Since I last wrote, I have been reading so many insightful essays and stories on Migraine.com. It has been helpful and validating; but, at the same time, sometimes, when I read, I feel like a wound that has just barely been scabbed over has just been ripped off. Is this a good thing, I wonder? Or, are those sores really not healing but actually festering with infection just under the surface and needing to be aired out in order to heal?
As I approach my 49th birthday, I realize that this milestone of ending a decade--a decade that has been plagued by migraines--has caused old wounds to resurface. I look at the "end of my youth" and feel like I got into bed in my thirties and am now trying to leave it by fifty. The thing is, anyone, with migraines or not, could look back with regret at what wasn't done, achieved, or celebrated. Am I so very different from the masses of other people in the world? Yes and no.
Yes, I have a debilitating illness that has affected all aspects of my life, that has limited my ability to work and build a successful career. It is unpredictable, misunderstood by most people, under-researched, and stigmatized by blaming the patient. Yet, I am not my migraine. Despite that illness, I have friends, family, things that I love to do, and work that I have managed to accomplish. Am I so different from an immigrant who must work a lower-paying lower-level job because his or her credentials are not up to our American standards? I don't think so. I think everyone has his or her own barriers to achieving goals. It is how we surmount those barriers that really defines us.
So, with that said, I am going to change the framework of my vision: I am going to celebrate what I have achieved despite the migraines, not what I have not done because of them. After all, life is a series of obstacles; very few are graced with a life of easy roads, clear sailing ... pick your metaphor.
Speaking of metaphors, lately, I have wanted to run the Boston Marathon to raise money for Crohn's and Colitis--a disease that affects members of my family. Perhaps, rather than thinking "I can't," I should try "I think I can," just like in The Little Engine that Could, one of my favorite children's books. If I run it, then I can celebrate. If for some reason, I fail to, I can celebrate my attempt. If we are lucky, our lives are marathons--some parts are easy down hills, others are straightaway sprints, and some are just heartbreaking uphill climbs. I would rather a marathon for a life, than a 50-meter sprint.
As for work, to the best of my abilities, I will be writing more, creating more, and teaching more. That is all anyone can ask of another. That is all my husband and I say to our children, "Do the best you can. You do not need to be perfect. You just need to be you." I would rather be me than anyone else, so why not celebrate that instead of picking at scabs and re-opening old wounds?
Have you shared your migraine story with us yet?