Counting the Blessings: The Complete Picture of Life with Migraine
I was recently talking to someone about the myriad ways in which migraines have affected my life. Most of it she’d heard before: the not being able to be around bright lights or loud noises during an attack, the trying to avoid strong smells, the need to keep to a consistent schedule. When I started talking about other, bigger picture things, however, I could tell I was saying things she hadn’t considered before.
Living with chronic migraines has affected me in more ways than I can count, especially when it comes to my long-term goals.
Missing out on graduate school
Going to graduate school to finish my forensic neuropsychology degree is doable, but the post-grad, entry-level jobs are not. With my migraines, there is no way I could survive day after day in a hospital setting; the fluorescent lights would have me in bed within the third hour of the first day.
It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever go to law school, though that was once a dream of mine. The level of study, when combined with my family obligations, would simply be too much. I’d almost certainly find myself back in daily-migraine hell within six months.
Deciding not to have another baby
Having another baby is also something migraine disease makes difficult, if not impossible. My toddler son would love a sibling, I’m sure, but the pain and disability I experienced during my pregnancy with him would be completely untenable with a toddler on my heels. Especially considering that most medicines are off limits during the first couple of trimesters.
Despite these significant limitations, however, I don’t view life with migraine as a prison sentence.
Migraine disease has brought almost as many positive changes into my life as it has limitations.
I take better care of myself then I did pre-diagnosis. I eat better, exercise more frequently, and put a higher value on regular sleep – all things that are key to healthy living. I also give myself more room to relax than I did before (though certainly not as much as I could).
The greatest positive changes, however, have come in my career. Yes, I probably won’t go to grad school for neuroscience. I almost certainly won’t go to law school, and I gave up my career as a managerial accountant/controller when the disease was at its worst. Those limitations are gifts though, when I look at what has come in their place.
Migraine gave me permission to do the thing I always wanted to do: write. I wanted to live and work as a writer from the time I could wrap my small fist around one of those fat Crayola crayons. I was told, however, as are many aspiring writers, that writing wasn’t a viable career option, even after I began getting published in high school. I was told to do something more realistic, something that would pay the bills, and that I could always write in my “off” time.
Sadly, there’s never enough “off” time to do anything you’re truly passionate about. My writing languished for years. I wrote, of course, whenever I could, but I didn’t have enough time to polish anything, so I rarely sent it off for publication.
When I got really sick, all that changed. My “safe” career options were no longer applicable. I was too sick to do them. Suddenly, my dream job became my back-up plan. Writing was the “safe” choice, and I quickly built my life around a job and lifestyle I’ve loved since I was a child. The blessing in that can’t be denied, and it’s something I always try to remember when I talk about how migraines have changed my life.
How about you? What gifts or positive changes has migraine brought into your life?
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?