Losing Days, Months, Years to Migraine

I've had six months of migraine chaos. For the last two, I’ve been housebound, unable to work, struggling to even feed myself, not doing much of anything else. This downturn follows a year of feeling like my migraine attacks were manageable for the first time in my adult life. A worsening of symptoms is always distressing. Having that worsening come right before I turn 39 has transformed the stress to a borderline crisis.

Migraine causes a lot of loss and grief

You, like me, have probably lost a lot to migraine: friends, jobs, further education, hobbies... maybe even a marriage, time with dying loved ones, or seeing your kids grow up. Our lists will be different, but the weight of loss is always heavy. Of all the heartbreak I have endured, only one loss continually brings me to my knees. It’s one for which there is no chance to repair, regain, or replace.

Time lost to migraine

That loss is time. I can make the most of however many years I have left, but my 20s and 30s are irretrievable. With years of excellent therapy, I had (mostly) come to terms with what I’ve lost in the past. As I approach 40 and am stuck at home, the specter of future losses loom: How many more years will migraine render me barely functional? How long will it take to find another effective treatment—six months, eight years, two decades? What other once-in-a-lifetime experiences and milestones will I miss?

Migraine forces me to focus on the present

I cannot know the answers to those questions until I’ve lived them. Instead of being terrifying, that truth actually comforts me. Aside from the occasional freakout, I try not to predict the unknowable future. Instead, I focus on what I can do each day. Today I will lie on the couch and plan what to talk to my headache specialist about next month. I’ll think about which treatment variable to tweak next. If I’m up for it, I’ll read up on the latest research. These steps feel infinitesimally small, but I tell myself that each one brings me a little closer to relief.

Paying less attention to passing time

Moments still slip away faster than I can bear. Some days I can’t do even one of the tasks listed above. The passage of time is more acutely painful on those days. I will eventually work through the tremendous grief, but probably not for a long time. For now, I pack it away where I can’t see it. It’s the only way to keep myself from collapsing to the floor in sobs.

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