My life with migraine started around the time I was 18. I was in college and began having classic symptoms associated with migraine- nausea, stabbing pain (up the back of my head on the left side,) fatigue, sensitivity to light/sound and so on. Thinking that I was just spending too much time at my computer, in classes and focusing on homework, I lived with it for about a year before I sought medical advice. I had the diagnosis confirmed by my general practitioner and it was a relief. He told me that it was very common for women my age to develop migraine, but that by their mid-20's many outgrow it.
After a trial-and-error of a couple medications, we finally landed on one that seemed to help. Maxalt, a triptan and abortive medication, is taken at the start of a migraine. I hated the feeling of needing a medication. Often times I would not take it or when I would finally give in, it was not as effective and it took me longer to have relief. I was stubborn and convinced that I would not be dealing with this for much longer- I was going to grow out of it, right?!
Wrong. As I got older, my migraines got progressively worse. I was shocked, disheartened and even grieved my old self, my old life. I finally realized that this "thing" was not going away (for now). That is when I decided to take it more seriously and pay attention to my body's needs. I started writing things down, tracking and sorting through triggers. I learned a lot about myself in those days, months, years.
Just when I had come to better terms with my new life, my health took another turn. I went from having a few migraines a month to a few a week... Eventually, at the urging of my husband, I found a neurologist and got a new diagnosis. Chronic migraine. To qualify for this, you have to have 15 or more headache days a month for three consecutive months, and at least 8 need to be a migraine. Mine were not just headache days, I was having 2-6 migraines a week. We were living in San Diego, N was a baby and Jeremy was gone with the ship a lot of the time. When I look back on that time in my life, I can honestly say I don't know how I did it. One day at a time, I'm sure, but a lot of my life was lived in a fog from the pain of migraine and exhaustion of new motherhood. Before the chronic diagnosis, I knew what it was. I had all the signs, I knew what to look for. I was in denial because a part of me kept saying, this is the time you are supposed to be growing out of this thing, it's not supposed to be getting worse! I thought I had come to terms with having migraine, however, I think I was still biding my time until I hit a magic age where they would disappear. This made coming to terms with having chronic migraine more difficult.
Wherever you are on your journey with migraine, or any kind of chronic illness, don't do what I did. Do not live in denial. Do not let your stubbornness prevent you from asking for help or seeking (multiple) medial options! You do a disservice to yourself and your family by not taking the proper steps to take care of yourself. I tried to put on blinders and plow ahead. I thought that self-care was selfish and unnecessary. All of the things that I was whispering to myself were absolutely wrong. Self-care is incredibly important, especially when you have a chronic illness. There is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself so that you can then take care of the people you love. You can't just ignore what your body is screaming at you and push forward without serious consequences. I know that it can be scary and overwhelming, and that is totally understandable...But you have to also continue to move forward with your eyes wide open.
When I was a little girl, my grandma used to say how pretty my big, blue eyes were. I refused to accept it and I would tell her no I have little, brown eyes! Chronic migraine is as much a part of me as much as my big, blue eyes- and I am okay with it. I truly believe that I was given this life, the struggles and the pain for a reason. God put a passion in my heart to help others with migraine not feel alone and to raise awareness. Without all that I have gone through, I would not be where I am right now, typing my thoughts and stories praying that I can help someone else. I don't deny my journey anymore, I embrace it.