“This too shall pass” is a phrase people rely on to help them through tough times. It is one I often employ when a severe migraine spell lasts so long that I cannot see a way out. As I’ve learned through mindfulness meditation, it also describes the concept Buddhism calls “impermanence.” The trick is that it doesn’t only apply to difficult situations — every moment, good or bad, passes, whether we want to hold onto it or not.
And this, folks, is today’s lesson in chronic migraine.
Whenever I have a good week I expect it to last. I’ve reigned in that same need to assume one good day is a sign of more to come, but string a few good days together and I’m a goner. No, actually, I’m lying. No matter how hard I try to temper the anticipation, there’s always at least a little part of me that latches onto that glimmer of better days and believes I’m on the upswing.
I’m still clinging to the bliss that was the last full week of September, the week before my birthday. Well, bliss in the view of a chronic migraineur. Migraines still came on every night, but the postdrome (migraine hangover) lifted by 2 or 3 each afternoon, giving me many engaged, productive hours each day. I really thought every week of my life was going to be like that. I knew there’d be setbacks, but that week, in my mind, was the result of taking cyproheptadine and magnesium, as well as correcting vitamin D and B12 deficiencies. Not only were the migraines not too painful, I had energy.
Then came a setback, which didn’t concern me much. I totally overdid the birthday celebrating and pushed myself into a week of migraine attacks. It was the price I (mostly) expected to pay for pushing too hard. But the migraines continued to be debilitating the following week. This week started off with the worst migraine I’ve had in two months, followed by persistent level 5 or 6 pain.
That good week in September was not evidence of a general upswing in my health, but, apparently, a fluke. Fortunately, life is full of flukes. I will have more good weeks, though I can’t predict when they’ll be. I’ll have more bad weeks, too. In the bigger picture of my life with chronic migraine, even the bad weeks of the last couple months aren’t too bad, more like mediocre. I’m content with mediocrity in this case. Besides, it too shall pass.