A Not So Fairytale Life Story…
I was 12 years old on that dreadful school day so many years ago…the day my whole life would change and not for the better. I woke up with an unexplainable weakness and pain and an overwhelming fear of what could be wrong with my little body. I carried myself down the stairs and tried to gather myself enough to get ready for school. I had just got my hair cut the day before and so I stood in the bathroom as my mom curled my hair. All I remember from that point was grabbing onto the wall as everything went black…there I was on the bathroom floor, unconscious, my mom had just saved me from crushing my head on the tub. To this day she said she doesn’t know how she was able to carry me into the living room to get help. She sent my brother across the street for the EMT and after his quick assessment they rushed me to the hospital, and I still was still dead to the world…
I remember waking up to this crushing fist rubbing my sternum trying to bring me to. I tried opening my eyes but the piercing light, and the noise and the doctors all left me screaming in an unforgettable explosion of pain in my head…
After several boughts of tests and a week in the hospital my doctor diagnosed me with migraines. I had no idea the torturous path that was ahead of me and the struggles I would face with this mystery diagnosis I had just recieved.
I spent my junior high and high school years known as the “sick girl”. I was experiencing Basillar Migraines, and would pass out with everyone I got and there was no exception if one hit in the middle of class. My scariest one came when I was in highschool history class and I completely went blind in both eyes. I thought that was the end.
I spent more time in the hospital those years than I did in school. The stress of trying to make up homework all the time was almost more than I could handle. And the depression that set in everytime I missed a school function, prom, or hanging out with friends had devestating effects on my life and self esteem.
The day I graduated with my class was a bigger accomplishment for me than it was for most of my classmates. To have suffered and overcome the beaten path, was the encouragement I needed that day.
After many struggles with college and trying to work full time to pay all my medical bills, I was able to complete a course in Phlebotomy and Emergency Medical Technician at a local college. I went on to get a job at a local hospital.
The last year and a half have been the worse so far…I was hospitalized 5 times last year and nearly died twice from complications of the migraines. I suffered a life threatening Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome reaction to a new migraine medication they were trying and I spent 7 days in ICU fighting for my life. I am forever scarred from the burns the medication induced on my body. A couple months later I was hosptialized with a debilitating migraine and was over-sedated and unattended and went into respiratory arrest. For reasons I don’t understand to this day, I survived but not without permanent memory loss.
This year, I have had 2 hospitalizations and multiple ER visists…and as a result of the many absences from work…I lost my job this week after working 7 years there. I have spent so many days at work trying to push through the pain, stepping away to vomit and coming back trying to focus on the tasks ahead. But…it wasn’t enough. I am now at the young age of 26 considered disabled from these furious and debilitating migraines. I have met one trial after another and spent so long fighting to stay as a somewhat “normal” part of society. But with migraines, there is no such thing as “normal”. It’s a disease that is not well understood, it is very real, very debilitating, yet it is the first thing to be swept under the rug when you need medical help.
My migraines today are different than when I was young. I haven’t passed out from one in years. But I do experience stroke like symptoms with them. Facial numbness, speech slurring, etc. I ususally lose vision in one or both eyes, and in the last year I have had uncontrolable vomiting. Maxalt, Zofran and Vistaril work well if I catch it in time…if not, I have to give myself suppositories for pain and shots for nausea/vomiting. And most often I end up in the ER/Hospital for fluids and pain control if unable to get under control at home. Hormonal migraines have been the worst and it’s an ongoing battle trying to settle things down.
I have lost many friends along the way, I have been called some horrible things, and judged without an ounce of compassion. Now, this battle just got bigger and I’m going to fight harder to raise awareness to my community and to the world that these are NOT just a “headache”, they are my life and a battle that I can’t afford to lose! My life quote has become, “Dont wait for the storm to pass, Instead learn to dance in the rain.” There is a lot of rain and a lot of storms in my life right now, but I’ve got an umbrella and my rain boots and I’m heading into battle…