Sunday, February 5, 2012

Time Thieves: An Inside Look at Migraines

I can count on them. They are predictable foes, attacking reliably and when I most expect it. They save their assaults for holidays and special occasions, vacations and family gatherings. Or, worse, busy days at work. 

They want to destroy my day, and I usually allow them to do so, surrendering to their sly weapons and their overwhelming power over me. When they assault me, I am at my weakest, a normally tough girl gone soft and vulnerable. 

They are migraines, time thieves and day stealers. Ruthlessly sucking away moments of my life, moments I can never get back. Moments spent passed out in darkened rooms or at office desks with head in hands. Moments spent torturously driving home in traffic or trying to pretend for the sake of friends and family that pain isn’t tearing me apart. Moments lost forever. 

I’ve had them since I was a teenager. Since then, countless days have been spent in bed and in agony, fruitlessly wishing that the pain would just go away...if even for a moment. 

For me, migraines are hereditary, passed down to me from previous generations like my freckles and pale skin, my tendency to overanalyze and a love of animals. My mother has them, as do my aunt and grandmother. It’s our burden to bear. 

We’re not the only victims, however. Husbands and children are susceptible, too, helplessly entwined in our web of pain and paralysis. Countless weekend trips and holidays are sacrificed to the mighty migraine. Dinners and dates ruined. Frustration and annoyance trickle in to replace concern and sympathy, and adding to that incomparable pain of the migraine is the guilt that comes with disappointing your family.

"You've got a headache again?" become the most hated words of the English language. I've uttered them myself before...and I have had them asked of me. Usually, I do everything in my power to hide the pain...just to avoid that inevitable question and the inevitable defeat that comes with it.

Those who don't suffer from them can't understand them. To them, it's just a headache. I've heard that in their voices. Suck it up. Get over it. Why are you such a wimp? They may not say it; they may not even admit to thinking it, but it's always there. 

I wish there was a solution, a way to conquer the migraine. But alas, even medicine can only do so much.  And so, they are the one thing that we who know them can count on, these bringers of pain and disappointment, these takers of time.

Just take note, if you know someone who suffers from migraines, remember patience, remember understanding. Remember that resenting something your loved one can't control only makes the pain worse. And believe me when I say, it hurts enough. 

Do you have migraines? What do you do to conquer them? Does anything help? Do those around you understand?

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