Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Migraineur and The Smoker

My boyfriend is normally a wonderful, supportive source of migraine-friendliness. He's been willing and eager to change his hygiene products, his eating habits, and so many aspects of his daily life that I can't possibly record them all. Unfortunately, he has one habit that he's been alternately unwilling and unable to quit: cigarettes.

I don't like talking about my relationship with my boyfriend publicly. I don't even really talk to my friends about our issues. I prefer to deal with any trouble directly, so if I have a problem with him, I take it straight to him, with only rare detours via my mom or best friend. But, I can't take the smoking anymore, and I don't know what to do.

He only smokes outside, and he's stopped smoking around me at all, but if you know a smoker, you know how the smell lingers. If I go outside while he's smoking, or even within a several minutes of him putting it out, it smacks me hard, right upside my migraine. My heads rears up, and I have to hide inside and recuperate until the smell and the symptoms pass. We moved to the middle of nowhere to give me more freedom, and I still can't walk outside without fear of one of my worst triggers, because I brought it with me.

Maybe the reduction in overall triggers has spoiled me. I've gotten used to being able to take deep breaths, there's no noise out here, no pollution. So, what remains stands out to me more obviously.

I can't even hug him anymore without being afraid of the cigarette smell on him. It's emotionally devastating, on a bad day, to go in for a sorely needed hug, or even bring his hand to my face for affection or comfort, only to have it hurt me. Not being able to share affection takes a toll. He's been the one person who's been safe for me in all other respects, so feeling unsafe around him just aches.

This is damaging our relationship. He's tried to quit a few times, but he inevitably "cheats" and lets himself start back up again. I used to smoke, I know how hard it is to quit, the physical and emotional struggle of nicotine addiction can be almost painful to endure, and it seems like it goes on forever. I can empathize with the struggle, but it's been years now, and I can tell you all from personal experience, if a person really wants to stop doing something, they will. This is a choice he's making, and he's repeatedly making the choice that hurts me.

So, he smokes, we fight about it, he promises to quit every now and again, but nothing is resolved.

If he won't stop exposing me, the only way I can escape is to leave him.

But, that's also leaving my relationship of 13 years, and the only person who really knows what living with chronic migraines is all about.

My heart aches. I want to preserve my health, I want to be as well as I can possibly be. But, how much will I give up to avoid migraine? I've already lost work, family, friends, money, time... Will migraines take away my love, too?


Migrainista said...

I'm so sorry that you are facing this challenge. Cigarette smoke is a huge trigger for me too.

Heather said...

Will your boyfriend consider electric cigarettes? My father-in-law, a heavy smoker, moved in with us and I told him there would be no smoking in the house (or outside). We had to buy him all new clothes because I can't handle any cigarette smell. After a few days, he was going crazy from nicotine cravings so I went to a local e-cig store; you can also buy them online which I've done as well. The update I added to this blog post has some tips/brand suggestions:

E-cigs are expensive up front, but they're cheaper in the long run and you can even buy cartridges with high nicotine levels so the smoker will get the fix with fewer refills. I'd imagine your boyfriend would find this to be a good compromise. Good luck!