Did I Mention I Moved Across the Country?

At the end of every year, I use one of those online photo places to collect pictures of all the things my boyfriend, Archer, and I did that year to make a photo book. This will be book number #6. He jokes he loves the books because it helps him remember what we did that year.

As I’ve been gathering photos from Facebook, my phone, Dropbox, etc, I noticed there are more pictures of us apart than together. I just counted and by the end of December, we will have spent 153 days out of this year apart. That’s 42% of the year!

There are extremely important reasons for this rare phenomenon. The main reason is that we moved from Washington, DC to Santa Monica, CA, outside of Los Angeles. The impetus for our sudden departure was that Archer got an offer within his company for a raise, promotion and transfer. He’s from Santa Barbara (about 2 ½ hours north of us) and his family is all close by (depending on traffic, of course). We had talked in theory about doing this in 2 or 3 years so we weren’t really expecting this. The opportunity fell in his lap and we jumped on it. I’m really proud of him. He’s working really hard and thriving in his new role.

The move itself was quite the undertaking. I still don’t feel settled here because of trips back and forth to WV and DC for:

  • Doctor’s appointments at Georgetown…I finally will see the head of the headache clinic at UCLA in January, which I had to schedule seven months ago.
  • Helping care for my grandfather after a serious surgery at Georgetown.
  • Traveling to Napa for a bachelorette party and then officiating the wedding (yes, someone actually thought Archer and I would a good candidate for that!).
  • Surviving my 5th Headache Camp.
  • Attending the American Headache Society & AHMA annual conference in San Diego.
  • Going to my 1st US Pain Foundation Summit in Maine.
  • Running my first 5K in the Miles for Migraine race in Philadelphia.
  • Participating in a patient panel on Clinical Trials that focus on patient centricity.
  • Multiple trips to LA to find a new apartment and set it up with the bare necessities before Archer had to start on May 1 (six weeks after we decided to move!). OH yeah, I also had to buy a car so that he’d have something to drive when he arrived, too. I moved out with all of our belongings on June 1.
  • Supporting Archer as he took a seven week sabbatical from his new position to work on his fourth presidential campaign.
  • Spending quality time with my family and girlfriends in between events I attended on the East Coast.

I’m happy to say that this huge life change has improved our communication skills, forced us to divide and conquer tasks, making us even more of a team than before, learning the importance of letting the other know we missed being together and being ok with each other having their own space and time during this transition.

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been all roses. In DC we lived with roommates and in LA we have our own place. We both had a similar vision of how to decorate, but there was a lot of compromise all along the way (Archer is very opinionated with these types of things). There were communication breakdowns as we each tried to deal with logistics while separated by 3,000 miles. There were definitely times I would say we didn’t really like each other and he agrees. We still loved each other, we just didn’t like each other.

The entire year has put strain on my migraine brain. I don’t travel well and I had to do a lot of it. I built in extra days on either end of the trip to adjust. So a trip that could have been 3 days, was always seven days minimum so I could properly take care of myself.

I’ve realized that I need to be more methodical about my trips home so I don’t overextend myself. I’ve experienced more than usual severe migraine attacks. I had thought maybe the beautiful salt air would help my migraine disease. I think I need to be in one place long enough to feel grounded.

With all that said, I never questioned whether we made the right decision. I’m close with Archer’s family. Archer’s mom sent my mom a heartfelt note that she would help take care of me when I needed it just like I was her own daughter. So precious! Over the years I’ve become good friends with his long-time friends in California; so much that I would be willing to say they would pick me over him if we ever got “divorced.” I’m blessed with support.

So what’s the point? Where are the words of wisdom about moving across the country or across town while keeping your migraines in check? I don’t have any. I’ve done the best I can. I made sure to be flexible, but nothing goes as planned. I’ve kept my doctors in DC in the loop until I am fully integrated into the UCLA healthcare system. Medically, I’ve felt supported by them and was able to make quick appointments when I was in town.

My point is actually, that I wanted to share with my migraine family a huge change in my life. As the year comes to a close, I want to know what you are proud of accomplishing in 2016. What are you looking forward to doing in 2017? Nothing is too small or too big to share. Don’t be shy, let’s celebrate the positive when so much of our day is enveloped in negativity or pain.

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