Headache Camp: From Mom's Seat

I’ve written about my several in-patient stays at Thomas Jefferson University’s Headache Center, AKA “Headache Camp.” Those articles are from my point of view. But those around me experience my hospitalizations differently. My Mom wrote the following after I had gone to Headache Camp for my first Ketamine infusion. For me, I just remember her always being there, knitting or bringing cupcakes. It was comforting. She even crocheted one of my pregnant nurses a baby blanket. My first time at camp, I purposefully did it by myself. I quickly realized that you are never too old to want your Mommy, so I asked her to come with me for part of the next two stays. I am so grateful to my Mom and my boyfriend who swaps babysitting duties with her after a few days. It can’t be easy to sit in a hospital room and watch me go through this. Here is the view of Headache Camp from my Mom’s seat.


“Mom? Is today Tuesday?”

“Yes, Katie. Today is Tuesday.”

“O.K. Just checking.”

It is very unfair to say that migraines are headaches. Headache implies that you can take two aspirin and it will go away in 20 minutes. They don’t. Having a daughter that has suffered from migraines since the age of five and seeing how they affect her quality of life, I call migraine a disease. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines disease as a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally. That is how I see it. When you watch your child’s life change because of migraines or any other disease for that matter, you just want to get them back to normal. You want them to go outside and play with their friends or be able to go back to school or work after a few days of debilitating headaches. You just want them to smile and laugh! You want the normal that was there before the migraine. Sometimes normal comes back and sometimes it doesn’t. As a parent, we all wish we could take away the pain or suffer it for our child. It is difficult to stand by and watch the migraine play out.

Being with my daughter during round two of Headache Camp was a little different than other hospital stays and in some ways just like all the other times. I was in a city I was not familiar with so Katie and I walked around the first day to get the lay of the land. As it was not practical to drive my car four blocks in the city and try to find a place to park, I walked back and forth from the hotel to the hospital and back again each day I was there. Old Man Winter was not kind those few days in Philly but I did what any mother would do. I trekked to a local bakery in the snow and ice every morning to pick up Whoopie pies and cupcakes for our afternoon snack.  Since Katie couldn’t tolerate noise from the T.V., I brought my crocheting to keep myself busy. Katie just slept most of the time. She would wake up and ask what day it was. She was afraid she had slept through a day and didn’t know it.

“Mom? Is today Wednesday?”

“Yes, Katie. Today is Wednesday.”

“Was the doctor in to see us this morning?”

“Yes, the doctor and his minions have been in today.”

This went on several times each day I was there. Every time she woke up from a nap I would have to reassure her that she hadn’t slept the whole day away. It taught me patience that I don’t always have. She was asking the question as if it was the first time that day and I answered as if it was the first she asked the question.

Sometimes just being there is all you can do for a loved one but sometimes that is all you NEED to do. Whether she remembers or not, Katie and I have made new memories like Whoopie Pies and Lavender Cupcakes. I started crocheting an afghan while she slept. It will be hers when I’m done and I hope it will give her warm and loving thoughts on those days when her head hurts.

“Mom? Is today Thursday?”

“Yes, Katie. Today is Thursday.”

“Did Doctor Young come to see me this morning?”

“Yes, he was in after breakfast.”

“The pain management doctor was in this morning, too?”

“Yes, you remembered correctly.”

“Is today Thursday?”

“Yes, Katie. Today is Thursday.”

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