Tell us about some unexpected blessings that have come out of your experiences living with migraine disease and other headache disorders.
How timely! I was just talking about this with a newly diagnosed patient last week. She was feeling very hopeless about her diagnosis and believed that “life was over.” Anxiety and depression had taken over her world. I assured her that life can be full of wonder and joy, even with pain. You know who you are, sweetie. This one’s for you!
If it were not for chronic pain, I would never slow down. I doubt I would have ever learned to take pleasure in simple things. My family and friends would describe me as “stubborn”, “strong-willed”, “determined”, “never quits”, “doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer”. Chronic pain keeps me in check. It forces me to watch what I eat, make sure to drink enough water, and get enough rest. Honestly, I do push limits. I like to work hard and enjoy the feel of “muscle burn” after a hard day’s work. If I were any other way, chronic pain would have destroyed me long ago.
Appreciation of Nature
“If God didn’t make it or humans have tampered with it, then you probably don’t need to eat it.”
I started making that statement about 10 years ago while running a health food store. It’s a pretty extreme statement, but it made my point. The most wholesome foods come from nature, not from a box, bag, or can. Chronic pain is often accompanied by wide-spread inflammation. Wholesome foods in their natural state can ease this inflammation, making the pain a lot more tolerable. Natural foods are a chronic pain patient’s best friend.
Sometimes nature is not my friend. Thunderstorms, lightning, high winds, pollen, mold, dust, bright sunshine, and sudden temperature changes can all wreak havoc in my body. Still, I’ve developed an appreciation for the power of nature as an agent of healing and destruction. Mostly, I’ve just learned to accept that nature does what nature does because that’s how it was created. It’s nothing personal and God doesn’t have a vendetta against me every time the winds blow.
Of all the problems I have faced, none have been so relentless as chronic pain. Whenever I am faced with a challenge, I remind myself (or at least try) that I am strong. If I can survive the onslaught of 15 days of Cluster Headache attacks, I can survive anything. At least that’s what I tell myself on good days.
Although I don’t always use them, I do have the skills to transform negative emotions (anger, depression, anxiety, fear) into strength I can tap into when I am feeling weak.
Recently our family was faced with a storm of problems that were all screaming for attention at once. It was my job (despite pain) to make phone calls to address these problems. I was pretty short with my family that week. I explained this concept to my husband like this…
“I know that I am difficult to live with right now. There’s just so much going on that it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. I can’t give up. We need me to keep fighting. The only strength I have right now is coming from anger. If I can stay angry, I will have the strength to take care of all this stuff. Once it’s all under control, I can relax and I won’t be so irritable. Please be patient with me.”
My life is richly blessed with amazing friends, many of whom I would not have met had it not been for chronic pain. Even though I don’t get to see them often, I appreciate the technology that allows us to stay close.