Migraineur as patient, migraineur as caregiver
Last updated: December 2020
Today I am writing not from the perspective of Janet as patient, but from the perspective of Janet as caregiver.
You see, my longtime boyfriend, Jim, is like me in that he has some chronic health problems. And, like me, one of the most persistent problems he has is his ongoing battle with migraine disease.
This fall, I had about six to eight weeks’ worth of really crappy migraine days. Even when I didn’t have a particularly painful headache with my attack, I tended to feel really downtrodden and exhausted and not quite right. Jim was patient with me, taking care of me and reminding me not to overdo it on the days I was starting to feel more like my healthy self.
As fate would have it, my migraine fog started to lift just as his settled in. I’m not saying I’m migraine-free (goodness knows that would invoke the curse—you know, when you comment on how well you’ve been doing and, before you know it, you start feeling like crap again). I am saying I feel a hundred times better than I did those bad days in September and October.
When Jim and I are both sick, it’s pretty tough on us, and it is tough on our routines and our ability to manage everyday tasks and our household duties—in a previous post, I’ve commented that even our house feels sick when Jim and I are both laid out with illness.
Thankfully, our bouts with pain and illness have taken turns the last couple of months, meaning one of us is able to take care of tidying up, providing meals, and playing nurse while the other convalesces. In mid-October, Jim got hit by a couple of waves of migraine attacks and was having a tough time. He’s in college now and, during the times he felt well enough to be in class or at his job, he wore his hat or sunglasses (or both) to block as much as the fluorescent light as possible. He explained having difficulty word-finding sometimes in class, and he definitely needed my help a couple of times as he tried to decide if going to class that afternoon would be a smart choice or not.
As hard as it is to be sick, it can be really difficult to watch someone you love be in pain. For me, it seems particularly poignant when you and your loved one share an illness and you can be pretty sure you know what he is going through. From the possible disbelief of teachers/bosses to the question of if you should ask for disability accommodations to the need to have someone make you some bland, easy-on-the-gut food, I totally could identify with where Jim was coming from, and I was a better caregiver for it.
I’m curious about those of you who have migraine disease and also help care for a loved one with migraine disease. How do you manage migraine in your household? Do you feel as if you’re a good caregiver? Does your personal experience with the illness make you a better or worse caregiver?
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?