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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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • FayP
    1 year ago

    Wow, Steven, you touched a nerve! How far can I go in pain in comparison to others. The guilt get incredible sometimes. I even feel like a slacker, lazy, if I don’t push through the pain and keep accomplishing. I watch my husband deal with his pain (not migraine) and I lean on him a lot and I grapple with guilt over this. Should or shouldn’t doesn’t really matters; it is what it is. If logic worked, I wouldn’t be feeling guilty. So I guess I have to dig deeper in me and see where this illogical guilt is coming from, what the cause is. There is a truth, and I want to know it. Having to deal with the pain is enough; I don’t want to deal with emotional turmoil too. Thanks for bringing up a very touchy subject for type A personalities. I will talk to God and ask Him to show me what needs to be changed in me, and then ask Him to change it.
    Again, thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability.

  • Steven Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    You are so very welcome. Guilt seems to sneak up on everyone now and then and is definitely a hard thing to combat. What my wife has taught me is that everyone’s pain is their own. Everyone has a different pain threshold or tolerance level. You can’t feel guilty because your body is telling you something is wrong (which is what it is trying to do when we hurt). All any of us can do is, is all we can do. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Steven Workman.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    1 year ago

    Beautiful Steven, thank you for sharing!


  • John1381
    1 year ago

    Quite right Steven, you must never feel weak in comparison, migraine is so painful whatever its frequency. I have been chronic for longer than I can accurately remember but I have enormous sympathy for anyone with migraine no matter its occurence. It is so painful and debilitating. You are both an inspiration.

    Thanks for your posts.


  • Steven Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    John thank you so much for sharing your experience. Best wishes.
    Steven Workman

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