What makes me proud

My story starts out like so many…I had my first migraine at the age of 6. It was a snowy day and as my friends and I were playing, the sun came out, dazzling against the snow. Within an hour, the pain started….and built up…and then I was vomiting and terrified. My mom said I had “snow blindness” and put me to bed.

Over the next 40 years, the pain came and went, and came and stayed…only brief periods of true remission were ever achieved. I could write an article about all that was missed, vacations ruined, family never quite believing that anyone could have that much pain that consistently, which led to the moniker “hypochondriac” when I was a kid. I could go on for pages about the treatments, medications, “helpful suggestions,” but we all know how well all of that works.

I can’t write an article about how I’m glad I have a chronic illness (two now, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia three years ago); I’m not glad. I resent the hell out of it. But, I am proud. All of us who live every day with this constant hell pounding through our heads should be proud.

I’m proud of the high school diploma, the Bachelor’s degree, the Master’s degree, and being halfway through my second Master’s degree. I had to work harder to achieve success in school and my profession, knowing that I can NEVER procrastinate. I have to assume that tomorrow I will be incapacitated and plan accordingly. If today is a good day, I have to do as much as I can in as little time as possible.

I’m proud of my success in my field, and being known as a true “Nancy With a Smiling Face.” I’m warm and supportive with a great sense of humor, features that are vital when you work with people who have disabilities. I stay at work unless the pain gets to an 8 (on the 1-10 scale that we are all so familiar with), and while I’m there no one can see my pain on my face. We all do this; apparently I’ve perfected it. Yay. I silently celebrate every full week of work I manage to complete.

I’m especially proud of my marriage and relationship with my children. I’ve been ridiculously happily married for over 26 years, and our children are grown. My husband is the most supportive man I’ve ever met; he’s sat in the ER for hours with me, ordered me back to bed when I’ve tried to go to work when my head is absolutely killing me, and done the bulk of the parenting when I was unable to so much as watch anyone walk without vomiting. My children have developed strong empathy skills and are both going into educational/therapeutic fields. They’ve both told me that they admire my strength and use me as their barometer; when faced with an unusually difficult task, they ask themselves if Mom would be able to do it…and then they do it.

I have a saying; “I was born with a headache, I’ll die with a headache, but in between I’m going to LIVE with a headache!” If I had waited to get this disease under control before starting my life, I would never have had a life. My life is far from perfect, but it works. It could work better, but I’m happy with the life I’ve managed to create. And I bet that’s true of many of you.

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