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My Improvement is Not a Miracle

“If I believed in miracles, this would qualify as one.” I wrote that last week in reference to how much better I felt on Tolerex. It’s been bugging me ever since.

A miracle arrives out of the blue and is conferred by an outside force, some otherworldly or supernatural being. My improvement is not a miracle. It is a direct result of what *I* did, not the whimsy of some outside agent.

I’m the one who pored over articles from medical journals. I’m the one who has sifted through the highly unreliable information on histamine that’s available online, trying to differentiate fact from anecdote. I’m the one who created a spreadsheet and has logged every food I’ve tested. I’m the one who chose to give up real food to see if that would make me feel better. I. Did. This.

You know that I’m far more prone to self-criticism than self-congratulations, that I’ve adopted the criticism of the people who doubt the severity of my illness and my efforts to overcome it. Not this time.

It took going to extreme measures, but I can finally see how hard I’ve fought (and continue fighting) to try to reduce my migraine frequency and severity. Only a desperate, dedicated person would give up food (FOOD!) in an attempt to feel better.

My improvement is no miracle. It’s the result of not just a couple months or years of effort, but of 12 years of slogging through the days, attempting one unsuccessful treatment after another, and picking myself up and trying yet another avenue again to find relief.

So, yeah, I’m proud of myself. I think I deserve to be. I *finally* think I deserve to applaud my tremendous effort. This long, painful journey is nowhere close to over. But it’s far easier to move forward now that I can see myself as the courageous warrior my loved ones have been telling me I am.

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Chronic Migraine Time Management… and More Self-Doubt

While time management for accomplishing daily tasks on schedule despite chronic migraine still eludes me, I’ve found a system that works for me for big activities, like a party, travel, or even attending an important work function with Hart. I have to budget my time very carefully. I plan out everything I need to do, break it down into small tasks I can reasonably expect accomplish each day, and allow for a few extra days in case I have to take a day off. I always give myself way more time than I think I need and work in time to rest as well. I focus all my energy on these specific tasks and set aside everything non-essential.

I’ve just arrived in Seattle where I’m house sitting for the rest of the summer to get away from Phoenix’s monsoon season. Getting here has been convoluted. My mom, who lives outside of Portland, OR, is lending me her car this summer. Monday I flew there and spent the evening with my family. Tuesday I drove to Redmond, WA, to stay the night with a high school friend. Wednesday I picked up groceries (I’m still on an über strict diet that requires making all my food super fresh and freezing it) and moved to the place I’m house sitting for three weeks. This was all after spending last Thursday to Saturday in Flagstaff, AZ. I did some packing for Seattle before Flagstaff, then dedicated Sunday to finishing that up.

A healthy, energetic person wouldn’t find this schedule taxing; I found it stressful and exhausting. I’m more than a little embarrassed about that. Most of my years with chronic migraine, I have pushed myself constantly, pretending that I had a healthy body that could withstand a normal schedule. In admitting that I don’t and I can’t, I’m able to manage life and cope with the migraine attacks a lot better. I am mostly happy with it in my day-to-day life, but writing about it publicly is uncomfortable.

Admitting how much effort I expend to accomplish so little is humiliating. I hear the voices of all the people who have told countless migraineurs (and those with many other chronic illnesses, I’m sure) that we’d get better if we only tried harder or worked at it more. Despite knowing that method is not only fruitless, but counterproductive for me (and probably for most people with chronic illness), I still feel ashamed to share the unimpressive minutia of my daily life. I know intellectually these naysayers are wrong — and I’m even beginning to believe this in my heart — but I nonetheless feel defective in the eyes of society.

Being sick is really hard work. Those who have never had an extended illness have no idea how difficult it is. And, sadly, many of them are unwilling or unable to step outside their experience to consider what we go through. Still, those are the voices that haunt me as I work my butt of to manage chronic migraine. I want to be well and I want to be a productive member of society. It’s infuriating to know that others refuse to see this and instead pass judgement, assuming their way is the only right way, and that I must be doing something wrong if I’m not getting better.

I’m not one to care much what other people think… unless I fear there is truth to what they believe. Rationally I know they are wrong, but I can’t seem to shake my own doubt. I’m not defective or lazy and I want others to stop thinking that I am. Because if they don’t believe it, maybe I won’t either.