Tagged: husband

Miss Migraine: A summer retrospective

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. A version of this post appeared first on my blog of the same name on August 20, 2012. 

In many ways, this has been a terrible summer. The weather was awful, my best friend in the entire world is going through some awful shit, my mom and one of her friends got into a motorcycle accident (my mom’s okay, her friend is still in the hospital with major injuries), my husband’s migraines increased from infrequent to multiple times per week, and the severity of mine have been steadily increasing.

I’ve been traveling constantly: Vietnam in the beginning of May; Maine at the end of June; Florida this week; plus three trips to visit my in-laws in Northeastern PA, five hours away from Pittsburgh; and two trips to visit my best friend and my parents in Southeastern PA, also five hours away. I’ve loved every single one of these trips, but I’m tired, worn out.

Simpsons Itchy and Scratchy Wheel of Pain

Photo by Flickr user jennifromtheblock, used under Creative Commons license.

Over the weekend, I had the worst migraine of my life. I felt like I was dying, like my right eye was slowing pushing its way out of my head. Thankfully, I had felt it coming on and taken a Maxalt, which knocked the pain down to a bearable level. I had to take another one later in the day, but at least I avoided a trip to the ER (which I was sure was going to be necessary).

Saturday, with the postdrome euphoria I sometimes get, I was able to begin preparing for my trip to Florida. But on Sunday, another bad migraine hit me and I was stuck on the couch with an ice pack to my head most of the day, having exhausted the week’s limit of abortives.

It’s easy to feel depressed. How am I going to make it through my trip this week? How am I going to make it through the semester, when classes start next week and I’ve been spending so much time on the couch? How can I do anything when I feel this way?

But in many ways, this has been a wonderful summer. I got to go to Vietnam. I climbed a mountain with my husband, and a few shorter ones with him and the dogs in Acadia National Park in Maine. I’m going to Florida for a Star Wars convention, which is just about my most favorite thing, ever. I got to spend so much time with both of my families and some of my closest friends.

Remembering these things doesn’t make the pain any less real, any less present in my life, but it does make it less significant. So the severity has been increasing. That only means I still have work to do in order to get where I want to be — like with any other goal in life. And I’m good at working toward my goals.

Miss Migraine: Understanding limitations

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. A version of this post appeared first on my blog of the same name on June 2, 2015. I wanted to share this again now because I’ve been in a bad migraine cycle on top of having a full-to-bursting schedule. This go-round, though, I’m making sure to fit dog walks in no matter what, because they really DO make me feel better.

“You jump into things without thinking about how much work they’ll be.”

That’s what my partner said to me one morning. “Give me an example,” I said.

“I do most of the dog walking.”

Okay, stop. What? I’ve had dogs my entire life. I have been walking them for almost as long.

My partner’s statement made me feel like he thinks I’m not willing to do the work required to take care of our dogs. Like bringing these animals into our lives was some whim, because I saw a cute puppy in the pet store window and thought it would make me more attractive or something.

(Just to be clear, our dogs are not from pet stores. Pet store dogs often come from puppy mills, where the mothers are bred over and over again until they die. The people who run puppy mills don’t pay attention to things like the suitability of the dog for breeding, they just want to make money. My corgi is from a responsible breeder and our German shepherd is a sort-of rescue.)

My corgi Lexi sniffing the air.

Lexi is sniffing the air at the dog park (Dec. 5, 2012).

I adore my dogs. Every day I look forward to coming home to their excited greeting and unwinding from the day by taking them for a good long walk. With one rather large caveat.

Enter chronic migraine land.

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), I have a horrible migraine, and walking becomes incredibly painful. Each step is like a hammer blow to my head. So yes, my partner does a lot of solo dog walking.

To be fair, ninety-nine percent of the time he understands my limitations and gladly takes on extra work so I can rest. But when he gets tired or has a headache himself, he sometimes lashes out at me–because my migraines are just as frustrating to him as they are to me.

When he says things like that, even if he doesn’t really mean it, it plays directly into my guilt and self-doubt over the fact that I can’t do any kind of physical anything without getting a migraine (thankfully, this has changed in recent years, thanks to a change in medications and a lot of hard work on my part).

I often feel like I don’t deserve to have dogs. Or own a home. Or be a writer. I feel like I’m not good enough, because there’s a brick wall (migraines) between me and the thing that prevents me from engaging fully.

Intellectually, I know it’s silly to think about things in terms of deserving them or not. I can only do what I can do. My partner knows that. And a majority of the time, he respects that.

But it’s hard and frustrating for both of us when we feel that I’m not able to pull my own weight.

How do you react when family members accuse you of not doing enough?

Miss Migraine: A gratitude post

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. A version of this post appeared first on my blog of the same name on September 5, 2012.

First, I am grateful for words, for language. I am grateful for the skill and intuition to shape them into meaning, into beauty, into stars, into beginnings, endings, middles. I am grateful for narrative, for storytelling and all the forms it takes, for the comfort it brings me, for the comfort I hope to bring to others through it. I am grateful for language in all its unspoken forms: the way the body speaks through movement, through touch; the way birds sing to each other as the sun spills above the horizon; the ways bees dance to guide each other to pollen.

purple morning glories

Morning Glories. Photo taken 09/12 by Kelly Lynn Thomas.

Second, I am grateful that my favorite flower, the purple morning glory, returned to the empty lot across the street from my house this year. Their vines twist upward around the links in the broken fence, flowers spreading themselves wide for the dawn, curling up to rest in the afternoon heat. There’s is the truest purple, the most beautiful color, I have ever seen. And I am grateful to look at them day after day, to touch their silken petals and whisper praise, to feel them singing to the sun — not with voice, but with color. That song touches me on its way to the sky, and I feel renewed.

Whole wheat waffles with whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries

Homemade whole wheat waffles, made by my husband.

Third, I am grateful for my home, which is not a place, per se, but a state of being. Home is my husband, my dogs, my family living 300 miles away. Home is waking up to my husband making my favorite whole wheat waffles before I leave for a long trip. Home is returning to our house, the place we physically inhabit, to one wagging tail and one wagging nubbin, and one all-encompassing hug. Home is feeling safe, free from pressures and responsibilities; home is the ability to restore my spirit among the people who love me. Homemade waffles help, too.

This post was inspired by the book Freeing Yourself From Anxiety by Tamar Chansky, which I reviewed here previously. What are you grateful for?

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