Good Intentions

We’ve all had headaches. As a shared experience, everyone has some understanding of the pain a headache sufferer must endure. As such, this leads to my hearing many anecdotes about others’ migraines, concussions, stress headaches, and even back pain. Along with the story always comes some sort of advice.

Often this advice comes in the form of have you tried “x”? Such as:
Excedrin
Vitamin d
More activity
Less activity
Chiropractic
Yoga
Essential oils

My favorite suggestions that I haven’t tried come from a very kind Indian couple that has adopted us as a second family. He has a special blend of teas for me to try, plus a daily dose of saffron. Her advice is yoga, specifically a head stand.

The great thing about all of these ideas is that they really do help with some types of headaches. Even more important to remember is that each of these ideas comes from someone who cares enough to share their wisdom.

Other times there is less advice and more admonishment. It goes something like “I had a sinus infection, and I didn’t miss work.”
Or there’s another type of encouragement: “I used to get migraines, they quit when I hit menopause.” (I’m too young to look forward to menopause.)

So what should you say to a headache sufferer?
I’m not entirely sure myself. We all get uncomfortable and tongue tied when faced with another’s disability. Just be supportive. Feel free to offer your advice, but don’t be disappointed if it isn’t taken. Last, but not least, offer your support with a willing ear to listen and shoulder to lean on.
Oh, and a steaming cup of hot tea.

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Sometimes you just need to indulge.

I’m five days into a bout of severe pain. I expect it to ease some any time, these usually don’t last this long. In the mean time I’m stuck coping.

For the first day I went on about life as thought nothing was wrong. I may have been a bit slower to get things accomplished and quicker to get stressed, but I got by. This is a coping mechanism we all use consistently. It may even be inherited from out ancient ancestors. In a world of survival of the fittest, one wouldn’t want to appear weak. You can only go on like this for so long, though.

Pain is exhausting. It drains your energy for both physical and mental activity. Reading is one of my favorite past times, but the headache renders it un-enjoyable at least and impossible at worst. A good audio book or podcast helps keep me from feeling to out of touch in the literary world.(I just finished listening to Life of Pi by Yann Martel; it was excellent.) Eventually, even paying attention to a story or podcast is too much.

That’s when it’s time to indulge. Time to set aside responsibilities:

  • The girl’s lessons – we can catch up later, besides that’s what big sisters are for, tutoring counts right?
  • House work – it’s a never ending job, it will be just as never ending tomorrow too
  • My job – they won’t be missing anything by me not coming in today, I feel like I’m barely coherent

I’ve tried over the past few weeks to kick the nap habit and pay more attention to my responsibilities. Today was not a good day for that. Today I indulged in a nap. When you are in constant pain, sleep is a welcome relief. Sometimes it’s hard to get, but eventually it comes.

Sometimes the pain lasts and lasts, and alas, you can only sleep so much. Then my indulgence changes locale. Instead of my bed, I choose a comfy spot on the couch, dim the lights, and put in a movie. If necessary, I then put in another movie. Here’s a link to a list of some of my favorites. You’ll notice they are all pretty calm and quiet, just right for dozing. Any suggestions to add to the list? Let me know in the comments.┬áBetween the pleasant distraction of the movie and the time spent dozing I find some relief.

 

That’s what coping is all about. Finding enough relief that you can live your life even in the midst of pain. It may take some hours or days of indulgence, but as long as I am there for my family in between, I’m getting by okay.