The Migraine Life: Firsts, and Lasts
The joy of doing something exciting for the first time has occupied much of my life in the past:
My first job and first home. My first dog, cat and horse. The first time watching our race horse win her first race was such a thrill! There were also my first blue ribbon and first trophy. First trip overseas. First days of school. First days in a new home. My first child. Watching that child take his first steps. A first taste of something wonderful. My first time helping a mare give birth and watching that foal take his first breath, make his first whickering sounds to me, and stand for the first time.
Due to my progressive Migraines and other health issues, I realized recently that instead of firsts, I have been doing things that, as I stand there in the ready to experience them, I think to myself: “This may be my last chance to do this.”
Even worse is doing something I love KNOWING this is the last time I will do it. No matter how much I savor every second of those experiences, I can’t get enough. It’s always over too soon. I always feel like I’ve missed some milli-second that I will regret not having in my memory banks.
I realize that firsts and lasts are a normal part of our life cycles and growing older. In a few weeks I will be 49 years of age. To me, the term “older” didn’t apply until you hit at least 70 or 75. But, here I am at 49 doing things that shouldn’t happen until I’m in my seventies or eighties.
I am not ready to be experiencing so many *lasts.*
In my family, life has hardly begun by this time! My mom jumped out of a perfectly good airplane for her 70th birthday, and my grandparents took a trip around the world in their seventies. My dad took his first balloon ride in his seventies (where he saved them all from crashing into power lines) and both parents went to Norway for the first time at that age. A good friend was bungee jumping for the first time in his eighties! Another learned to scuba dive and surf in his 70’s and 80’s.
All my life I was told, “Wait until you’re old enough. You can do it then.” I have such an adventurous spirit, and these crazy stunts are the things I have waited my whole life to be able to accomplish!
First there was school, then marriage and kids, then illness. “Later” never came.
Massive and repetitive Migraines and a sense of self preservation has had me thinking lately that there have been precious few *firsts* in my life lately, but a lot of *lasts*.
The lasts I am reminded of each day of my current life, cut deeply. They involve the end of a dream – my successful Arabian horse farm, which I very reluctantly closed due to my health.
After each horse was sold, I had to lead them into a trailer. Say my last goodbyes. Touch them for the last time, smelling their unique, clean sweetness and listening to them nicker to me for the last time. Then I watched as each one drove to the end of the driveway and turned either left, or right. I listened as I heard them call out as they drove out of sight. For the last time.
I would never see them again.
My last mare was pregnant with a foal I had worked a decade to help her produce. We had been through so much, she and I. She had even scarred and broken my face in an accident, and stuck with me as I worked to regain my confidence after the injury. She was very rare – literally the last of her kind, and I loved her like one of my kids.
I had those same experiences with her, but as I said goodbye to her, I also had to say my goodbyes to the foal moving within her that I had dreamed of and prayed about and worked for so long. I remember hugging her middle for the last time, feeling the colt inside her dance around in response to my voice and my touch.
Thanks to the failure of my body, it was the last time I would have any contact with either of them.
Thankfully the new owner understood my soul, and she allowed me to name our beautiful colt and produced a video of him with the words “I knew I loved you before I met you.”
Each day I experience another *last* or potential *last.* I experience precious few firsts anymore, and this saddens me.
I am still working on finding a good preventive, but twenty years of being chronic is tough to overcome, and I know it could take years yet. I’m also realistic. I know I can get better, but better is not a cure. It can’t give me back the years I’ve lost.
Some days I don’t handle it well. I get discouraged and find it difficult to remain my normal positive self. I try to think, “What is something amazingly wonderful about experiencing this – even if it’s for the final time?” I tell myself, “You now have a memory to cherish and hold in your heart, which few will ever experience in their entire lives.” I tell myself, “Remember how lucky you are.” I remind myself “You’re living on borrowed time (I nearly died after a medical mistake several years ago) so every experience is a bonus.” I try to turn those experiences into celebrations instead of funerals.
I wish it helped more.
I have, at times, become a jealous person, which is completely against my nature. I want those experiences that others around me are enjoying and taking for granted. I’m tired of sitting in the shadows and watching others do what I so desperately desire for myself. I choke back tears when family and friends try to convince me to do something I can’t possibly do and must turn down. I feel resentment when those I love try to bribe me to do things I can no longer experience, or guilt me into them, as if I wanted to be sitting in the dark inside the house all day long. When my hubs tells me “You shouldn’t do that, you’ll be in trouble tomorrow” it makes me want to rebel and do it anyway, and too often I give in and regret it later.
And, I know I am not alone.
Maybe you can help me…
What are some of the *lasts* that you have experienced? How did it make you feel when you realized it might be the last time you experienced it? How do you deal with jealousy that occurs when you can’t participate and the sadness sets in? How do you turn those lasts into celebrations instead of funerals?