat with your other leg.
  • Tip: Make sure your knees are not bent forward past your toes and keep your back flat against the wall during the exercise.



  • Begin standing upright. Bend your hips and knees into a mini squat position.
  • Slowly step sideways, then step back to the starting position in the opposite direction.
  • Tip: Keep your feet pointing straight forward, your abdominals tight and do not let your knees collapse inward during the exercise.

Standing Hip Extension

Standing Hip Extension

  • Begin in a standing upright position holding on to a stable object for support.
  • Lift one leg backward, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Tip: Keep your back straight and maintain your balance during the exercise.

Standard Plank

Standard Plank

  • Begin lying on your front, propped up on your elbows.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your hips and legs up into a plank position, keeping your elbows directly under your shoulders. Hold this position.
  • Tip: Keep your back straight and maintain a gentle chin tuck during the exercise.

Supine 90/90 Alternating Heel Touches with Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Supine 90/90 Alternating Heel Touches with Posterior Pelvic Tilt

  • Begin lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet resting on the ground. Tighten your abdominals to tilt your pelvis backward, then move both legs to a 90 degree angle.
  • Slowly lower one leg down to touch your heel to the ground, while keeping your knee bent, then bring it back up to the starting position and repeat with your other leg.
  • Tip: Keep your abdominals tight and your pelvis tilted backward throughout the exercise.

Multiple Sclerosis and Cognitive Function

Most people know multiple sclerosis (MS) as a disease that affects you physically. But many don’t know that it can also impact your memory and cognition (learning and processing).

Tara Kent, a 39-year-old mother of 12-year-old twins, was diagnosed with the disease seven years ago. She knows the emotional effect these mental issues can have on a person. “I feel like having MS has affected my identity and how I see myself,” she said. “I don’t recognize myself a lot of the time anymore. Like, who is this Tara Normal Tara would never forget this or never do that.”

Kent’s physical MS symptoms started just a few weeks before she was diagnosed, but when she was asked when she noticed something wasn’t right with her memory or when her brain fog started, she had to check with her husband. According to him, it had been over the last three or four years that her cognitive and memory symptoms started and got worse.

Cognitive issues don’t affect everyone with MS

“Cognitive problems don’t affect everyone with MS, but they affect a large proportion of patients,” said Bardia Nourbakhsh, M.D., M.A.S., associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Cognitive problems are associated with a lower quality of life for patients, and they can end in disability and loss of jobs. They also affect personal lives and relationships.” But, Nourbakhsh pointed out, it’s important to note that this cognitive decline is not the same as the decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. Cognitive decline and memory issues related to MS are more subtle and usually less severe.

When patients with MS tell Nourbakhsh about brain fog or cognitive issues, he refers them for testing to see how far along the decline is. He also wants to know if the problems are caused by a reversible issue, like thyroid disease, vitamin B12 deficiency or a medication side effect. Once he knows the cognitive problems are related to MS, Nourbakhsh and his patients work together to come up with a treatment plan. “There is no medication that’s been shown to improve cognitive functioning in people with MS,” Nourbakhsh explained. “So the focus of treatment of cognitive problems in MS is rehabilitation. We ask our rehabilitation colleagues, including occupational therapists or a speech and language pathologist, to help with those issues,” he said. While there are not yet therapies to improve cognitive functioning, there are some therapies that slow cognitive decline, and these may be used along with rehabilitation.

Cognitive rehabilitation

Michelle Mioduszewski, M.S., OTR/L, owner of Niagara Therapy, sees people with MS in her occupational therapy practice. She has found that cognitive impairment and executive dysfunction are common in these clients, she said. “[Executive function includes] things like memory for detail and facts, and organization — being able to put together large pieces of information, organize it and manipulate it in your mind.”

To help her clients manage symptoms, Mioduszewski assesses their needs. They discuss what tasks her clients do at home, at work and where they volunteer, if they do. “We sit down with the client and look globally at what has been impacted by their MS or anything else that’s going on, what’s causing those challenges,” Mioduszewski said. This could be anything from muscle endurance issues or fatigue to coordination or cognitive issues. “Once we determine what particular area is challenging, we collaboratively come up with a plan.”

