My battle with migraines

“The cabin doors are closing, lets update our Facebook status one last time and send that text and tweet so we can get going.” – I do love a social savvy flight attendant! Something about humor that connects with my soul before signing off for the flight.  

As I left my house in the bitter cold early one Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past week. Heck, the past month. It’s been hard. Like, physically hard. I’ve had only a few instances like this in my life. Breaking my foot, getting E.Coli after a work trip, and the worst ever recovery from the stomach flu that left me not eating for a month. I’ve battled migraines since my teens. I began to worry that I was changing my status from random migraines to chronic suffering.

After my second 2-day migraine in under a week and 8th total in a month, I got myself in to see a doctor. She deemed me the proud owner of a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics for 14 days. I really liked her. She wanted to attack whatever was wrecking havoc in my face first and at the same time work on my sinuses and get the migraines taken care of. After learning that I should be able to pop my own ears, she decided I had some things not working to relieve the pressures of my sinuses. At that point, a guess of why I get migraines is like winning the lottery, even if it ends up being wrong. With some exercises to do and specific nasal spray to use, she sent me on my way with instructions that I should taste the spray when I use it. It’s not the most ideal and honestly, I try not to taste it when I take it. I’ve been taking it for a year straight because I thought it was helping my migraines but in no way have I been taking it so well that I’ve been tasting it. So 1/2 a point for me for taking the right thing, just really poor execution. That’s what I get for trying to self-fix. But if any of you suffer from migraines, you know how difficult it is to control or diagnosis. So you do what you can to continue on with a semi-normal life.

I was in an absolutely awful form of hell. No joke. Worse than when I was on bed rest for 6 weeks with a broken foot. But maybe not worse than The Stomach Pains of 2015. Those where pretty excruciating and left me not able to find the right fetal position to make them stop. I was like a caged animal. But the past month has left me unable to function 8 to 9 times. Some days I had to push through some activity or work to get to a place where I could crawl into bed with a heating pad and cold meds. I learned with the first one in December that cold & flu meds plus a heating pad had me almost good in just a couple of hours. That trick soon stopped working {much like any other self-medication I’ve found for migraines over the years, it always stops working eventually} and I was trying a combination of sinus related cocktails. Decongestants, cold & flu, nasal spray, allergy meds, and ibuprofen, water, and lattes for the caffeine. Sometimes {ok, every migraine day} going through all of them. On the other days I was popping cold & flu and decongestants to dull the headache. The strange thing is that I never had cold symptoms. I guess my sinuses are just cool like that.

As I was sitting on the plane last weekend, my ears basically popped for the first 40 minutes. I was incredibly grateful they were popping. I was kind of concerned, but never have a problem with my ears popping on a plane so I figured I’d be fine. I had a number of people concerned the plane would make it worse. I figured I had already experienced some really shitty days, so I’d just be dealing with it in a public place. Nothing I hadn’t done before. Hopefully the forced pressure changes helped me in the long run.

The physical hardships I’ve gone through have been enough to shake me up. I pick myself back up pretty quickly, I always do, but it’s been pretty hard mentally as well. When I get random migraines I experience a lot of mommy and wife guilt. Nine times out of ten, I get myself through the work day and pick up a kid. I get home and because it’s a little bit quieter {for short bursts of time}, my brain has space to realize how much my head hurts. And I give in. Rarely do I retreat to my dark bedroom, even though almost always do I want to. I usually set up on the couch, sometimes even closing my eyes for a bit and falling asleep for a few minutes at a time. Migraines don’t work around my schedule, they show up unannounced and always unwanted. I feel less guilt when my husband has plans for the evening. I crash on the couch until he leaves and then make it through to bedtime. Sometimes the boys watch way too many cartoons and other times I haul myself into the bathroom so they can take a bath before extended cartoons. It’s a crappy feeling to sit on the couch while chaos ensues around you and you do nothing.

Only a mommy guilt brain can make you feel worse when your spouse is home with you. I should feel better that he’s home and can pick up the slack while I try to take care of me. Instead, I feel worse that he HAS to pick up the slack and feel like everything he does is full of disdain and annoyance towards me. Every timeout he has to initiate, every meal he has to put together, every dish he puts away and counter he cleans, and the bedtime routine that all of a sudden becomes a solo act. Nevermind that most nights he handles the kitchen cleanup. Something about having a migraine makes me feel guilty for him doing something he does most nights.

I hate that my kids have spent countless breathes asking me if my head hurts. Or that after returning from a week-long trip, Quinten tells me after my head stops hurting we’ll do something. I’m at the end of my 14-day meds and it’s been a number of days since my last headache, but the last thing he remembers is me spending an entire evening and not going to work because I was in so much pain. I wish my kids didn’t know a life of chronic pain.

For all of you who suffer from some form of chronic pain, mental or physical, try to give yourself a break. Don’t put added pressure on yourself. It really is ok to just take care of you and make you better. Do what I say, not what I do! But I can tell you that sometimes when you have a migraine on a work trip and you’re stuck on Bourbon Street, you can take enough ibuprofen that it will eventually go away while you go from bar to bar with live music. You’ll eventually walk out onto the street and realize it’s gone! Making you feel like you’ve unlocked a special level in the world of migraines.

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My battle with migraines

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