Effects of migraine
I lie curled up in the fetal position.
I wrap an ice pack around my head.
I anoint my head with oils, rubbed them gently, tenderly on throbbing temple. Lavender oil, frankincense oil, peppermint oil, these soothing unguents, an attempt to soothe my poor aching head. I massage them, too, onto my neck; there is a huge knot under my skin wound taut. My fingers move down to the top of my shoulders, there are knots here too. I moan in pain as I work the oils, trying to ease the tension there.
I have taken my medication. I lie still, oh, so still, press my head into an ice-pack. Perhaps redemption is in the ice’s chill. I place a heating pad on my shoulders and neck hoping the heat will penetrate, loosen the muscles. I take deep breaths, in, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, pause, out, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, start over; in and out. Focus on the breath, not the deep thrumming in my temples that also runs down behind my eyes, into my sinus, in my teeth.
A wave of nausea rolls over me, the ocean drowning me. I beg silently, plead, “don’t let me throw up, please God, don’t let me throw up.” I am motionless, waiting for this wave to crash and roll back to the sea, or it may have me up on my feet and leaning wretched over the toilet. “Not that, oh, please, not that.”
If I don’t move at all, not one teeny bit, breathe, focus, breathe; will it help? I start a quiet chant inside this brain, this brain that has betrayed me, wired so at least half of my life is an agony. “It’s okay; it will be okay, help me, Jesus, help me.” It becomes a hymn, a mantra, a life raft to cling to.
Dark and quiet
I block the light out; shut the door, too. I crave quiet and dark in this condition. Yet, the world carries on. I hear the lawnmower from next door. It roars to life, loud and grating; I smell the diesel fuel that it belches. The noise and odours make me cringe. They are an anathema when I am suffering. I hear the scream of a siren, wailing in the distance. Please, stop!
I wish for sleep, for the medication to kick in, to wake, perhaps with symptoms tamped down. Rest, sweet oblivion, I breathe in, and out. I feel my heart pounding, not slowing down. Anxiety creeps in, an ever unwelcome guest, “when will this end?” I know from long years of agonizing experience, the piercing of this affliction takes its time. It could be hours, it could be days. Breathe. Breathe. I gentle myself, whisper inaudible kindness, picture my Mother’s cool hands touching my face. Would that she was still here. The missing throbs too.
I hear Molly, our sweet dog come running into the room, she gets on the bed, curls into the curve of my legs. The comfort of her wee self is enormous. A companion, so lovely. The darkness rolls in, a temporary anesthetic, and I sleep.
Rhythm of my life
This is the rhythm, the beat of the drum, the dance of my life. I wait, always, for relief, for respite. I live in the in-between, knowing that in minutes or hours, it will drag me unwilling into the vortex of another migraine.
So, I want to live fully, when I am able. Let there be laughter, and joy, lunches with friends, and the celebrations of being alive, the good and the bad. No more missing parties, or lunch dates or special occasions of all kinds, even the difficult ones. I want to be useful; to be involved in meaningful service. To give and to make a difference.
I struggle with depression and anxiety, never knowing when a migraine will strike again. Some days it feels like it is too much. No more. No more. I want it to stop, desist, cease. Not to be controlled by the fear of the next attack. I want, I want, I want.
What I am learning is this: there is peace in acceptance. I have migraines. It is a biological disease. I cannot control it; I can work to mitigate it as much as is possible – I can keep on researching, keep on trying new remedies, do whatever is in my power to do. That is all. Beyond that, I can live in misery and be, and become miserable, and believe you me, I’ve been there.
Yet, I can choose to view my life as it is, and accept it, not resign myself to it. Resignation is passive, a giving up. Acceptance is viewing myself with compassion, and it says, this is me; I will choose to be kind to myself. Rest when I need to. If I have to disappoint people, I will learn to distance myself from any judgement that comes my way. There is nothing in me desiring to let my family, friends, or community down.
I have lived with guilt and shame for too long! I will peel, tug and wrest off the tentacles of guilt and shame, they do me no good. They only pull me deeper into despair. I will enjoy good days and make it through the not-so-good ones. Sometimes, I will take a time out to rest; see what the next few hours will hold. I will go into my dark and quiet room when it is too excruciating to carry on.
The Serenity Prayer holds strong encouragement for those of us who struggle. It carries comfort in its simple words:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”Serentiy Prayer