I Don’t Know How She Does It

My wife and I have been together for the last seven years. In that time, I have learned what it truly means to be a caregiver to someone who suffers from chronic migraine. I have seen first-hand what she goes through on a daily basis to try to make it through another day. It has been an eye opening experience for me.

Amanda is one of the most driven people I know. She graduated high school forty credits into a Bachelor’s degree. While she was completing her degree, she discovered a bigger interest so she decided to complete two bachelor’s degrees at the same time. A few years later, she went back and earned her Master’s degree.

During the time while she was in school, she also held two separate jobs. At least one of those jobs was always in management. Amanda maintained an almost perfect GPA while working full-time, rescuing and sheltering abandon horses after hurricane Ike and helping start an NPO meant to bring awareness for people who suffer with chronic migraines. She did all of this while dealing with pain almost constantly.

My episodic migraine

While I was deployed to Iraq from 2004-2005, I began suffering from episodic migraines. There is no way to tell for sure what caused it to start. As an infantry soldier, I dealt with IED’s (improvised explosive device), small arms fire, tank and artillery fire and impacts, rocket propelled grenades and mortars ranging in size, outgoing and incoming. At the same time however, I also developed high blood pressure, and was constantly in a state of dehydration for extended periods of time. I suppose any of those things individually could cause the occasional migraine, in my case it was simply a combination of all of those things that started it all.

The first time I had a migraine, I thought I was going to die. I had no idea what was causing it, or for that matter, what would make it stop. It was so intense that I could barely keep my eyes open. My head was throbbing like there was a little drummer boy pounding away on the inside of my head. In the end, an injection of morphine did the trick, and I was back on my feet soon thereafter.

Down for the count

To this day, when I have a migraine, I am out of commission. I rarely have any noticeable early warning. So much so that I feel weak in comparison to my wife. I know it is not a competition, but I truly feel weak when I have watched her for years, deal with pain in stride and keep pushing forward.

She continuously attempts to reassure me that it really is okay that my migraines shut me down, but I still feel somehow like less of man because I can’t keep up. I have seen my wife go about her own daily to-do list with tears in her eyes just to keep getting things accomplished around the house.

As the primary caregiver to my wife, I have learned that even when the pain is at its worst, life goes on. It doesn’t wait for either of us to recover or feel better. It simply keeps moving forward, leaving us the choice of how to press on. We all have to make that choice individually, one migraine at a time. Weak, strong or indifferent, we all experience and deal with pain in different ways. Each person’s pain is their own. No other person can ever experience exactly what you do. Your ability to charge forward, or the inability to function, does not take away from the level of suffering you experience.

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