While Mioduszewski can’t do anything about the actual memory loss, she can help clients come up with adaptations, such as using their phone to take notes.

Discussing issues with your neurologist

Medical treatment is a team effort, but your neurologist can’t help you if you don’t share what you’re experiencing. It’s vital to be open and upfront about new or worsening symptoms and their effect on your life. But the idea of speaking with the doctor and asking the right questions can be discouraging for someone with memory problems.

“My husband is my rock and my brain for me when I can’t remember. I usually have my husband with me when I do most things, so he reminds me,” Kent said. “He either comes [to the doctor’s appointment] with me or I will make a list of questions or things I need to talk about with my doctor.”

Coping with cognitive issues, brain fog and forgetfulness

Given the impact of MS-related cognitive issues, you may need more assistance than you think. “Many times, we have to provide documentation for employers or schools for patients who struggle with these issues,” Nourbakhsh said. “Asking for accommodation is possible and available for many people.”

People with MS can also try complementary approaches like music therapy, which helps some people with remembering things and interpreting their senses. Physical exercise also helps some people improve their memory.

As for other steps, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends:

  • Don’t rely on just one way to learn. You may need to watch, read, hear and practice for instructions to sink in.
  • Repeat and verify instructions or facts you need to remember.
  • Associate names with something you already know. If you meet someone named Anthony and you went to St. Anthony High School, put them together in your mind.
  • Use tools to help you remember things, like your phone, a notebook, a calendar or even a voice recorder.
  • Do one thing at a time. Don’t try to multitask.

Most importantly, don’t give up. Mioduszewski recalled one client who had a mess of a checkbook. “We worked on organizational strategies and how to keep track of things,” she said. “Lo and behold, this client actually found a mistake and got money back into the account because it was a bank error. She found it because she was now so organized.”

This resource was created with support from BMS.


Meg Gets a Colonoscopy

Medically reviewed by Ayanna Lewis, M.D.

Tip: Click the oval at the bottom to view in full-screen. View PDF here.

… 3 days before

A woman, Meg, around age 45 whose race is ambiguous, is receiving a RX at the pharmacy

Pharmacist: So, you’re having a colonoscopy? Good for you. Here’s your medicine for the prep. Be sure to read the instructions carefully.

Meg: I’ve heard it can be rough! Is there anything I can do to make it easier?

Pharmacist: Yeah, you’ll want to stay close to the bathroom. But you can eat a low-fiber diet a few days before to make it a little easier.

The day before your procedure, stick to a clear liquid diet.

(Pull out) Avoid

Whole grains

Nuts & Seeds

Dried fruit

Raw fruit


… the day before

Reading the back of the box

Then show her taking the pills and drinking


Bowel prep kits can be liquid, tables, pills or powder

Meg … Thought bubble: So, I have to take these pills with a full glass of water until I finish them.

Convey that Meg is doing things around her house — be sure her ambiguous-gendered partner and kids make appearances in the background — as she waits for the prep to kick in

Thought bubble: Hmmm … the prep isn’t working.

Thought bubble: I really thought I’d be feeling it by now.

Show a surprised face and then show Meg running to and from the bathroom a few times, maybe with Tazmanian devil lines all around her

Oh! Now it’s working!

Yup, it’s working!

The two kids heads and a dog’s head pop in to the frame as they watch Meg run to the bathroom.

It must be finally working!


Have these handy:

Baby or adult wipes with aloe & vitamin E

Diaper cream

Petroleum jelly

… the day of

Meg enters the facility with her partner.

Receptionist: Are you ready for the big day? Do you have someone here to drive you home?

Meg: Yes, my partner’s going to stay with me.

Quick series to show her putting on a medical gown, and then in an OR with a big screen next to her with a medical team around her, she should be lying on her left side.

