Thursday, April 17, 2014

37 Years of Denial, My Life with Migraine

So far I've navigated 37 of my 44 years down the river migraine.  I can't say its been a successful journey, but I can say that I have it better than many other sufferers.  So, complaining is right out.  It's my trial, and everyone has trials.

Lately I've been reflecting on life, as is normal for the person on the cusp of midlife.  With a bit of shock I have realized that I've lived "around" this disease.  Meaning, I subconsciously compensate for the inevitable downtime that will be forced upon me.   This is how it works:

  • The barometric pressure drops...I get a migraine.
  • My hormones fluctuate... I get a migraine.
  • I eat chocolate, red wine, raw onions, or, GOD FORBID, MSG... I get a migraine.
  • I finish a big stressful project... I get a migraine.
  • I exercise too much... I get a migraine.
Now, if it was just a day of headache pain, that would be one thing.  But as any migraine patient will tell you, there's the aura before, the pain and side effects during, and the hangover afterward.  It's the hangover that has become more challenging for me as I age.  I get foggy, sore, and my personality temporarily changes.  My mental filter malfunctions, and there's no telling what I'll say. 

Before now, I never considered myself  hamstrung, or restricted by this devil.  But let's take a look at reality vs. my interpretation of it.  The way I see it, I just quarantine myself as soon as the aura hits, take medicine, and carry on after about an hour.  No big deal, it hurts, but I can live with it.  But, here's the part I wasn't owning.  I have lived my life subconsciously dancing around the unavoidable.
  • I'm reluctant to commit to being places at a specific time.
  • I've chosen employment (or lack there of) that doesn't require strict clock-in/ clock-out times.
  • I hide from the world after headaches, for fear of saying something I wouldn't ordinarily say.
  • When taking on a big project, I prolong the intense stress.  Because, I know as soon as it lets up, the "let down" migraine will knock me out for days.  I just can't afford that time.
  • I rarely see movies with friends.  (Some visual inputs, particularly 3D movies, trigger them.)
Basically, I tend not to sign on to activities where I could let anyone else down.  But know this.   If I do promise to be somewhere or do something, I will do it, pain or no pain.  And, I'll do it well.  That is just as much a part of who I am as the headaches are!

Seems so obvious, and yet I just didn't notice it before.

So, there it is.  If you have migraines, you'll understand. 

I realize that this compensation isn't unique to me, or even to migraine patients.  There are many chronic hidden conditions that alter the way we conduct our lives.  So, the next time you can't understand why Joe or Jane is doing what they are doing, consider that you just don't know the problem around which they are working.  Live, and let live.  Hey, we're all in denial about something.

Peace!

1 comment:

  1. Chronic pain, no matter how it manifests, is one of the hardest things to cope with. It just wears you down.

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