For the past 25 years there has been a beast guarding my door. He is both fickle and cruel, blocking my passage many times with his stinking, painful, debilitating snarl. I have been forced to miss special family events and important meetings, had to cancel weekend excursions and cozy gatherings with friends. At times, the beast denies me the basic everyday comings and goings necessary to run a household --picking up groceries or delivering an excited child to a playdate. But unlike the mythical gatekeeper Cerberus, my beast does not have two heads, he shares mine. His name is Migraine.
We’ve come to a certain sort of peace at this point in our lives together. He agrees not to mock outright my foolish attempts to make plans in advance and eagerly chomps my persistent and frequent pharmaceutical cocktails that I toss at him like grenades poorly disguised as beef bones. Occasionally the grenades hit their mark and subdue the beast long enough for me to enjoy a blissful day of freedom, soaking in the warm sun and engaging in the kinds of social human interactions that most take for granted.
My life has been whittled and crafted over time to his desires, not my own, and I bury the resentment much like he would a bone. I stay at a job that allows me the flexibility to work from home eliminating the triggers that often awaken the beast, like driving, and allowing me to manage my pain on those days that weather, or hormones or any one of the myriad other factors occur that cause his fur to shiver and his head to rise, ready to bar my entrance into a normal life.
When I recount stories of my difficult pregnancy and my son’s preterm birth, I am almost wistful, because despite hospital stays, complications and months of uncertainty, there was one overarching positive. The beast has a clear and present fear of maternity, as Migraine took leave for the duration of my pregnancy. The irony of course, was that he left the prison keys with his mate, Bed Rest.
I think about how we’ll grow old together and I wonder if he will die before me. Will I eventually find the weapon that works -- one that I can wrap in bacon and liver and toss to his slobbering jaws and be done forever? Or will I continue to be prisoner to a creature within me? How much more of my life will I miss as I lay in a dark room, hearing his hot, wet breath?
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