A partner in crime

In her essay "In Bed," famous migraineur Joan Didion mentions how fortunate she is to have a husband who is also a Migraine sufferer. Don't get me wrong here: she's not grateful that he has to go through painful headache episodes. Rather, she highlights the invaluable importance of connecting with someone who understands that a Migraine is not "just a headache."

As a woman in my mid-20s who sees her default status as "single," it's always been hard for me to accept the idea of depending on someone else for assistance. This, in part, may be one of the reasons I've not actively sought after a boyfriend figure for many years. One hurdle I feel I am never ready to jump over is the Migraine revelation: in the words of All in My Head author Paula Kamen, I rarely feel comfortable or prepared enough to "come out" as a Migraineur. Men (or boys, as they case often was) who've heard about my CDH and Migraine disease have had a variety of responses, both long- and short-term. No one has responded in a deliberately negative fashion, thankfully. I've had the ones who react with the, "Yeah, we all get headaches, so why don't you just plow through it or take an Advil?" (but delivered politely). And I've talked with people who have been patient with me, wanting to do their best to help me through the pain but not really having any idea what I was going through. Maybe it was my fear, but I really felt as though they would not have wanted to stick around for real life with me: as much fun as my life often is, there is a darker side to it, a side where I am teary-eyed and blinded with pain, needing to be locked in my room with earplugs in as I try to block out the world. I don't think that anyone I've dated thus far has been prepared to stick around for that; I don't know if I've wanted any of them to be the ones to do it, either, so I'm not trying to badmouth them.

As I mentioned in my last entry, I started dating someone a few months ago. I believe it was during our first long conversation out on my screened in porch, only hours after we had met, that I went ahead and told him about my Migraines. (I could be wrong--maybe it was a couple of nights later--but it was very soon into the dating period for me, uncharacteristically soon, which speaks well of him and of my comfort level.) He told me that he, too, suffered from debilitating Migraines and had had them for decades. Fast forward three months later, and we have had the [un]fortunate opportunities to take care of one another during our times of illness: times when he felt so sick he had to lie down on the cool hardwood floor under the bed, times when I felt so awful I sobbed until he quietly held me and patiently explained how crying would probably increase the pressure in my head and make the pain worse, and could he make me some herbal tea instead?

Knowing that someone understands what I'm going through has made a world of difference. I do have friends who suffer from Migraines, friends with whom I discuss Migraine attacks, possible triggers, and medication. But in recent years I've not had someone there to help take care of me when I'm in severe pain, and it is turning out to be some of the best medicine around.

I'm still ill, and I don't think any one thing or one person will cure me: I'm beyond such wishful, nonsensical thinking. But I do find all these things to be grateful for that are all around me. I have only $48 in the bank right now, but I have a credit card that's not maxed out, so I can pay for my drugs when I need them, and I realize how fortunate that makes me. My friends and family will be there emotionally whenever I call for them and, quite often, when I don't. I think I do need to learn to call for them when I need the help they're so willing to provide.

As usual, I feel I've gone off on a tangent, so I'll close for now.


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