If there is one thing I wish someone had told me when I started having migraines, it would be this:
People who experience migraines are genetically predisposed to experience migraines. Because it is a genetic condition without a cure, learning to manage chronic migraine can mean making big, long-term lifestyle changes.
Oh wait! I was told this! Fairly early on I read the incredibly straight-forward and accessible book titled Migraine: your questions answered by Carol A. Foster (available through the Toronto Public Library: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM331066&R=331066). The book starts with this concept, and then proceeds to suggest all the big lifestyle changes that can help migraineurs. But even as I understood, in theory, the idea that ♥ Migraine and I ♥ might be entering into a serious relationship, and that caring for this blossoming relationship might extend to all parts of my life, I was (am) not ready to accept that.
And of course, accepting such a concept is difficult for many reasons.
1. Who readily accepts that their abilities have just drastically changed, and that they can no longer do some of the things they used to do regularly, including things that bring them joy, validation, comfort and such? Nobody! That’s really hard to do! Singing, playing the piano, pushing my body to bike and swim fast, going out with friends after dark (!), and doing my job have generally taken a back seat lately to yoga, naps, eating every three hours, going to medical appointments, and staying in my apartment turning into a cat. I am learning to love turning into a cat, going for slow bike rides while all the other cyclists pass me (ironic that my migraines might have been exacerbated by a fall as a result of passing another cyclist?) and planning my next low-tyramine snack, but I miss the aforementioned activities, and want them all back. Now.
2. Modern Western medicine often tells us that if you can find the cause, then presto! There’s the cure! So, naturally, all the lovely caring people in my life and I tend to ask get-to-the-root-of-the-problem questions like:
“Was it the four years of extreme and incredibly dorky orthodontics?”
“Is it because you worry too much?”
“Do you eat to much garlic?
“Is it because you are allergic to teenagers??”
Surely, if I just find that one magical cause and cut it out of my life, TA DA! Everything will go back to how it was. Right? Right?
Wrong. But when people ask what the cause is, and I say it’s just my genes, and they say, yeah your jeans are too tight… I was gonna say something… and I say, well, ok, but actually I meant that migraine is a poorly understood, invisible genetic neurological condition that is sometimes likened to epilepsy or Parkinson’s… it sort of a downer. But it’s the truth.
Understanding this concept in theory is the best I can do right now. And just like the people who worry about me, I can’t stop wishing the pain away or hoping that if I can just find the right medication, acupressure points, or miracle yoga pose then I’ll be able to forget about the whole thing! In the meantime, I am making big lifestyle changes to cut out as many migraine triggers as possible, but I’m gonna give myself license to be at least a little pissy about it.