Gambling and Winning - Despite the Pain

I opened all of our curtains to let the light in.

I had to get out of the house. I literally have not been out of the house in 12 days. Even if you’ve never had a horrific and lengthy migraine attack, perhaps you can relate if you’ve had a bout with the flu or a broken leg. After a few days trapped inside, there’s a desperation to get back into the swing of things and see the world again. But when you do, it’s like watching a slow-motion movie. The neighborhood looks weird. And suddenly you realize everyone else has been proceeding with their lives while you’ve been holed up.

It’s a gamble

After 12 days of one of the most intense migraine attacks I can remember, I decided to take my son to school. I even took the dog along so I could walk her on a trail near his school after drop off, as I try to do on my well days. I realized that going out in the world like this was a gamble:  too much activity too soon after such a tremendous attack might cause me to backslide into pain. But I had to believe that this unrelenting, intractable migraine was finally loosening its grip. There were signs that perhaps this was the case. Little windows of wellness. Well, that’s an overstatement. Not wellness, per se, but breaks from severe to at least moderate pain.

Stepping out for fresh air

I dropped off my son and headed into the forest with my dog. With every step onto the forest floor, I felt my tight body loosen a bit. For 12 days I’ve basically been in a fetal position, with my muscles contracted. As I headed up an incline, I was incredibly weak and shaky from all the time in bed, but I felt my chest open. I breathed deeply and inhaled the moist morning air. I felt it fill my lungs. I’ve been taking shallow breaths for the last week, in an effort to simply live through the pain. This migraine has been uniquely intense. It’s been the eye-watering, relentless, severe, can’t-talk-through-the-pain-pain that can break even the most experienced migraineur.

I watched as my dog leaped along the trail ahead of me. She is such a source of pure joy. She embodies happiness. It fills my spirit with warmth just to watch her go. I smiled and sang out to her as we went.

When I got home, I had to give her a bath because she had run through a creek and rolled in the mud. My pain began creeping back up while doing so. Like a wave making its way from the back of my neck up and over my head to land in my eyes. Despite that reality, I made a nice lunch that I knew would be nourishing. But by the time it was ready, I was too nauseated from the pain to eat.

Was it worth it?

Of course I wondered whether or not I had caused myself to backslide by going out into the world. Did I mobilize too soon and do too much after such a tremendous attack? Probably. Perhaps if I had stayed at home; remained quiet and continued to rest, I would’ve stabilized and been stronger and more able to handle that activity the following day.

I pulled the curtains closed. Even with my pain on the rise, I know my outing was worth it. Seeing nature, moving my sore body, and inhaling fresh air deep into my lungs was absolutely therapeutic. Who’s to say I wouldn’t have ended up with this rise in pain even if I had stayed in bed? At least now, I’ve begun to replenish and nourish my empty reserves.

How do you approach that delicate window of time in which you might be finally emerging from a tough and long migraine attack?

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