Counting the Blessings: The Complete Picture of Life with Migraine
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I was recently talking to someone about the myriad ways in which migraines have affected my life. Most of it she’d heard before: the not being able to be around bright lights or loud noises during an attack, the trying to avoid strong smells, the need to keep to a consistent schedule. When I started talking about other, bigger picture things, however, I could tell I was saying things she hadn’t considered before.

Living with chronic migraines has affected me in more ways than I can count, especially when it comes to my long-term goals:

Going to graduate school to finish my forensic neuropsychology degree is doable, but the post-grad, entry-level jobs are not. With my migraines, there is no way I could survive day after day in a hospital setting; the fluorescent lights would have me in bed within the third hour of the first day.

It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever go to law school, though that was once a dream of mine. The level of study, when combined with my family obligations, would simply be too much. I’d almost certainly find myself back in daily-migraine hell within six months.

Having another baby is also something migraine disease makes difficult, if not impossible. My toddler son would love a sibling, I’m sure, but the pain and disability I experienced during my pregnancy with him would be completely untenable with a toddler on my heels. Especially considering that most medicines are off limits during the first couple of trimesters.

Despite these significant limitations, however, I don’t view life with migraine as a prison sentence.

Migraine disease has brought almost as many positive changes into my life as it has limitations.

I take better care of myself then I did pre-diagnosis. I eat better, exercise more frequently, and put a higher value on regular sleep – all things that are key to healthy living. I also give myself more room to relax than I did before (though certainly not as much as I could).

The greatest positive changes, however, have come in my career. Yes, I probably won’t go to grad school for neuroscience. I almost certainly won’t go to law school, and I gave up my career as a managerial accountant/controller when the disease was at its worst. Those limitations are gifts though, when I look at what has come in their place.

Migraine gave me permission to do the thing I always wanted to do: write. I wanted to live and work as a writer from the time I could wrap my small fist around one of those fat Crayola crayons. I was told, however, as are many aspiring writers, that writing wasn’t a viable career option, even after I began getting published in high school. I was told to do something more realistic, something that would pay the bills, and that I could always write in my “off” time.

Sadly, there’s never enough “off” time to do anything you’re truly passionate about. My writing languished for years. I wrote, of course, whenever I could, but I didn’t have enough time to polish anything, so I rarely sent it off for publication.

When I got really sick, all that changed. My “safe” career options were no longer applicable. I was too sick to do them. Suddenly, my dream job became my back-up plan. Writing was the “safe” choice, and I quickly built my life around a job and lifestyle I’ve loved since I was a child. The blessing in that can’t be denied, and it’s something I always try to remember when I talk about how migraines have changed my life.

How about you? What gifts or positive changes has migraine brought into your life?

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