Not knowing how much you can take

Not knowing how much you can take ’til you’ve made it through

As I have mentioned a handful of times on here, I tend to run cold and very often have cold fingers and toes.  At six feet tall and very thin, I usually become chilly and shivery way before most people do. This often means I wear gloves (even just fingerless ones) or a puffy coat before most people even get cold.

During college, I lived in New York City and was cold all throughout the winter.  I walked a lot in the city.  I was born and raised in the South (Atlanta, to be exact), so winters are pretty mild and I was not used to truly cold weather. We got the rare snowfall, but until I moved to New York I wasn’t accustomed to having snow on the ground for weeks at a time, the wet cold seemingly seeping into my bones.  Foolishly enough, I didn’t own a proper winter coat then. I would put on a thin coat from Old Navy I’d gotten on clearance, layer with scarves, and wonder why I was so cold.

Eventually I wised up.  A couple of years after college, I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for about six months. I arrived in September of one year and moved at the very end of February the next, meaning I had a few months of Pittsburgh’s famously cold, wet, gray, and sludgy winters. I was worried about living in such a wintry climate since I do run so cold—how would I be warm enough?  Would I even be able to go for walks outside in the winter? Why did I choose this weird timing? Why couldn’t I have lived there in the summer?


I worked at a local coffee shop starting at about 5:30am a few days per week.  I would de-ice my car windows and sit in the car as the windshield defrosted. I drove on slick roads the two miles to the cafe, grateful that the roads were virtually empty at that hour.  One day I got to work, and one of our regulars (who was there every day before the opener even arrived) got out of his car and said, “It’s 2 degrees out today!”

Instead of commiserating with him about the cold, I started to laugh.  “Are you serious?” I asked.  “It’s only two degrees?”  I started moving the tables and chairs outside after salting the sidewalk, where snow had melted and then frozen over in a slick layer.  I still had a smile on my face.  I had worried so much about being cold, not being able to hack it in the North during winter, and here I was working outdoors in my puffy coat without complaint.  I wasn’t even really shivering since I was being so physically active.

That moment sounds so small, and it’s kind of embarrassing to tell this story because it is, on the surface, totally simplistic (and will seem ridiculous to anyone who wasn’t born and raised in a warm climate).  But here’s the rub:  it was an important moment for me, because I realized I could totally live with a situation I thought would be borderline-unbearable.  This type of epiphany has dawned on me many times since then, mostly when it comes to my health issues.  It can be so affirming and fascinating to realize that you have not only faced a situation you are fearing but that you made it through in one piece.

Have you ever had a moment where you faced something you were scared of only to realize you did just fine? Have you ever looked at your struggle with migraine disease and given yourself a pat on the back for not only surviving but thriving in the face of this debilitating illness?  Share your story below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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