A Fairy Tale
Day #5 Blog Prompt: Who is the fairy tale or character that best describes you. Tell us why
If you had asked me this question a month ago, I would have responded differently. I used to identify most with the fairy tale character, Mulan, but that changed when my daughter insisted on spending Mother’s Day watching the new Disney fairy tale movie, Brave. The main character of this fairy tale is Merida, a young princess who has been suddenly informed that she must marry. She protests that she is not ready for marriage and disrupts the ceremonies by competing in the tournament and beating all the suitors. She is a much better reflection of me. Like me, she is determined, unafraid of conflict, speaks before she thinks, acts impulsively, and resists tradition. From an early age I have done things my own way, even if it got me into trouble. I wasn’t rebellious, but I wasn’t shy about fighting for what I believed was right no matter what the cost.
I guess that’s why patient advocacy comes so naturally to me. It is second nature to want to share the facts, dispel myths, and speak up for those who can’t help themselves. The other big factor is that migraines and cluster headaches consume so much of my life, I figured I’d better make something good come of it. No sense in having the most dominant part of life be a negative drain if you can help it. So as much as possible, I try to use my experiences and knowledge to improve the lives of others.
My life is no fairy tale. No one is coming to rescue me from migraines and cluster headaches. Only I can do the necessary work to improve my life. There are people I can turn to for help, but it is my choice to follow their advice. I am the one in control of my life. Even when my world is falling apart, just as Merida’s did, only I can make it right again. Doctors are great. Supportive friends and family are great. But they can only do so much. I am in control of so many factors that affect my headache disorders.
That’s not to say that I cause my attacks or that I have an unconscious desire to be in pain. I didn’t choose to be born with a genetic neurological disorder. I didn’t choose to sustain 2 head injuries in 2 years, thus triggering the onset of cluster headaches. I have choices. I can be mindful of these choices or I can live on “auto pilot” and choose to be a victim of circumstance. I do get to choose how I respond every single day.
Take a look some of the choices within my power:
- taking medications & supplements daily
- eating regular healthy meals & snacks
- drinking enough water
- practicing good sleep hygiene
- getting regular exercise that is appropriate for my health
- making sure I don’t run out of essential medication
- keeping ice pack and heat wraps nearby
- stopping to rest when I feel an attack coming
- taking abortive medicine responsibly
- using unscented or naturally scented cleaning products
- positive, empowering self-talk
- wearing sunglasses to block glare from fluorescent lighting
- avoiding 3-D movies or other fast-flashing visual stimuli
- reading labels to avoid known food triggers
- taking frequent breaks
- recognizing my prodrome symptoms
- giving myself permission to rest until all symptoms are gone, not just the pain
- knowing when to ask for help and doing it
- recognizing the early signs of depression & doing something about it
- filing for disability when I could no longer work
- speaking up around others about triggers (perfume, noise, food, etc.)
- correcting misinformation
- not taking it personal when ignorant people spread myths and stigma about migraine and headache disorders
I bet your life is no fairy tale either. There is no prince coming to rescue you. You will have to work hard to fight for your health. You can do this. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Be brave, like Merida, and take control of your own life.
The 2014 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Dreaming of a World without Migraine and Headache Disorders. The 2014 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of American Headache & Migraine Association.