These are my thoughts when the latest migraine comes on. They come without warning. They come without prejudice. They give no regard as to what I have planned out for my day. They are ruthless, and they suck. If you are a migraine sufferer, you know what I’m talking about. If you have a loved one that suffers migraines, you probably have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about it.
Let me give a brief run-down of the migraine, in case some of you don’t know about them. They are most commonly unilateral in nature, which means they cause pain on one side of the brain. They are commonly associated with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and visual disturbances. The visual disturbances, referred to as an aura, are bright lights that go across the opposite side of the visual field from the side of the brain that is being affected. So, if your migraine is occurring on the left side, your visual disturbances are seen on the right side of your visual field. Migraines are caused by vasodilation, or enlargement of the blood vessels.
Didn’t know you were going to get medical terminology in this blog today, did you? You’re welcome.
So enlargement of these vessels stretches the nerves that coil around them, causing a release of chemicals from the nerve fibers. The chemicals released cause inflammation, pain and further enlargement of the artery. The increased enlargement of the arteries magnifies the pain. Migraine sufferers are over twice as likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, the most common form of a stroke.
Sounds like a real picnic in the park, doesn’t it?
Migraines have many triggers. They can be brought on by alcohol, stress, hormonal changes, certain foods, sensory stimulus like bright lights and unusual smells, excessive physical exertion, disturbance in sleep pattern and barometric pressure, to name a few common triggers. There can also be genetic predisposition to suffering migraines. Both of my parents suffer migraines, so I guess you could say I was doomed. All three of my siblings have suffered migraines, though not to the extent and severity of mine.
My migraines are stress-induced. I know this for sure. I usually get one as a gift around the holidays. How nice. Definitely a gift I could do without, and would like to return for a full refund.
“Ahem! Excuse me? Miss? May I get a refund for this damaged brain? Possibly an exchange for a newer model, one that has been upgraded to ‘No Migraines Guaranteed!’? Yes? Refund or exchange, whatever I prefer? OK, thanks. That would be great.”
For three years in a row, I was blessed with a migraine just as family was sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at my house, or while I was preparing the meal. That was when I first started doing the Thanksgiving dinner, years ago, and I have since learned ways to make preparation easier on myself so as to avoid the migraine on those days. I have enjoyed more turkey, too, so that’s a plus.
Today’s migraine came on right after I pulled into the driveway at my folks’. It was pretty early in the morning. I was in a hurry to get out the door this morning so didn’t eat breakfast (BIG mistake #1). My body feels stress if I don’t eat a healthy meal within an hour to an hour and a half of waking.
I had a stressful day yesterday, which meant I didn’t eat well or pay much attention to my sleep (BIG mistake #2).
I always try to look at my days with Mom as routine, that this is just what we do today, the ins and outs of caring for her. I am pretty successful, 99 percent of the time, in tricking my brain to think that these days aren’t stressful.
But today wasn’t a success. My brain was on its game today, able to get around my trickery. It figured out my strategy, what I was trying to pull. Brain 1, Me 0, for today’s match.
I love my mother to the moon and down again, and around the stars and back again, and wouldn’t dream of not being there for her in her time of need. It’s just not a thought that has ever entered my mind, not doing what I do. But to say all the love in the world and desire and drive to do something can take away the stress from a situation is fooling yourself. I miss her. I miss all the things about a normal and routine mother/daughter relationship. Shopping, baking, walking around the block pushing babies in strollers, going to the movies…
All the missing causes stress. At least that’s what the brain thinks.
I’m definitely not blaming her for my migraines. Don’t misunderstand me there. It certainly was my own responsibility to take care of myself better yesterday with sleep and diet, which I didn’t. It is most definitely my own responsibility to take care of my body’s needs before it has to yell at me with all it’s force, “HEY! ARE YOU NUTS?? PAY ATTENTION! DON’T MAKE ME COME IN THERE AND GIVE YOU A RUDE WAKE-UP CALL!!”
And my migraines were certainly a part of my life before Mom’s diagnosis of cancer. And it’s most definitely not her fault she has this dreaded and deadly disease.
I just think sometimes as women we have this attitude of “one more thing needs to get done,” “someone else’s needs are priority over mine,” “no one will do it unless I do.” We are the caregivers, and some of these things are not thought consciously. But they are there, in the back of our minds, nonetheless.
Well, guess what? If you don’t pay attention to your own body and its signals, you aren’t gonna be very good for anybody. Not your kids, not your parents that need you, not your job. Not anybody or anything.
We need to listen to our bodies, feed and water it properly, give it proper rest and rejuvenation.
“What doesn’t get done today, will be there tomorrow. Let it go. Do what you can today, and let tomorrow take care of itself,” as my daddy says.
Wise words. Thank you, Daddy.
Rachelle Kreie is a Fruita mom, who is married with two children. Read her every other Thursday on FruitaMoms.com.