Give me a book, and I’m lost for days. I’ll read almost anywhere, except in a moving vehicle, you know, that “little” issue of headaches that come from motion sickness. Often, a doctor would explain something to me about migraine, and I wouldn’t immediately grasp the concept. Let him/her give me a reading list and not only did I jump right into reading, but I also gained a better understanding of what was going on with me and my disease.
I absolutely love reading. It’s my outlet, my way to learn, my way to escape. When everyone else may be watching tv or playing a game, I’d rather read. Sure, when we go on vacation, I’ll hike, swim, or even zipline, but when we’re done, can I go read, please? Some sun, a lounge chair, and a good book are the essentials for my perfect getaway.
One day, I was reading a good, entertaining, suspenseful book and the words disappeared. This was also the day I knew something had to change. Well, not just something, EVERYTHING!
When I couldn’t read the words, I thought, “Hmph, maybe my eyes are dry.” So, I put in some eye drops. A few minutes later, the words were still blurry.
Then I thought, “Maybe I’m tired or stressed. Let me try to take nap.” I went to rest for a bit. As soon as my head hit the pillow, an intense pain rushed through the upper right side of my body.
I started to feel numb, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, and my vision was now so blurred I couldn’t see. If you know anything about my story, then you know, I have hemiplegic migraine. I didn’t know this at the time. I’d had the symptoms before but didn’t realize how hemiplegic migraine is different from other types of migraine. I was three days out of the ER, where I was treated for migraine. I was rushed to the ER because I had level 10 pain on the right side of my head. Intense pain can induce nausea and vomiting, which I also had. The ER doctors and nurses gave me a strong muscle relaxer and nausea medication. They also performed a CT scan, just to be safe. I was released from the ER within a few hours and went home feeling groggy but no longer in intense pain.
Three days later, I went back to my regular routine and soon experienced another painful headache. (The one I had after I started reading my good, entertaining, suspenseful book).
I had an intense headache for weeks. I couldn’t perform my typical activities and had to cancel practically all my plans. I’d known for a while about potential solutions for headache prevention, but I wasn’t putting many into practice. It took this intense, painful, and debilitating moment for me to analyze my lifestyle and start making changes‒some drastic, some small‒to transform my life and live as a woman with a chronic illness. It took, and still does take, an emotional toll on me, but I choose to live as a person who happens to have a chronic disease and not let my disease define me. Yes, I must make changes, and tweaks, and modifications, and so on, and so on, but I now live a happy, healthy life with less headaches.
I try to encourage anyone with a chronic illness to work to find solutions as early as you can. Let my story be an example and take steps to not reach your lowest point before you accept your illness and try to manage it as best you can.