Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Migraines and Control (or the Loss Thereof)

I'm a control freak, I admit it. This is one reason that migraines are such a challenge for me. Chronic migraine (OK, any kind of migraine) involves a loss of control. 

I had plans for today. I was going to clean the house to get ready for someone from the Exchange student program to come take another look and make sure that Ashley is, indeed, in a safe environment. 

But, I woke up at 7:30am with a migraine with headache level of 7/10 with mild nausea. Headache pain tends to be worse for me when I lie down, so I took meds and sat in my rocking chair until I was falling asleep. And then went back to bed. We now have a bed that we can adjust the head of the bed to about 30 degrees, so I put the head of the bed up, put on my CPAP, and slept from 10-2.

And the headache wasn't gone when I woke up at 2pm. I do admit that it was down to about a 5, but that's still not housecleaning migraine, especially not when I have nausea and diffuse myalgias (everything hurts). I asked the cats if they might be willing to help, since part of the mess is theirs, but they gave me the look of death. They could be teenagers.

So, you can see how migraines take over life when they come. I make plans but I never know if I'm going to have to cancel them. Today was my weekly severe migraine. I usually have a couple of other days a week when I have a less severe migraine, but still one that keeps me from engaging in most social events, appointments, and physical activity.

I like to know what I'm going to do each day. I like plans and I like to keep them. Migraines prevent that. Loss of control over my life is one of my least favorite things about this illness. I've missed my kids' concerts and other activities because of migraines. I feel like it steals part of my life. If I knew when the attacks were going to come, I could make plans. But, that's just it, I can't control it.

The loss of control is even worse when the migraine gets bad enough to land me in the clinic or the emergency department. Those are the migraines in which the pain makes me feel like my head is going to explode. The one thing I usually can control is that I won't cry. Crying makes the pain worse. But, I can't stop the vomiting. I try to take meds, but they don't always work (which is why I'm at the clinic or emergency department). It's also rather embarrassing because when I vomit, I lose control of my bladder. The whole event is distressing! I feel better once I get my meds, but I've been at the mercy of the nurses and doctors getting my vitals done, my iv placed, etc. It helps only a little to have once been on the other side of the interaction as the MD. This time, I'm still the helpless patient.

What do I do about all this loss of control? When possible, I make contingency plans. Last fall, when I flew down South a couple of times, I made sure to have all my migraine meds with me so that I could treat a migraine during travel if I needed to. I knew treatment wouldn't completely make it go away, but it could keep me from vomiting and being too miserable. When my plans impact other people, like getting Ashley's eye exam done yesterday, I worked with PWM to have an alternate plan ready. 

I can't always have an alternate plan, so a lot of times, I just have to cancel whatever was scheduled for that day. Like today's house cleaning. PWM cleaned the bathroom floor and I'll try to do what I can tomorrow.

My other solution is spiritual. Be content. God has control over my life, not me. I've spent the last eight years working on this, but I'm still not very good at. Nonetheless, Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6 "Godliness with contentment is great gain" and in Philippians 4:12, he says, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." 

I'm still working on being content with daily prayer and meditation. God knows my situation. Scripture tells us in many places that trials are meant for our spiritual growth. I trust that God has my best interest at heart. John 6:33 "In this world, you will have trouble; but, take heart, I have overcome the world!"

Even when I don't have a significant headache, learning to "go with the flow" has it's advantages! I've learned to be more relaxed about whether the laundry is done or the kitchen is clean. I've learned that sometimes it's OK to just hang out and be with my kids.

The loss of control that comes with migraine is one of my least favorite side effects. It's hard to deal with. Yes, it's taught me a lot. But, I'm ready to be done!

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