Update: Migraine more than tramping

It’s Te Araroa season again although the prolonged lockdown in Auckland since August has scuttled the plans of walkers heading south from Cape Reinga. I’ve been thinking a lot about the trail and Tony and I have been reliving our adventures by looking at the photos and reading the blog from a year ago, day by day. It’s the first time we’ve looked at the photos since we finished.

The rest of the 2021 after Te Araroa seems to have passed in an intense, exhausting blur, probably not helped by the tensions around COVID and lockdowns and vaccination statuses (I’m fully vaccinated, just nailing my colours to the flag). I’ve had periods of lots of migraines, and a few weeks of hardly any, complicated by a few months where I couldn’t understand why it was getting more and more difficult to run, then walk, uphill, to the point that even climbing one flight of stairs at home left me out of breath. Turns out I was anemic, which didn’t help the migraines either.

I picked up work almost immediately after finishing the trail, which comes to an end in January. After this, I’ve decided to take some time out, to reflect on the experience of Te Araroa, which was life-changing in many ways. The fact that we haven’t even found time to sort through our photos makes me realise that this will never happen unless I stop, and make it a priority. I also want to spend some time working on migraine issues. Not necessarily mine, but trying to give a voice for the thousands of migraine sufferers I know are out there in Aotearoa New Zealand, but are not getting the support from the medical profession, workplaces, families and society that they need. I write more about this here https://themedicinegap.co.nz/voices/dr-fiona-imlach/. I’ve teamed up with a couple of amazing women to set up a migraine advocacy group (check out our motivating leader Sarah at https://themedicinegap.co.nz/voices/sarah-chronic-migraines/) with the aim of reducing the burden of migraine disease in Aotearoa, through raising awareness, advocating for better access to medicines and supporting people affected by migraine. There’s a lot to do.

We’ll be doing some tramping next year, finally – we’ve only been on one overnight tramp since Te Araroa, which again shows how easy it is to get sucked into the grinding routine of regular life. We have done lots of walks in the Remutaka ranges in Wellington, clearing, resetting and rebaiting traps; putting out and retrieving acoustic recorders to check in on the kiwi there (and bats!) This is in service of the Remutaka Conservation Trust, a volunteer community group doing remarkable work in restoring biodiversity to the Remutakas. In the past nine years, the Trust has removed 921 mustelids, 15,553 rodents, 491 hedgehogs and 1,259 possums from the park. With more coming every year. Again, there’s a lot to do!

Here’s to 2022, and may it be a freer, friendlier year… Happy Christmas.

2 thoughts on “Update: Migraine more than tramping

  1. Very interesting your page on the Medicine Gap. Sarah’s statement about relating to epilepsy in that a person has epilepsy even if they don’t have a seizure I relate to as I am an epileptic and it has impacted my life. But considering how much more funding and focus there is on epilepsy then migraines I have now for the last 10 years being seizure free. Something I never thought would ever happen. Keep your hope Dr Fiona. I always hoped new medicines might come through and get funded. Eventually it happened for me. I just wish there was just as much focus on migraine research, treatment and support as there is for epilepsy.


    1. Thanks simone- people with migraine and epilepsy have our special brains in common! 🧠 😀 it’s very encouraging to hear your story and know that there is hope and we can find solutions for these neurological conditions


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