Chronic Migraine, Coping, Friends & Family

Illness or Not, Plans Get Derailed

Yesterday I described the aunt I wanted to be before migraine interfered with my life plans. Although migraine has commanded all my attention for the past decade, there’s no guarantee I would have been that ideal aunt even without chronic illness. Maybe my career or the 1,300 miles between my nieces, nephew and me would have gotten in the way, or maybe our relationships would have developed differently than I’d hoped.

It is easy to point at particular circumstances and say that if these problems hadn’t occurred, we’d be living the life we’d projected. But, chronic illness or not, it never works out that way. Few humans have designed their lives and then lived exactly according to that plan. Things come up. Whether in drastic and life-altering events or simply by making choices to go a different direction than expected. That’s kinda what life is all about — making it up as you go along.

I’d like to believe that my life would be exactly as I imagine it if only migraine hadn’t gotten in the way, but that’s not how it works. If not for migraine, some other factor would be exerting influence. My life would be different for sure, but it still wouldn’t be all cake and balloons.

As odd as this may seem, I find that tremendously comforting.



Happy Birthday to Me!

Most important news: Tonight’s my first post-stimulator yoga class!

As of 7:34 this morning, I am 30. Hart’s working, so we had a great dinner last night and I’ll have dinner with friends tonight.

I went to Top Pot, a local “gourmet” doughnut shop. I’ve always wanted to try their Boston cream doughnuts, but they never have any left by the time I get there. Oh my yum. I sat in the sun and enjoyed the fabulous doughnut and a latte.

My totally self-indulgent trip to England was my birthday gift, so I forbade Hart from buying me anything. He apologized last night, worried that I would miss having something to open. I convinced him not to worry — going to England was, obviously, the best gift I’ve ever had. The crowning glory is that I (legally) downloaded my favorite show and now listen to it all the time.

Today has been great so far and the last year was fantastic, even with my headaches. Here’s hoping next year brings the same.


Restorative Weekend

sanjuansWe spent the weekend relaxing with our friends P & K at their cabin on one of the small islands in the San Juans. There are many words to describe the weekend, but this photo of their deck and view captures it well.

We had a great time hanging out, talking and laughing with our friends. Hart reminisced about his Boy Scout days (storytelling about the good ol’ days is in his blood) and we learned a lot about K’s childhood summers, which she spent at her grandfather’s house on the island. We all pitched in to make great meals, but the best was the crab that P caught and prepared (aka killed) with K and her parents. Cocktail hour, a required ritual on the island, was observed with gin and tonics. I was able to enjoy one each night without a subsequent increase in headache.

Even though we build a lot of relaxation time into our weekends at home, it’s never as restorative as getting out of town. But a weekend away can be exhausting too — either because we’re camping or don’t really know where we’re going. This, however, was perfect. Getting to the boat on time was crucial, but after that all our stress melted away. The best part was getting to spend time with friends we adore.

I’m still so relaxed that I think I may have left my bones on the island.


My Summer Vacation

EnglandSpurred on by a chance to see Dave Matthews play three acoustic shows in small venues, I decided it was time for me to travel by myself, just for the experience. So I spent last week traveling around England and Wales alone. What began as a flight of fancy became a personal challenge and a chance for reflection.

I’m proud to say that I had a great time and made it out unscathed. More important is that I wasn’t waylaid by a headache or related symptoms even once.

Less than three years ago, I spent five days a week in bed. Last week, I drove around England and was fine. It took extra effort (I ate good-for-me foods regularly, rested frequently, didn’t pack too many activities into each day and took drugs when I needed to), but I succeeded. And what an accomplishment it seems.

Some of my ponderings:

  • I’m the happiest that I have ever been.
  • Although I spend more money on my “job” than I make, I’ve never enjoyed work more.
  • I’m not pain-free, nor will I likely ever be. And that’s perfectly OK.
  • I’m still independent and self-sufficient.
  • Needing people to help me is not a weakness, nor is wanting them to.
  • Indulging myself is just as important as indulging the people that I love.

I hate to say that being sick gives me perspective on the world; it just sounds dumb. But I can’t avoid the cliche because it is so true. Hooray for self-indulgence and the reminder that illness doesn’t have to eclipse our lives.