Adjusting to Life WITHOUT Constant Migraine

I always imagined that if I found relief for my migraines, I’d be over the moon and ready to take on the world. Instead, I am cautious and disoriented. It is difficult to believe the magnesium will keep working — or even that my current good spell is the magnesium at all. I wake up each day having no idea if I will have a migraine or a headache and, if I do, what level of pain I will be in. Migraine has been entirely dependable and I’m a bit lost now that I can’t count on it to always be present.

When I awoke around 5 a.m. yesterday to a level 5 migraine, I felt not exactly relieved, but sort of comfortable. Like, after a week of the uncertainty of different head pain and unusually low migraine levels, I was in a familiar place again. Not that I was happy to be there, just that there’s comfort in a well-known situation.

But even that comfort wore off as I realized I didn’t know what to expect from the migraine. Will it worsen? What symptoms will I experience? Will pain be a major factor? These are not questions I typically ask, but I have felt so much better the last few days that I was acutely aware of every aspect of the migraine and concerned what it might mean. The most worrisome question plaguing me was: Am I back to the place where migraine is my default state?

Before I began the mindfulness for health course I took four years ago, I met with the instructor privately for biofeedback. She mentioned that she had just gotten good news on medical test results, but didn’t want to get swept up in thoughts about the results. She said she “didn’t want to be tied to that outcome.” I was puzzled by this and didn’t really understand what she meant. As I have become more familiar with the practice of mindfulness, I have revisited that conversation, never more so than the last week as I attempt to grasp magnesium’s effect on my migraines. The idea is that the teacher could celebrate that she’d gotten good news, but didn’t want to assume that the news would always be good in the future or that her happiness was dependent upon the news always being good.

Not being attached to the outcome relates to the Buddhist idea of impermanence — a concept that I was heavily invested in just last month when the migraines and depression were wearing on me. I kept telling myself that although it felt like the misery would never end, it would eventually lessen. I reminded myself that my migraines had been better as recently as November and that they would lessen again. Now I’m working with the flip side of impermanence. Just because magnesium is helping me now, it may not always help. The fact that my migraines have lessened significantly in the last nine days does not mean I am out of the woods forever.

A friend asked if I was floating around the house in bliss when my pain was at a level 2. Well, I was cooking and dancing and marveling at how little pain I was in, but I was doing so with great care. I don’t trust that I’m going to continue feeling this good. I’m still afraid I’m going to discover that this good spell is an unrelated fluke and the magnesium isn’t really helping at all.

Please don’t think I’m ungrateful or that I’m not thoroughly enjoying this respite. I am uncertain is all. I’ve learned to live with severely debilitating migraine. The possibility that it might no longer limit me so much is overwhelming and seems a but suspicious. I don’t want to get too excited for fear of being let down. Though I dread being wishy-washy, the phrase “cautiously optimistic” captures my attitude exactly.