Written by Kristen Estep for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.

I thought that I was going to get to see everyone this year but, I ultimately chose to attend Retreat Migraine (RM) virtually again. Which made me sad, but the virtual option was better than not going at all. I can’t wait until April, for the next RM!

For those who didn’t attend either in person or virtually, I wanted to share some of the virtual experience with you. I am part of the ECHOmmunity, therefore my experience started Thursday evening. ECHO stands for the Education Council of Headache Online, and is a series of webinars that teach us how to better manage/communicate/moderate our online platforms and communities. It is sponsored by CHAMP, Amgen and Novartis. We were invited to a special reception for being a part of ECHO, and because I attended virtually ECHO sent me an amazing snack box! I was able to watch the presentation, in real time, and hear about the next steps for ECHO 201. I am super excited for the next part of the program!

The first day of RM began in the virtual lobby where everyone was able to say hi and introduce themselves. While I didn’t go on camera, it was great seeing others and hearing their migraine stories. Then we moved into the welcome presentation and heard some personal stories from migraine warriors, including CMA’s Erica Carrasco’s son Noah (who did great)! Our next session, as virtual attendees we were able to choose which session we preferred to attend, was either Migraine at Work or Migraine at School. We closed out Friday night with Adriane Dellorco’s Yoga on the go. Phew, I don’t know about you guys but I am out of shape! I participated, mostly, from my office at home and worked up a good sweat lol!

Saturday was packed full of virtual sessions that ran all day long. The first part of the day began with support groups, then we moved into a cooking demo from Alicia Wolf. Boy, don’t you wish smellovision was real? I do!! There were three different presenters talking about migraine symptoms. For me, it is very nice to hear that my symptoms are legit, how about you guys? The next few sessions, I had trouble connecting virtually but am excited to be able to go back and view them. I was, however, able to see CMA’s Catherine Charrett-Dykes craft time where she showed us how to make beautiful paper Lotus flowers! For the virtual attendees, there was a game up next, Trivia! I participated on team Brainiacs along with three other players & guess what? We won 1st place!! Saturday wrapped up with a Pajama party which I only was able to stay awake for part of, I live in Ohio so it began at midnight. There was a huge surprise during the party, singer/songwriter Allie Sealey performed live singing the song she wrote about her migraine disease. I don’t know about you, but I need that song as a sound I can readily play when I receive unsolicited advice 😄.

Sunday, I personally had a rough day so I will need to go back and watch the sessions when Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients (CHAMP) has them ready. The virtual sessions included Patient and Care Partner; Caring for one another, Lily’s Think, Talk, Treat Migraine program  and community member stories. I also missed the closing announcements unfortunately. Being virtual has its upside –  you can go back and watch the presentations you missed. If I had been there in person, I know that I would have pushed myself too far and participated. I am anxiously waiting for all of the sessions to be available online!

I am looking forward to seeing everyone, in person at RM in April! Until then, remember to make yourself a priority and practice selfcare. You deserve it!

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