Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My life with Chronic Migraine

Chronic illness has made huge changes to my life. I don't want to write like I'm a victim. I may not be in control of all of my life, but I know that God is. And that's a huge comfort. But, my attitude and my faith are tools that God can use to help me to deal with my chronic illness. But, here are some negative and positive changes that have happened in my life since I was diagnosed with chronic migraine.


  • I had to quit working. I loved working. I was a family doctor who did everything from delivering babies to nursing home rounds. Life was never boring and quitting was the furthest thing from my mind. Until the pain. Suddenly, I couldn't stay up all night without a migraine the next day. Then, the migraines started sprouting up without warning. Soon, I had pain just about every day. Then, it was time to say good-bye to medicine. Temporarily, I hoped. That was eight years ago.
  • Pain. Chronic migraine sounds like a really long migraine. Technically, the definition is 15 migraine days out of a month. That's a lot of migraines. But, in the process of becoming chronic, a person with chronic migraines also develops chronic fatigue, chronic muscle pain (much like fibromyalgia, if not actual fibromyalgia), sleep disturbance, and mood disorders. By the time I got to chronic migraine, I didn't feel like myself anymore.
  • Meds. I'm down to just seven daily medications without prn (as needed) medications, although my chart lists a whole bunch of supplements as well. Mostly, I'm treated for migraine, depression, hypothyroidism, sleep difficulties, muscle pain, and allergies. It could be a lot worse. 
  • Medication reactions. One of my medications, a NSAID, gave me mild chronic renal failure because I took it for so long. When I quit taking it, I had a terrible rebound headache that only calmed down when I started taking Botox.
  • Botox. This gets a special mention because of my love/hate relationship with it. (The same could be said for Prednisone!) I love that it works. I hate that it involves 30+ little injections across my forehead and scalp. My doctor works quickly, though, so it's over with in a jiffy. But, it's not a positive.
  • Isolation. I don't go very many places. My friends generally come here because I don't often feel well.
  • Cognitive dysfunction. I like to think and read. I get frustrated when things slow down and I can't remember events or I can't connect things. Just today, PWM had to finish doing the deposit for the shop because I messed up some addition (with a calculator!). This is beyond frustrating for someone with a couple of bachelor's degrees and a professional degree. 
  • Exercise intolerance. I manage some exercise every day, but not a huge amount. An hour of yoga is max for me. The last two times that I've walked two miles, it triggered a migraine, although I can do at least 1.3 miles and feel really well. I assume I'll be able to slowly increase this, but it's been slow at best. I've been working at it for several years.
  • The Knitting Nest. This was a positive, as you'll see. But, it has become a negative.  In fact, it has become obvious in the last few weeks that I can't run a yarn shop, even part-part-time, with my chronic migraine illness. And it's adding more stress, which increases the risk of migraine, the longer I try to do so. As of the end of the summer, The Knitting Nest will be closing it's doors. Deep Sigh.
  • Knitting. Only the worst headaches and nausea can keep me from knitting. I love yarn and fiber and knitting. I do sometimes set them aside for a week or two when i get into a good book, but then pick them back up with a vengeance!
  • Reading. I love to read both fiction and non-fiction. When I was working, I mostly read medical journals, as you can imagine. I missed all the novels of my high school and college years, so I have been reveling in read books and listening to audiobooks while I knit.
  • My kids. When I quit working, PWM started working in a machine shop and then when back to school to get his math teaching license so I became the stay-at-home homeschooling parent. It was a joy to get to know my kids so well during those years. Rosie Girl graduated from homeschooling while Wild Man started his Junior Year in public school this year (when PWM started at the public school after the school board asked him if he would come teach middle and high school math). So, now I don't have kids around all day anymore, but I cherish those days when I had preteens and teens. And, when they are home, they quite often bring their friends, both college student Rosie Girl and high schooler Wild Man!
  • My faith. People used to ask about my faith story and I said there wasn't much to it. I grew up middle class in the church and I believe what I believe. Nothing bad had ever really happened to challenge my faith. Until migraines. Constant pain of some kind with fatigue and nausea will certainly make a person question God - or at least God's goodness. I spent some time reading Job and Lamentations and Psalms trying to understand the concept of lament and sadness and how God works in that. I still don't understand, but I can rest in it and believe, which is OK.
  • The Knitting Nest. We started our yarn shop to help give me something to do on my good days. I've loved having it and was looking forward to more responsibility this summer and fall. I like teaching knitting and helping people with knitting problems.
  • The internet. It reduces the loneliness by connecting me with others with chronic illness, my friends that I don't see often because I don't get out enough, and helps me make new friends on sites that interest me!
I'll try to come up with something a little happier next time around . . . .

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