I suffer from chronic migraines. I have had these migraines on and off since I was around 8 years old. I remember sitting in crippling pain in my year 5 class crying my eyes out and feeling utterly pathetic – soon after I lost my vision and was escorted to the sick bay to be collected by my mum.
Mum knows how to deal with migraines – she’s had this life long affliction, too. She would take me into the lounge, close the red velvet curtains and shut the midnight blue blinds. She’d strip me down, often to the sound of my protesting! But as my fever peaked it was important I’d keep cool. A cold flannel clutched to my throbbing head and careful guidance to everywhere that I needed to go. I would vomit, and throw myself around for hours on end. I would wail with pain. I can only imagine how heart breaking it must have been for her to see me that way.
Over the years I learnt how to migraine for myself. Stripping myself down and jumping into a luke-warm shower, curling up under the streaming water and crying in agony until it passed.
And it does always pass.
The blood boiling pain, the vision loss, the gut ache, the tingling. It stops.
Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes days, but it does eventually stop.
And then I can sleep.
At least… In an ideal world I can sleep.
In the real world I have responsibilities to fulfill, a life to live and people to try not to disappoint.
After weeks of migraines messing up my sleep patterns and a hefty dosage of 6 month old baby, there’s a lot of times I am too exhausted to sleep. How unfair is that?!
I can’t always make to that thing we’ve been planning for weeks, and sometimes I can’t even use the phone to tell you so.
I can’t be the reliable friend/colleague/person that I truly wish I could be – and I promise you it’s more inconvenient for me than it is for you.
I would love to be able to keep my life so tightly controlled that I never connect with one of the many triggers that hide around every corner, and in truth you’re right – I shouldn’t be eating this potato chip or drinking this kombucha, but I don’t know what will trigger me today, it might be the sound of a train or the smell of donuts, and I’m sick of living in that fear, so please don’t mention it.
I’m sick, I’m tired, I’m doing my very best – and on the days that I’m not completely run down I am living in fear of doing too much and triggering another series of migraines.
I’m not sorry for looking after myself – but I am so sorry that it has an impact on your life, too.
Especially you, nearest and dearest.
I can handle disappointing bosses, skipping things that are for my enjoyment, but when I miss that family dinner, or my son can’t go swimming because I’m too sick to take him – that hurts. I can’t begin to explain how much. And that guilt doesn’t fade very easily.
Thank you for being patient.
I really am doing the best I can