So the question is, "What are you thankful for in your life despite living with migraine disease?" Strange as it sounds, I’m actually thankful for my migraine disease being in my life. I know that that sounds really odd, and slightly masochistic, but it’s not.
I have had migraines for as long I can remember, at least, and possibly since birth. I screamed for the first year I was alive, and nobody could find anything wrong with me. I remember in preschool hiding under the stairs, not wanting to play with my friends sometimes. I was always drawn to the dark places, curled up under my mom’s desk, under the stairs, etc.
This last summer, my sister and I were going through a lot of pictures, school papers, and other memorabilia that my mom had kept over the years. I found something that fascinated me. It was two pictures that I had drawn something like three days apart, as my mom always put the date on our ‘art’. The first picture of “a person” was a nice picture for a 3(?) year old. It was mostly a stick figure with squiggles for hair. Ok fine, cute. But what makes it so remarkable was the “self portrait” that I did three days apart. Again, the stick figure body, but this time, the “hair” was straight lines slashing through my head at various angles. And the lines that represented the hair were basically slashed into the paper, with much greater pressure than the rest of the body, or the previous piece’s pencil pressure had been. In other pieces of art, as I progressed to colored paintings, I would, some days, have bright sunny paintings, and other times everything would be red and black. I remember calling them “angry” colors at that age.
By the time I got to fist grade, the disease was interfering with my life enough, that, on the “getting to know the student” paper that my teacher sent home, my mom wrote, “Unfortunately, the headaches are real.”
I remember in second and third grade, sometimes having to crawl up into the loft that my teacher had in our classroom and just lie up there during class because the nurse had kicked me out of her office for being there too much.
I discovered my first food allergy about that time as well. Chocolate. That was interesting to my mom, as, back in preschool, when I felt sick, I avoided things like M&Ms on my own. So maybe I was actually sensitive to it long before we identified it as a trigger? I’m not sure.
Anyway, I won’t chronicle each school year’s changes as the migraines got worse. I’ll just add that I had to withdraw from gymnastics in end of 4th-beginning of 5th grade because I was passing out from the pain at times. Also in 5th grade, my pediatrician gave up trying to treat my migraines on his own, and sent me off to a pediatric neurologist, who put me on my first daily, preventative medication.
As I was telling a friend the other day, I went downhill so fast from there, that my schooling got very sporadic because of my marathon absences due to my weeks long migraines. My 7th grade year was basically the last year that I actually went to school on a regular basis, as in 8th grade I got my status migrainous.
That was 9 years ago, and I haven’t had a day without a migraine since early 8th grade. I finally threw in the towel and withdrew from school, which I had loved going to, in 11th grade, as soon as I was basically old enough that I could.
So, anyway, that’s my early history with my migraines. And, as I get older, I get progressively more and more grateful that I started getting migraines when I did, because I don’t remember a life without them. That make some people sad to hear, and go “oh, poor you,” but I don’t look at it that way. I see it as a stroke of luck. I have no definite “Before” and “After” memories of life without the pain of migraines, and then all of a sudden, a life with migraines. It just didn’t work that way for me. And I think I’m lucky for it.
Since I grew up with my migraines growing with me, I don’t really feel bad about the fact that I’m now disabled. It just kind of grew with me, and as a result, I’ve had all 23 years to adjust to the idea; so it’s nothing special, just part of who I am. But I don’t let the migraines be ALL of me, either.
I’m grateful that the migraines have made me a much more tolerant person. I can put up with a lot, emotionally, physically, and with other people. I know what it’s like when people treat me poorly because, since I’m disabled, I must be stupid, so I really try and give everybody an equal footing in my mind. I also accept people’s limitations, whatever that limitation is, as I know that I want people to accept my limitations, however sporadic they are.
The migraines have also made me appreciate the good days a lot more. I’ve learned to take life one day at a time, and truly enjoy the good moments, because I know that I don’t know when the next really awesome one will happen.
I’m very grateful that, as my migraines have gotten worse over the years, I’ve found increasing support online, and made some really awesome friends who actually get it, because they’re dealing with similar situations themselves. I have closer bonds with people I’ve never laid eyes on than people I grew up going to school with, and I’m completely fine with that. All I care about is that my friends, digital or “analogue” are supportive.
I’m also grateful for my migraines giving me the pain at a young age as it allows me to help others who are only just starting to suffer. I can tell them, “It’s ok. Life does go on,” and mean it. I’ve been told, years down the road, that I’ve helped people through the first couple of migraines and have been helpful, and that touches me so much.
So all together? I’m grateful for my migraines because I think that they’ve made me a better, stronger person than I might have been otherwise.
Quantum in me fuit,