I am More Than My Diagnosis

My sister had migraines as a child so I knew what was happening with my first onset the end of freshman year in college. In my mid-50s now, the migraine aspect of my life has been a journey: a growing, changing part of me that has been a menace and mentor, an interruption and way to focus, a point of pain and a teacher of compassion.

As a young woman, the attacks were irregular, though debilitating for a few days at a time. I was strong physically and mentally and able to push through a lot, taking to bed for a couple days of the worst of it. After a car accident at 29 headaches grew more frequent and worse; I had more triggers and symptoms and spent years trying various therapies.

Besides migraine, I also had a growing list of other conditions, some from the accident. As time and life went on, as my children grew, I “fought” to be a part of my family while working to improve my health from all standpoints. My migraines were chronic and complicated. Eventually a neurologist determined my initial onset was from a head injury at age 12. He said it was not uncommon that children with head injuries develop symptoms such as migraine as young adults.

By my early-mid 40s I had created a regimen that let me live something of a life with my husband and children. I had to regularly talk to myself about accepting what I couldn’t change and allowing them to accept our life: we were making the best we could. My husband is incredible.
Our kids (now 29,25) each had a migraine on occasion as teens, handling it as though it were just a fact to manage.

This is not to say pain was absent: I have related to all the stories and metaphors written. I named my headaches different names for the level of pain or length of stay. It was a quick way to communicate without going into long descriptions. Long ago I realized when I concentrated on that, I felt worse, and felt worse longer: I gave power to the migraine. I felt more in charge when I focused on my abilities, my family, my regimen, my attitude. It is the same with all my other conditions: thyroid issue, Meniere’s disease, fibromyalgia (which it took years for me to accept), concussion syndrome and others.

I accept that migraine (and more) is a part of me, but I determined it would not define me.

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