Everything you like about who you are can change overnight

One moment I was happy, confident and single. I owned my own house, had my own business, and pretty much-accomplished everything I wanted to on a daily basis. I didn’t know what procrastination was. I always followed through with any goal I set.  I depended solely on myself to overcome any obstacles set in front of me.

The next thing I know I am getting migraines nearly every day. At 41 I felt like my life was over.  Now 47 it’s been 6 years of ups and downs dealing with this illness. Chronic migraines are more than just  headaches. They impact your ability to sleep, eat, move and speak. My balance, cognitive functions, and memory no longer are normal. I have arthritis caused by the headaches, it seems. Or maybe not, who knows. They know virtually nothing about the headaches. Maybe they are unrelated. I am on four different medicines including amitriptyline, or Elavil, the first medicine ever prescribed as an antidepressant. I take 30 pills a day, including my supplements.

Since I’ve gotten sick, I’ve had to give up most everything I care about. I used to be a person who exercised faithfully every day, often walking up to five miles. Now, most days  I can’t even manage around the block without it triggering a migraine. My career, which I had dedicated most of my energy to since I was 22, seems unable to sustain. I can’t work with children anymore because I’m unpredictable, unreliable and inattentive, something that makes those sacred relationships with little ones less than trustworthy. Friendships are similarly challenging to maintain, I have lost most of them. I was never really great at them to begin with, but the few I had were too hard to maintain. I didn’t have the energy to devote to socializing, and if I made plans, I would rarely be able to follow through. One of my great loves, cooking,  has become mostly impossible, because chopping and stirring cause neck pain that is unbearable, and it quickly leads to a migraine. Daily activities such as housekeeping, vacuuming and laundry are just not feasible for the same reasons. My new family which consists of a husband and two stepchildren, understand. They haven’t known me any different. Sad. I worry endlessly about modeling sloth and torpor, and about my failure to be a good role model. I often think about my life being over as if there isn’t a future. I hope I get better.

This week I am feeling especially sorry for myself because I have been sick for weeks after trying to take a family vacation, and I missed an important event in my stepsons’ life. It’s one that I can’t get back, and I know that it probably hurt him, even though he understands.

The truth is it’s better and I think it might be getting better. I don’t find myself driving down the wrong side of the street or vomiting during my work days anymore. I don’t cry at night because of the pain because it’s not as bad. My mood swings aren’t as bad and my hair, which used to fall out in clumps and no one knew why has stopped falling out. I have kept my job and am not on disability. Once in a while over the last year, I have a glass of wine. I am tempted to have several bottles, even though I don’t really like white wine, and that’s what is the safest to drink. I have a good husband who makes enough money so I don’t have to worry about medical costs. It’s just when I wake up and feel bad or off track I can’t say “I need to get it together this week” and then work really harder to stay on that diet, or focus on friendships, or working harder, or exercising, or going to church, or whatever it is, whatever it is I want to do. Because my body and health just fail me, and I am utterly powerless to move forward. And that sucks even more than the pain.

So I thought maybe writing would help, because I know I need to be honest about this, and mostly I pretend it’s not so bad. Maybe this will help others too. Stay tuned as I chronicle my recovery process in this blog. I wonder if I can keep it up?