Saturday, April 16, 2011

Church Hopping

Is church one of your triggers? How do you handle it if church has some of your Migraine triggers? There are many reasons I need to go to church and don't want to give up on it. Besides, where else is a better place to go to pray for my Migraine family?

My church changed over to those demonic Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs a while back and I have been trying to decide what to do about it since. On the 'bright side', at least my church doesn't have the funny smells that churches can have all of the time. This usually only happens around the big holidays when they spread the extra scents around.

There are a total of twelve big light fixtures in my church with SIXTEEN painful CFL bulbs in each fixture! These fixtures line both sides of the church going from the front alter all the way to the back. I have been trying to find the best way to handle this situation.

The first way I tried to manage church was by finding the best place to sit in my church. Normally when I enter any room, the first thing I do is to take a quick scan of the room to look for shadows in the room and check to see where the lights are in the room. With so many lights lining this church, there weren't any shadows so what I needed to try to do is to find the best balance of the lights for me.

I started by trying to find that correct right/left balance of lighting. Before doing this experiment, I thought I could handle more light on my right side than on my left, but that I would have to be careful because if I got a light induced Migraine on my right side, it would be harder to treat than a left sided Migraine. After my experimenting, I still believe it is easier for me to treat a Migraine on my left side than on my right, but I am more confused about the side to side light balancing.

In the beginning of this testing, I sat all the way on the left side so the lights were on my right. After about ten to fifteen minutes, I knew I wouldn't have been able to last the mass if I didn't do something quickly. Luckily, there wasn't anyone sitting in my pew and I was able to slide down the pew which gave me a different lighting on my left and right sides. I spent a few weeks trying to find that right place to sit across the pews.

Next, I needed to try to find that front and back lighting balance. With so many lights in the fixture, it was difficult not to have a direct visual line to the devilish bulbs. After locating the best place to sit, which is not ideal, I had to start coming up with other alternatives.

It was a hard choice to start looking at other churches because this was the church we have gone to since we moved to this town over a decade ago. It is the church my boys finished getting the sacraments they should have up to this point in their lives. I decided to try out some of the other churches in the area.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side. I actually thought I was in heaven when I checked out one church. In the preliminary scan, there were many shadows so I went to the darkest area. I quickly found out that these shadows were very deceiving and didn't provide any protection from the lighting. Not only that, but just before mass started, they turned on more lights! Nope, this would be the last time I went to this church.

Another church I went to was like grand central station. People were coming into the mass all the way up until communion! Not to mention there was no getting away from these lights as the church was extremely narrow. The other issue was that the acoustics were at a level that would break eardrums. Not good for sensitive Migraineurs.

There is one possibility that I did find. It is actually the sister church to my church where it is less than a mile away and we share the same priests while we try to keep our own identities. Sometimes this smaller church will be asked to go to functions at my current church especially when it is a bigger event that for some reason, they can't spread it between the two churches.

This smaller church has small light fixtures where I can't even see the bulbs when I try. I still have to balance the lighting when I choose where I need to sit, but that's not as difficult as my current bright church. One test week, I also found out that I need to be careful of sunny days because of the way the sun shines through the stain glass windows. I altered where I sat after that.

I have been going back and forth between these two churches lately and still have about two more churches, that are not too far away, I can try out. My real test will be next weekend; Easter Sunday. I will broach the subject of going to this different church with my boys and see what their reaction is like. They don't always like change and there was always that little competitiveness between churches growing up, but I know that they would go along with whatever I thought would be best for me. They are really terrific boys; I mean young men.

I think church hopping has been a good experiment along with trying to find the best place to sit given where the lighting is placed and the type of bulbs that are used. It's tough adjusting your spiritual world when everything else seems to be turned upside down too.



WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Wow, does anyone at your church know it created such an issue with you? Maybe they could create a fluorscent free zone in a corner for you??

MigrainePuppet said...

Winny - I've started to write an email to my pastor a couple of times, but have not sent it yet. I want to find the right words and also find myself wondering how others, including epileptics, deal with the lighting. I like the idea of a fluorscent free zone which is similar to things I've done at work in the past.

Migrainista said...

Would it help you to wear a hat and/or sunglasses? I really feel for your situation, finding the right church can be tough, doing so and needing to take into account the lighting situation makes it that much harder. Good luck to you.

MigrainePuppet said...

Thank you Migrainista. Currently, I end up bowing my head a lot to shadow my eyes or cupping my eyes when we kneel. It's funny how no one wears hats in church any more. I've been looking for a hat I could wear in church, but haven't found one yet. I'll keep looking though.

Heather said...

The thing that bothers me is PERFUME! I don't know why everyone has to bathe in perfume before going to church. I even go to the contemporary service where people wear jeans instead of dressing up, and they still wear lots of perfume.

I'd say it can't hurt contacting the pastor or trustees/facility committee about changing the bulbs. I'm thinking of asking to put a note in the bulletin about not wearing perfume to church.

MigrainePuppet said...

I think you should put a note in the bulletin and perhaps contact your pastor or trustee/ facility commitee too. With so many sensory issues anymore, I don't see why they allow perfume around anymore, but they should at least have one service that is scentfree. I've continued with my letter to my pastor, but I haven't sent it yet.