Hart: How do you feel now?
Kerrie: You know, it’s not too bad. It’s like a hot steel rod is poking through my left temple and out my eyebrow.
Hart: Um, not many people could fathom how that description would constitute “not too bad.”
My entire head wasn’t throbbing and the brain fog and fatigue were slight, so the sensation of a metal poker wasn’t a big deal. As far as migraines go, it was pretty mild.
And that’s another thing Hart has called me out on recently — the idea that any migraine could ever be mild. Compared to the migraines that are strongest in my memory, the ones I’ve had lately are positively benign.
The perspective that allows me to classify a migraine as mild is one I’d prefer to never have gained, though now that I’m through the worst days (for now, at least), I’m glad to have it. It’s the biggest cliché of illness, but I really do appreciate every day that I feel OK in a way a person who has always been healthy never could.
Learning this lesson was excruciating, but reaping the rewards of it is nothing short of amazing. Going though each day aware of how fortunate I am to have it is a wonderful, joyous way to live.
For many years, I felt as if my body had betrayed me. The physical exhaustion, mental fogginess and excruciating pain of chronic migraine smothered my energetic, spirited personality. I was young and should have had strength and stamina, but was instead trapped inside a broken body. In believing this, not only did my body appear defective, so did my entire self.
Tired of being angry with my body — and, by extension, myself — I focused on everything my body does well, like walking, breathing, circulating blood. From this view, the constant, mundane tasks to which I give no thought become small miracles. Yes, my neurological system misfires regularly, but that this complicated series of systems works at all is far more profound than the frustrations with its quirks.
How could my body have betrayed me? There is no contract, no guarantee that a person will be healthy and pain-free. In fact, the expectation that a body should behave perfectly has come to seem absurd. The human form is a complicated piece of machinery; any one body is bound to have some flaws.
With my new perspective has come an unexpected gratitude: I am now thankful when my body aches after I’ve been laid up with a migraine for a couple days. That deep itch to move and stretch, to use my body instead of just inhabit it, reminds me how resilient this sometimes bedridden body truly is.
Tonight I will go to a more strenuous yoga class than usual. My movements may not be as effortless or graceful as other students’, but the mere fact of my participation is a greater triumph than I could imagine a month ago. I will stretch and twist, bend and balance from the tremendous strength that I now know lies within my beautifully imperfect body.
Living with illness can make even the most optimistic person feel defeated. Rae from Limbodacious has written (yet another) beautiful post about a recent realization.
“. . . [O]n one particularly beautiful autumn day, Husband and I decided to take some of our dogs out for a nice walk. As we rounded the corner coming back towards our house, I was overcome by one of those lovely moments where everything that you hold dear is all in your line of sight. I saw my loving husband that works so hard to make me happy, our charming house that we have fixed up with our own hands, our dogs that never allow our lives to be dull, all on our darling tree-lined street in a friendly and safe neighborhood.”
“And I just thought, wow… my life sucks.”
It’s worth clicking through to the full post.