Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Navigating Migraines

It’s been a year since I first received the my cluster-eff diagnosis. I know this because I received the call to schedule my now-annual MRI. To say I am confident and will go in without a slight bit of trepidation and fear would be a lie. Each headache is a reminder of what I have and the potential outcome as a result. It doesn’t help that I’d had a recent migraine that lasted 10 days. T-E-N days?!? Perfect storm of barometric pressure change and hormonal shift. I’ve become quite adept at living with my head pains, even having what I call working-migraines.

“Can you describe what you feel, Bianca? What is it like? I think I might have had migraines, but I don’t know.” Sure! Here’s what mine feel like:

Have you ever had that sore head pain after you’ve been sick for a while? Or that head pain you get when you are sick and you’ve been sleeping a whole lot? Or maybe you have residual pain from a head injury?

Have you ever accidentally had a jolt of electricity sent to your body during a physical therapy session? That stabbing and burning heat filling your body and you feel paralyzed.

Have you ever seen fireworks up real close? All of the bright colors bursting around, like they are within arms reach. That feeling of emerging from a dark movie theater in the middle of the day?

Have you ever turned on your car radio and someone turned the volume at the loudest? That scare you get from the noise and the pain in your ears?

Have you ever eaten something rancid? That churning in your tummy and it takes everything you have to not get sick.

All of those things all of the time. But I failed to mention the guilt. All of the guilt I carry with me for having a short temper with my daughters and my Beloved. For trying to smile, unconvincingly to my friends, when I force appearances just to share time with them. For the sudden eruptions of tears at inopportune moments just because of the pain is so excruciating.

I don’t take Imitrex unless I just can’t take it any longer and I have nothing else planned for 72 hours. When I take it, I become numb, a zombie, my vertigo kicks in higher, and I lose time. Literally, I sleep. If I’m awake, I don’t remember. To get through life—achieve a working migraine, I take an Advil Migraine in the morning. It still makes me loopy, but not as much. I drink lots of extra water. This makes me pee more, but the hydration helps.  I load up on caffeine. My brain is having the rave of all raves. Caffeine helps to keep it at bay. I force runs. The endorphins and deep breathing help me to regulate blood flow. They aren’t spectacular fast runs. But if I can make it out to do the run, then I will feel a little better. I focus on my favorite things. They make me smile. I surround myself with understanding loved ones. My girls bring me ice packs for my head. They try to soft massage me. I can hear their discussions from the other room shushing one another because “Mommy has a head-ick.”

If you are someone who likes to have a plan, whether it be for the day, week, month, year…well, migraines are not for you. They make you a more spontaneous person. Not only in the negative ways--because you have to stop all of the things you may have planned, but in the positive ways—when you feel your best, you stop all of the things you may have planned and you take an afternoon to go lay on a blanket with your daughters to watch the clouds on a sunny day, go for ice cream, and let them shriek and laugh and giggle and talk as loudly as they want to because your brain is cooperating.

This wasn’t a light-hearted post and it has interrupted the giveaway posts. ha! But I wanted to have it written down so I would remember for this time around next year.

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