Show external monitor that the doctor will be looking at

Nurse: Here, you go. C hange into this gown. Everything comes off! Don’t worry, it sounds worse than it is. You won’t feel a thing, and it’ll be over before you know it.

Doctor says: We’re just going to make you comfortable, give you a sedative and use a small camera to take a look at your colon. We’ll be checking for polyps and any other abnormalities.

Meg is on the table, lying on her left side, with an anesthesiologist nearby

Anesthesiologist: Count backward from 100.

Meg wakes up and sees her partner in the chair next to her in a recovery room (or stall)

Meg: When are they doing the procedure?

Partner: You’re finished, it’s done!

Meg: It’s done? All that worrying for nothing?

Doctor walks in

Doctor: The lead-up is definitely worse than the procedure. And I’ve got your results right here. Everything looked good, and you don’t have to visit me again for 10 years.

No butts about it — screening is easy!

Screening Guidelines

Risk Factors Include

All adults should be screened for colon cancer regularly starting at age 45.

Adults with increased risk factors may need to be screened earlier. Ask your healthcare provider what’s good for you.

Family history of colorectal cancer

Inflammatory bowel disease

Certain genetic syndromes, including Lynch syndrome

Tobacco & alcohol use

Overweight and obesity

A low-fiber, high-fat diet

Ashkenazi Jewish heritage

Follow-Up Guidelines

After your test is over, your HCP will tell you when to get screened again.

If you have polyps, follow up could be anywhere from one month to 10 years.

For more information, please visit

This resource was created with support from Merck.


Mujeres posmenopáusicas y el cáncer endometrial

Shawana S. Moore, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-B, hizo la revisión médica de este documento

Infographic Mujeres posmenopu00e1usicas y el cu00e1ncer endometrial. Click the image to open the PDF

¿Qué es el cáncer endometrial?  

Es un tipo de cáncer uterino que se desarrolla en la mucosa interna del útero y es el tipo de cancer que afecta mas frecuentemente el Sistema reproductivo femenino . 

¿Quién tiene riesgo de cáncer endometrial?  

Cualquier persona que tenga un útero puede tener cáncer endometrial, pero la mayoría de casos se diagnostican en mujeres posmenopáusicas. 

¿Por qué las mujeres posmenopáusicas tienen un mayor riesgo? 

Aunque los ovarios dejan de producir estrógeno y progesterona después de la menopausia, aún puede encontrarse estrógeno en el tejido adiposo. Esto causa un desequilibrio hormonal que implica un mayor riesgo de cáncer endometrial. 

El recibir terapia hormónal después de la menopausia usando exclusivamente estrógenos sin progesterona también incrementa el riesgo de cáncer endometrial.  

Algunos factores de riesgo frecuentes 

  • Tener un período temprano o una menopausia tardía
  • Tener sobrepeso u obesidad
  • Tener un síndrome metabólico que es un grupo de condiciones que elevan el riesgo de enfermedades cardíacas y de diabetes tipo 2
  • Tener condicion es tales como síndrome de ovario poliquístico (SOP) o tomar medicamentos tales como los utilizadoes para terapias de estrógeno que afectan los niveles hormonales
  • No haberse embarazado
  • Tener el síndrome de Lynch 

¿Sabías lo siguiente? 

Tener tu primer período antes de los 12 años o experimentar la menopausia tarde incrementa el riesgo de cáncer endometrial debido a la mayor exposición a estrógenos.  

Algunos signos y señales frecuentes 

  • Sangrado o manchado entre los períodos menstruales
  • Sangrado vaginal después de la menopausia
  • Dolor durante las relaciones sexuales
  • Sensacion de presión o dolor pélvico

Estos no son todos los síntomas de cáncer endometrial y también podrían ser causados por otras condiciones. Estos síntomas podrían ignorarse fácilmente, así que es importante hablar con tu proveedor de servicios médicos sobre cualquier síntoma preocupante en cuanto aparezca. Si experimentas cualquiera de estos síntomas, comunícate con tu proveedor de servicios médicos.  

