Imagine: Migraine Awareness #6

I almost didn’t write a post for today. Aside from it being a busy, high pain, foggy sort of day, I haven’t really dared to think about the future.

Researchers do a great job discovering new treatments for diseases they understand. Migraine, like many other neurological disorders, just isn’t that well understood.

For the mental well-being of those with migraine, and other headache types, I hope for understanding.

Imagine if there was a test that clearly diagnosed what type of headache you have.

Imagine treatments designed specifically for different headache types instead of medicines that were originally designed to treat another disorder.

I know there are breakthroughs coming. There are trials of new devices and new drugs all the time.

I can also see by the work done by the wonderful people in our growing online migraine community that people are being reached.

While we wait for researchers and even our own doctors to find new ways to help us, we are making a difference.


Nothing Is Alone: Migraine Awareness #5

Over 18 years ago, my husband sang to me for the first time. He introduced me to new music, but even more, to the thrill of being serenaded. 

The song he sang was Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Nothing Is Alone.”

So very true! But not always obvious as it should be. I have days when surrounded by my family, I still feel isolated by a cloud of pain. A recent experience helped me to see through this seeming isolation.

It had been a rough few days. I was hurting and in a brain fog, but had exhausted my need for sleep. (Nice pun, eh?) We all had the day off and had spent it mostly together, but I hadn’t felt like going anywhere or doing anything.

Then I noticed my dog had a raging ear infection. I felt awful for not seeing it before and I felt I had to take her to the vet immediately. I left the house reluctantly; the vet was a 20 minute drive then a long wait for our turn.

Somehow, between petting my lovely lab and cooing over the other animals in the waiting room, I broke out of my fugue state. My furry one got the meds she needed and I got a dose of oxytocin from petting my pup.

I returned home and settled into hanging out in the living room with the family. Someone said something funny; I laughed. My husband noted that it was the first time he’d heard me laugh in over a day. (I live with some funny people; laughter is common in my house.)

It was a eureka moment. I was never alone, I just needed to let someone in.



Keep on Keepin’ on: Migraine Awareness #4

Keep onWe often seem to live as though we are moving from checkpoint to checkpoint through life.
As children we look forward to being teens; as teens to adulthood. As adults we move from college to establishing a career to marriage to parenthood. These milestones vary between individuals, but we all move forward through life with one or more of these in mind.

Then there are the goals we set to motivate ourselves between milestones: reaching a promotion, losing weight, saving money for a vacation.
When you suffer from chronic pain the milestones may be similar, but the goals must be adapted to your new capabilities. (I won’t say limitations because that creates an invisible barrier you feel you cannot cross.) My goals may be to make it through the month without missing work or to walk 15 minutes on the treadmill. I homeschool my girls, so one of my goals is to grade their work at the end of every day and to get them out of the house at least once a week.

Moving forward in life, I try to keep in mind that there is nothing that can prevent me from reaching the ultimate goal. Each day in my spiritual practice I pray to be filed with love for God.

As for my migraines, I keep on keepin’ on. God can do the rest.

Even Odds: Migraine Awareness Month #3

Trying to keep a balance

There are days when odds are my head pain and related symptoms are going to get me down. Some days I can even the odds for the day. Some things I do help me to work towards lowering the odds for the coming years, not just the coming days.

Things I do on a daily basis:

  • Take care in my meal choices, if I drank too much cola yesterday, I’d better watch it today.
  • Eat when I’m supposed to, not waiting until I finally feel hungry.
  • Lie down for a nap when the pain starts to creep up on me, don’t always weather the storm.
  • Keep the lights dim and the noise level low.

These sound like trivial details, but they add up to an altered life. How can you keep the lights dim while you expect the kids to get lessons done? How do you keep the noise level down but still spend time playing games with friends? I can’t always follow those simple rules. Life gets in the way.

While I’m busy balancing my illness and my life, there are some things I can do to help myself get healthier. While these won’t cure my disease, they may help with the severity and they may prevent symptoms from worsening or new symptoms from developing.

The things I strive to do (but may not always manage) for a healthy life:

  • Relaxation exercises my neurologist suggested. I’ve being doing this nightly and it has helped me to get to sleep at least.
  • Physical exercise, which is a big challenge. I’m not good at taking my exercise nice and easy, but my head can’t handle the pace I’d like to set. So this I am constantly struggling with.
  • Spiritual practice- this is one of the keys to my ability to cope.  I may be doing a small amount daily, but I try to keep God always in my heart and mind.

Truly these three things are beneficial to everyone, not just a migraineur.

The Mask I Wear: Migraine Awareness Month #1

I am a woman of many masks.

For you see, I am a different person depending upon who you ask.


For my husband I am an attentive wife, a partner in parenting, and especially, that one friend with whom you may discuss anything. The mask I wear in his company is the most transparent. Like the semi-clear plastic mime mask sold at Halloween. He can see through it to the pain and shame I try to hide. He alone seems to know the lengths to which I go to keep on going day to day.

For my children I wear the mask not only of mother, confidant, and friend, but that of school teacher and principle as well. Yes, there are days I wish I could call for a substitute, but as a homeschool mom the best I can do is assign older children to help younger or for them to watch educational television. The mask they see hides my fear that one of them will suffer as I have. It hides my worry that I’m not doing a good enough job teaching them. It fails though to hide my distracted mood. How could it possibly hide that I can no longer handle with ease long days at the zoo or a week filled with outings.

The mask my friends see only occasionally slips. It hides from them how I struggle to keep going during an afternoon visit. They may not always be able to see how I’d like to do more, to schedule more dates, but I can’t bring myself to plan ahead for fear of cancelling. It can’t hide from them my inability to concentrate in a crowded room or my withdrawal from group outings.

Ah, the mask that works the best is that of sales associate. My customers may sometimes see someone who is weary or has had a hard day. They don’t know that my shift only just started and I’m already tired, or that I’ll only be there for 4 or so hours because any more is too much.

Much of the time I’m able to maintain my smile and helpful nature.

Laughter though, is more rare.

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of