Saturday, May 1, 2010

Living With The Migraine Fairy

The new blog carnival topic is an interesting one: learning to live with pain. I've been living with chronic migraine pain for just over 4 years now. Even though that is a fair amount of time, most of it was spent in a sort of denial. I say a sort of denial because I was VERY aware of all my pain, the impact it was having on my life and I was actively working towards a fix - But - at the same time I refused to even consider this to be a long term state. I believed each time the doctor wanted to try something new that it would be THE thing that worked. I always spoke about "when I'm feeling better," or "when I get my migraines under control."

After being out of work for about a year I started to realize this may be permanent. Don't get me wrong, I still have hope that I will get my migraines under control. But, after so long, it is hard to deny that it could go either way and I decided to learn how to live anyway.

Pain is a tricky companion to adjust to but here is what I've learned so far:

1. Sometimes a little denial is okay. Living in fear is just no way to live at all yet it is easy to be afraid to do things because you know it will result in pain. For example, I know if I spend a few hours outside doing something I will have a migraine shortly after. But I wanted to enjoy Monticello with my husband a few weeks ago so I did. I let myself live in enough denial to go out and really enjoy myself, but not enough to preclude appropriate migraine preparations for before and after.

2. Learning and accepting the new limitations. Once you know what your body can and cannot handle (and the various shades of gray in between), you can make the necessary accommodations. Learning your new limitations is easy, it is the accepting that is tricky.

3. Learn to say no. This was hard for me, but I learned pretty quickly that it is better to say no upfront when you know you can't handle something than to have to bow out because you are in so much pain during.

4. Be kind, understanding and forgiving of yourself. This is something I am working on right now. While I'm not quite there, I know I shouldn't be so hard on me for the recent failings of my body. I simply can't spend all my "good days" beating myself up over the "bad days."

5. LAUGH as often as you can. Do whatever you need to do to ensure that you laugh every day. It is just as important to your well being as eating and sleeping. Read it, watch it, make it up in your head, look for it, find it - it is that important. You can never have too much, so consume as much as you can find, as often as you can. It comes with a 100% guarantee of making a positive impact. How many of our drugs can say that?

I'm sure there is much more that I'll learn along the way, but this is where I'm at right now. What have you learned from living with your pain?


  1. O dear! That cartoon!
    Everyone who suffers Migraines will relate to it!
    I will put it on my facebook!
    Good tips too!

  2. 5. Laugh. I'm still laughing over the Migraine Fairy! What a wonderful way to begin and end your post.
    Judith Westerfield

  3. Wonderful ideas. And you're right about laughter. We can't overlook the power of it.

  4. This was wonderful for someone who also suffers from migraines :).

    Laughter is the most important medicine!

  5. I agree! If you can't laugh, what are ya gonna do, cry? That's the way I look at it.

    Great post!