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For a Few of My Favorite Things




I have had these three sayings in my head this week:

1.  Patience is a virtue (this is especially when your in pain);
2.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; and most importantly
3.  Write what you know

So I am writing what I know and feel.

I think the title of this blog might be deceiving. These aren't just things I love; they are the things I need. These are the items I put in my survival guide. They are my map to managing my life living with chronic migraine disease.

Chronic migraines are not just headaches and having someone demean them as such is adding insult to injury. Migraines are a neurological disorder and the “headaches” are merely a symptom. The best analogy I have heard is that headaches are to migraines as seizures are to epilepsy. Chronic migraines sufferers have 15 or more headaches a month. Last month I had a headache 25 out of 31 days. Technically it was the same headache that kept coming back, but it was debilitating none-the-less.

Everyone has something in their life that they deal with. It can be financial, emotional, or physical. But normally when you are in physical pain or have an illness it is acknowledged. Migraine sufferers often suffer in silence. If you have never had that kind of pain you cannot imagine how a headache can pulverize your entire body. It is amazing how light, sound, smell, and even breathing can seem like activities that may end your life. The hard part is that unless you are hysterical crying, pale, or passing out while you are having an attack no one would notice. You don’t seem sick. Once you mention you are not feeling well a common reaction is: “you have a headache again?”. Um, actually it never went away but thanks for asking.

Migraines are very misunderstood. Even the people who love you and live with you and try will never truly understand. It is an isolating disease. But it is a real disease.

An individual attack may last anywhere from a few hours to several days. If you are lucky you can break the pain for a while. Migraines are not just painful they are also dangerous. They cause many side effects like numbness, depression, panic attacks, and insomnia. The worse causes are when the pain cannot be broken with your normal pain regiment because then you are at risk for a stroke.

Suffering from migraines means unexpectedly missing out on your life. It means missing work, birthday parties, weddings, and even everyday chores like laundry that you didn’t know you would take for granted.

The commercial on this page says it all. Every time I watch it I get chills and tear up.


The things I miss most are: reading, writing, and of course blogging. You will notice when there are big gaps in my postings. That is when I am sick, not for lack of material. It is like is knife through my heart. But then there are the mundane things I miss like showering and making coffee. Sadly when you are in that much pain, you don’t move unless you have to. My friend said she would rather go through natural childbirth than have a migraine even while on pain medicine. I will take her word for it.


During an attack you cease being yourself. I actually didn’t even fully realize how much until recently. After a while you sort of get use to the haze from the pain and medication. Then all of a sudden there is a ray of a light. It is like someone has lifted a rock off of you and your true energy is free. It is in these rare and precious moments when you get to be pain free and be yourself once again, you grasp what this disease robs you of on a daily basis.

It is in dealing with chronic migraines that I have decided to write this blog, which I feel, is my most personal to date. This is as bare bones as it gets. When I am at my worst, when I am trying to get through I have heard that deep breathing and visualization techniques can be helpful. I try to distract myself with things that relax me, that make me smile.

You know: a few of my favorite things.


Alcatraz

Alcatraz is my Disneyland. No seriously. I left there with two shopping bags worth of souvenirs. The very first time I tried to calm myself this was the first vision that immediately popped into my mind. It stayed there as I talked myself down from that attack. I love the history of the place. I see beauty in it. I also love that there is now a series based on it. It is one of my most favorite things. If I were Julie Andrews I would sing about it for sure. 



San Francisco Seals

San Francisco is clearly one of my favorite places as my top two favorite things are from this city. The seals on the piers are incredible. There are thousands and you can hear them barking from miles away. I loved watching them climb on top of each other. With Alcatraz in the background, it was a perfect setting. When I try to relax, I close my eyes, count to ten, picture the seals, and I can hear them barking like they are sitting next to me. 



Levi Kreis "Gonna Be Alright"

Levi Kreis has already been featured in a previous blog but his music is so crucial in my life he has a place on this list as well.  This particular song has the greatest meaning to me. There are times I hear it and cry. Other times I am singing my heart out and I feel empowered and on a high. Either way it is always a great inspiration and comfort. I was lucky enough to get a call on my 30th birthday last month from Levi singing me a version of this song. It is one of my very favorite things, moments of my life, and soother of suffering.




Travel/Photography

This lobster tail is the first I have had and it was from San Francisco. The above picture is of Oak Alley Plantation in New Orleans. New Orleans is another heaven on earth for me. I have grouped them together because travel, food, and photography are one and the same for me. They are the places I go both physically and mentally for happiness. I can still feel them in my soul. There are the places where pain doesn't exist just peace and the things I love most. There are many favorite things within each of these places and topics. 


Golden Girls

This has always been one of my favorite shows. I can re-watch each episode over and over again and still laugh at the same points. It also speaks to the heart of real life problems. Thank God for the Hallmark Channel who is replaying it every evening. As I fall asleep apart of me feels like I am in that kitchen having a piece of cheesecake with the ladies. 

These are clips of my two favorite episodes, always good for a smile.







Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s “Make It Happen” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I love the message and the beat. I can listen to it over and over again. When I am listening during a migraine attack and using the song as a relaxation tool these are the lyrics I focus on and the words I will leave you with:

“Not more than three short years ago
I was abandoned and alone
Without a penny to my name
So very young and so afraid
No proper shoes upon my feet
Sometimes I couldn't even eat
I often cried myself to sleep
But still I had to keep on going
Never knowing if I could take it
If I would make it through the night
I held on to my faith
I struggled and I prayed
And now I've found my way

If you believe in yourself enough
And know what you want
You're gonna make it happen
(Make it happen)
And if you get down on your
knees at night
And pray to the lord
He's gonna make it happen
(Make it happen)

I know life can be so tough
And you feel like giving up
But you must be strong
Baby just hold on
You'll never find the answers
if you throw your life away
I used to feel the way you do
Still I have to keep going
Never knowing if I could take it
If I would make it through the night
I held on to my faith
I struggled and I prayed
And now I've finally found my way

I once was lost
But now I'm found
I got my feet on solid ground
Thank you Lord
If you believe within your soul
Just hold on tight
And don't let go
You can make it happen
(Make it happen)”


For the tools for "Making it Happen" and coping with migraines, here are some helpful sites:


http://www.montefiore.org/services/headache_center/

http://www.headaches.org/




Comments

  1. Now I am speechless as usual.

    Only know that I am here for you and will do my
    best to get you through the rough spots. A parents heart breaks every time they can not help their child in pain. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am sorry you have and may still go through so much pain. I love that you have experiences that take you to a happy place when you don't feel your best. Food, travel, events, people always make difficult times good. Just know you are one of the people I think about when things aren't going well and I always feel better. Now get better we got places to go, things to eat, people to see (even if they passed a hundred or more years ago).

    ReplyDelete

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