I took a short break from blogging — and life — due to severe illness (and panic attacks/hysteria). During that time I thought about what has been missed, and what is important in life. This is the story.
At the end of February a friend from my childhood approached asked if I would be interested in joining a fitness group on Facebook. Over the last six months I had lost around twenty pounds, but I am not what you would call “in shape” unless that shape is defined as “floppy”. So, thinking this might be a great way to reevaluate some old habits and improve myself, I said “Sure!”. The rules were simple: since we are all geographically scattered and have various weight loss and fitness goals, we could check in throughout March with ideas, thoughts, milestones, and even complaints. I liked the concept because I needed a reason to start taking better care of myself.
At the beginning of the month, we were encouraged to take a “before picture” to motivate ourselves to firm up those muscles and shed those extra pounds. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but I figured what the hell, why not be honest about myself? So I took a selfie showing my abs, or lack thereof. Ironically, this is one of my better selfies.
So after my “before” pic was out of the way, it was time to get the ball rolling on other fitness goals. I started making homemade smoothies chock full of spinach, kale, frozen fruits, ground flax and chia seeds, and almond milk. I planned meals for the family so we were all eating better, and I made sure I was sleeping exactly eight hours each night. I started to think about an exercise plan — maybe Insanity again…I was feeling motivated and ready to roll!
And then, the unthinkable happened. My migraines started to take over my life. Before I knew it, March whizzed by in a blur of ice packs, Ibuprofen bottles, and fragmented memories that may not have actually happened. My brain became so poisoned from the kindling (a term for repeated attacks of migraine that are not adequately controlled or treated) that I started to lose cognitive function. After several weeks of torture, the migraines broke me. On Tuesday, crumpled up on a chair and in tears, I voiced to my husband my resentment and fear that my migraines were shutting down my life. I would have to quit my job (the one I just started) and live out the rest of my days on the couch, in my bathrobe. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I fumed that I didn’t understand why a disease so brutal could exist, why so much time had been robbed from my life for no good reason. As I cried, I felt better for releasing guilt and anguish, but worse wasting what little energy I had left.
Exhausted and dejected, I cried all the way to the clinic, absolutely certain there was nothing that could be done. My husband had warned me that there wouldn’t be a magic pill waiting there to fix everything. But I have got to stop doubting my physician! After all, the man cut a skin tag off of my armpit so that I could shave it, he entertained my food sensitivity ideas (when they seemed to be keeping the migraines at bay) and he has never dismissed my concerns with condescending remarks about “women’s issues” like some male specialists I’ve dealt with. So when I showed up in his office with smeared makeup and a bitchy/dopey expression on my face, he said “Those are some nice shoes. Let’s talk about the headaches.”
I will spare you all the gory details because you don’t need to know everything, but: hormonal imbalance was (mostly) blamed, so we implemented a simple solution without a trip to the Army hospital (why I love my physician). Also, a shot of high potency anti-inflammatory in my right butt cheek killed most of the pain in my head, once the drug traveled through my system. I did squeal like a five year old getting immunizations, just for the record. By the time I left the clinic, I was still a bit loopy, but feeling better, and so grateful to have been taken seriously and offered a solution that was not invasive to my body or degrading to my sense of self respect.
I stopped at the mailbox on the way home and that turned out to be a brilliant decision. Van had ordered a special device for me from the Canadian company Cefaly, and it had finally arrived. I couldn’t wait to try it out before picking up the kids from school! I read the instructions and carefully placed the electrode on my forehead. Yes, you read that correctly. The Cefaly uses an electrode to send electric impulses into nerves that transmit pain sensation, particularly during a migraine. While using the device I thought about things. What had I been missing in life? What was important? What had I moved away from and traded for thing that weren’t as important? What did I want back? And what was I willing to work for, and even fight to regain?
Having chronic migraines is infuriating. When I get sick from them, I get really sick, and I feel like I become a super paranoid, slightly psychotic version of me. For the last few weeks the headaches were so bad that I couldn’t turn on my computer and type, or even read another blogger’s post. I missed you Jamie Ray, and can’t wait to read about Gracie’s adventures (got the e-mail and saved it)! I struggled to get dinner on the table for my very patient and loving family. You guys are awesome for caring and being kind to me while I was a basket case, and I owe you strawberry rhubarb pie. The Facebook fitness group really didn’t know about my struggle, but was just there as a motivating and supportive force of nature, so thank you! I wish you all the best and hope to see you all accomplish your goals. And a big hug to Ross the Dog, who never left my side the whole time I felt ill; love that furry buddy!
Because of how my illness has affected my life just recently, I have had time to think (and do little else) about what I want out of life. If my migraines have taught me anything, it is to never take for granted the time I am given. I must take advantage of the life that I have and live it as best I can! Oh, how I have missed so many things, but there is still so much to do!
I’m glad you are getting a couple of different approaches to the migraines – sounds like a miserable couple of weeks. That thing on your forehead looks like something out of the Jetsons. Does it work?
As brave as I can be in some situations, needles are my downfall – I have to take all my shots lying down (and if blood needs to be drawn I have to be horizontal) because there is a 50-50 chance I will faint, and it is embarrassing to fall out from a flu shot. I’ve needed various shots for traveling (in the arm), and each time I have had to tell a nurse that I need to lie down or else…
Hi there! It is so great to hear from you and be chatting again; I have missed our conversations! Slowly I am getting back to “normal”. I have to tell you, my dog gave me the funniest look the first time he saw me wearing the Cefaly device, the dog version of a double take. It does seem to be helping, although I do not believe there is such thing as any *cure* for migraines, only treatments. And over the years I have tried a lot of treatment options to control my headaches!
The shot was nice because I didn’t see it coming! I also hate needles. I fainted the first time blood had to be taken. I was only about 11 and my father encouraged me to watch the “really neat” blood swooshing into the tube. Ick, I just made myself feel faint thinking about it. Anyway, it’s good to be back on an uphill ascent. I am looking forward to visiting your blog next, and I am grateful for your kind thoughts.