My husband and I will be traveling this weekend to visit his extended family. There will be a family reunion on one day of the visit. We we be getting reacquainted with family members we haven’t seen since our children were young. On one hand, it will be nice to get away. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a road trip. This one will be simple and relaxed. On the other hand, I have my reservations about the trip’s success.
You see, migraine is not present in this family. Not a single member (that we know of) has ever experienced a migraine attack. When I married into the family, I was experiencing Medication Overuse Headache (MOH) and Migraine. Even once MOH was resolved, I still had high-frequency Migraine attacks. My experience was foreign to them and they never did understand. Some were even cruel in their responses. Migraines made me an outcast with my new family.
It’s gotten worse.
Since that time, I have also been diagnosed with Cluster Headaches and Fibromyalgia. Most recently, I spent 3 months fighting off bronchitis that turned into pneumonia that turned into pleurisy. When I finally recovered, I began having mobility issues due to swelling and osteoarthritis in my right knee. I now walk with a cane most days. So I am going to show up after 25 years with all these problems, plus about 60 extra pounds. I can foresee the possibility that I will not be treated kindly. My best hope is that they all behave themselves and wait until the weekend is over to gossip about me when I am gone.
I wish that I could set them straight. I wish that they would listen and try to understand life from my perspective. It seems kind of pointless though. I’m not likely to see them again for many years, if at all. Although there is nothing to be gained, my advocate’s heart still wants to educate them. After all, they seem like reasonable people. If they only knew the truth, maybe it would help someone else in the future.
10 things I want the family to know:
- I was born with the genetic predisposition toward Migraine. I didn’t do anything to cause it.
- I don’t ever fake a Migraine attack. Until recently, there have been too many real attacks. I need the pain-free time to get stuff done.
- Stress is not causing them (see #1). I have very effective stress management skills.
- Migraine is not caused by mental illness, bad food, or any other problem. It’s cause is unknown, but researchers think that it originates in the brain stem.
- Because of Migraine, I am extra sensitive to bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, changes in weather, heat, cold, and certain foods containing MSG, nitrates, tyramine, and artificial sugars.
- I must take a lot of medicine to control the attacks, but I am not an addict. None of my medicines are narcotics, opioids, or habit-forming in any way. Many of the pills I take are dietary supplements, too.
- Previously failed treatments had the unpleasant side effect of causing excessive weight gain. I don’t eat junk or overeat. I do have trouble being active because of mobility problems.
- I want to participate in all of the fun. Unfortunately, sometimes Migraine has other plans. If that happens, I will have to cancel. It’s not personal.
- I don’t enjoy being sick. I’d much rather be partying with you. Hiding out in the dark with my head covered in ice packs isn’t my idea of a good time.
- My children inherited Migraines from me. Please treat them kindly.
Hopefully all will go well. Keeping my fingers crossed for a pleasant, symptom-free weekend!