Métodos de diagnóstico 

  • Examen pélvico: examen en el cual un Proveedor de servicios médicos (medico o enfermera)  palpa el útero, la vagina y los ovarios para detectar cualquier anomalía
  • Ultrasonido: Un examen que mide el grosor del endometrio y el tamaño del útero
  • Muestras de tejidos:
    • Biopsia: Un procedimiento que extrae un monto pequeño de tejido para su examinación con un microscopio
    • Histeroscopia: La inserción de un tubo delgado flexible a través de la vagina para que el medico o enfermera pueda ver la mucosa del útero y tomar una muestra del tejido
    • Dilatación y legrado (D&C, por sus siglas en inglés): Un procedimiento para extraer muestras de tejidos del útero para examinar y detectar células cancerosas  

Opciones de tratamiento 

  • Cirugía para extraer el útero, los ovarios y las trompas de Falopio
  • Quimioterapia
  • Radiación
  • Farmacoterapia dirigida
  • Terapia hormonal
  • Inmunoterapia 

Desigualdad del índice de supervivencia  

Aunque las mujeres tienen, en general, un 95% de probabilidades de sobrevivir el cáncer endometrial , un estudio determinó que las mujeres de raza negra tienen un 90% más de riesgo de mortalidad a los 5 años en comparación con las mujeres de raza blanca. 

Anatomía del útero

Dato curioso 

El útero tiene 3 pulgadas de largo (para la mayoría de mujeres que no están embarazadas).  

Este recurso se preparó con la asistencia y apoyo de Eisai Inc.




Postmenopausal Women and Endometrial Cancer

Medically reviewed by Shawana S. Moore, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-B

Infographic Postmenopausal Women and Endometrial Cancer. Click the image to open the PDF

Postmenopausal Women and Endometrial Cancer

Fluctuating hormones and higher levels of estrogen can increase the risk for endometrial cancer

What Is Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer is a type of uterine cancer that develops in the inner lining of the uterus and is the most common cancer that affects a woman’s reproductive system.

Who Is at Risk for Endometrial Cancer?

Anyone with a uterus can be diagnosed with endometrial cancer, but most cases are found in postmenopausal women.

Why Postmenopausal Women Are High-Risk

Although ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone after menopause, estrogen is still made in fat tissue. This causes a hormone imbalance that leads to a higher risk for endometrial cancer.

Hormone therapy after menopause using estrogen alone without progesterone also increases the risk for endometrial cancer.

Some Common Risk Factors

  • Getting your period early or late menopause
  • Being overweight or having obesity
  • Having metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that put you at higher risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes
  • Having conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or taking medications, such as estrogen, that affect hormone levels
  • Never having been pregnant
  • Having Lynch syndrome

Did You Know?

Starting your period before age 12 or going through menopause later in life increases the risk of endometrial cancer because of the increased exposure to estrogen.

Some Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain or pressure

These are not all of the symptoms of endometrial cancer and they could be caused by other conditions. These symptoms could be easily overlooked, so it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any symptoms of concern as soon as they arise. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Methods of Diagnosis

  • Pelvic exam — An examination where a HCP carefully feels the uterus, vagina and ovaries to check for any abnormalities
  • Ultrasound — An exam that measures the endometrium thickness and uterus size
  • Tissue sampling —
    • Biopsy — A procedure that removes a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope
    • Hysteroscopy — The insertion of a thin, flexible tube with a light on it through the vagina so the HCP can view the lining of the uterus and take a tissue sample
    • Dilation & curettage (D&C) — A procedure to remove tissue samples from the uterus to examine for cancer cells

Treatment Options

  • Surgery to remove the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Survival Rate Disparity

Although women overall have a 95% chance of surviving endometrial cancer , a study found that Black women have a 90% higher five-year mortality risk compared to white women.

Anatomy of the Uterus

Fun Fact

The uterus is 3” long (in most non-pregnant women).

This resource was created with funding and support from Eisai Inc.



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