Chronic Migraine, Coping, Friends & Family, Triggers

Migraine, Careers, Weather, Happiness, Love

My husband left the best job he’s ever had so we could move to Phoenix for my health. He telecommuted at first, but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t going to work. This is old news for me, but I haven’t shared it with you. I thought I was OK with how things were working out. Although Hart no longer has the job that he loved, he is starting his own company (yay, TheraSpecs!), which is something he’s always wanted to do. We’re both stressed about bills and the looming end of COBRA health coverage, but I thought I was taking it in stride.

Then Hart’s boss from his best job ever, in Boston, called to fill him in on the future direction of the company. It is exciting stuff; stuff Hart wanted to be a part of. Jobs and careers aren’t more important than people, of course. However, my husband having a job that doesn’t bore him and doesn’t overwork him, that paid well and had health insurance is worth a lot. I cried when he told me about the phone call. He gave up so much for me and the move to better weather only improved my migraines a bit.

I had felt significantly better on vacations to Phoenix, so we left Boston thinking we’d have a full life here. That we’d be able to go out frequently, have parties, take weekend trips. Instead, the migraines caught up to me after I’d been here two months. It was the weekend after we closed on our (adorable, fantastic) house and my mom dislocated her shoulder and broke a bone in it to boot. Real life came crashing down. My body realized it was no longer on vacation and the migraines were back. Not as bad as they were in Boston, but still regularly disabling.

I am much, much better now than I was my first year back in Phoenix, thanks to magnesium and cyproheptadine (which I’ve been on for seven weeks and still need to tell you about), but I’m still pretty wrung out by the migraines. I feel like my health will continue to improve. I just need to work out some kinks, like dosage and timing, and get myself on a regular schedule. That process is never as easy or as quick as I think it will be, but I still believe the life in Phoenix that Hart and I planned is close to becoming reality.

I’ve spent the last three days wondering if I could get myself well enough to move back to Boston so Hart could work for that company again. (I’m fully aware of how absurd that is — if I had that much control over my health, I’d have healed myself decades ago.) Never mind that the company may not need him anymore and that he’s in the (scary, uncertain, exciting) depths of doing what he’s always wanted. My mind grabbed onto the notion that there was only one solution and gnawed on it for days.

Finally it occurred to me that if I were healthy enough to move to a less stable climate, I’d be healthy enough to get a job for health insurance myself. I’d be healthy enough to be the woman Hart married, the one who’s always ready for an adventure. I know he wouldn’t trade that for any job.

Friends & Family, Resources

Romantic Relationships, Marriage & Chronic Illness

Whether you’re married, living together or dating, chronic illness causes upheaval in any romantic relationship — no matter if it is solid or if it’s a little rocky. In marriages involving a chronic illness, the divorce rate is more that 75 percent (from A Chronic Dose).

I get asked for advice a lot and am always at a loss for what to say. I’ve finally stumbled upon some helpful resources. They all focus on marriage, but some themes are universal.

Keeping Your Marriage Strong
This overview is a good place to start exploring the topic. It addresses many different topics and gives some suggestions for improving your relationship.

How to Survive a Health Crisis or Chronic Illness
An excellent in-depth article covering a swath of issues that couples face. It has concrete, detailed suggestions for keeping your relationship strong.

Marriage and Chronic Illness: A Couple’s Story
One couple’s experience with chronic illness and how it ultimately improved their marriage.

Coping, Friends & Family

Guilty As Charged

Hart and I both have colds. He’s sitting on an airplane, going to a trade show, which will be busy, loud and exhausting. I’m sitting on the couch, watching baseball playoff games while perusing cookbooks, crocheting and reading.

I am completely overwhelmed by cooking and cleaning. I can let cleaning slide, but cooking is a necessity. Yet shopping, prepping and cleaning after dinner is just too much for me. (And I haven’t liked either meal service that I’ve tried.) For Hart, leaving work at 6 p.m. calls for celebration.

I’m trying to establish a “workday” routine that allows for all I need and want to do each day without wearing me out. This list is for when Hart is at work, which leaves evenings for spending time together and hobbies (or for me to overtaken by pain):

  • Blogging and returning blog-related e-mail messages — 2 hours
  • Cleaning, running errands, paying bills, grocery shopping and cooking — 2 hours average
  • Exercise, yoga two days a week and walking the other three — 1.5 hours average
  • Amazon sales and eBay (we’re selling a bunch of stuff and books) — 1 hour
  • Writing, either nonfiction health pieces or to try my hand at fiction (which will require lots of studying and practice) — 2 hours minimum

That’s eight and a half hours, which is nothing compared to Hart’s days. But for the sake of my health, I don’t want to exceed six a day.

Can you tell I don’t feel like contributing to our household? After three years, I am (mostly) OK with not earning money. Now I’m focused on making our number of hours of work comparable.

This isn’t about feelings of guilt or inadequacy, but because Hart comes home from most days completely spent. He hits the ground running each day, goes non-stop when he’s at the office, answers e-mail before he goes to bed each night and rarely stops thinking about work.

Hart’s talked about taking a couple years off to go to grad school. He’s also always wanted to start his own business. I want nothing more than to for him to be happy, but… there’s that pesky mortgage and necessary health insurance.

How is it fair that I get to take count practicing yoga as part of my work? Or take time off for lunch and a pedicure? Or read when I get tired?

I’m forever questioning the severity of my pain and [insert other migraine symptom(s) here]. I should be able to get more done in a day than I do, shouldn’t I? Am I just hiding behind the statistics on the impact of headache on quality of life?

Where’s the balance? Is it even possible to achieve one?

Coping, Friends & Family

My Favorite Husband

The Honey Hive near TaupoI can’t imagine coping with headaches without Hart’s support. He takes care of me when I need it, no matter how much I resist. When I overdo it, he encourages me to relax. If we have plans to go out, but I’m too sick to enjoy myself, he tells me it’s OK to stay home. When I beat myself up for always being sick/not having any energy/not making dinner/not getting out of bed, etc., he reminds me of everything I am capable of.

He never acts as though I’ve let him down, doesn’t resent of my moodiness and lets me complain when I need to. He doesn’t complain when I get a wild hare (like going to England by myself to follow Dave Matthews) and am too stubborn to back down. He encourages all my career explorations and helps put my ideas into perspective.

He’s caring, patient and understanding. My favorite husband is truly an amazing person and I’m so, so lucky to be married to him.

Happy birthday, Hart!