Hope in Bracelets

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In honor of the first ever Chronic Migraine Awareness Day on June 29, 2012 I wanted to shine a spotlight on a website that is near and dear to my heart and my cause, www.hopeinbracelets.com. All bracelets on the site are handmade and designed by Michelle Marie Eberwein.

Michelle suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Degenerative Disc Disease of the spine — all incurable disorders, much like chronic migraines. Finding a cure is as important to Michelle as it is to me. By wearing a Hope in Bracelets bracelet, you or a loved one can show your support for a number of causes. All bracelets that are for Chronic Migraine are $20 and 10-15%  of the proceeds go to the National Headache Foundation. I have one that I wear every day and it is quite a lovely addition to my growing arm party.

I am excited and hopeful that the migraine and headache community is finally being heard and making their cause known. I feel that now more than ever there are advancements being made and there are positive changes coming thanks to a lot of active sufferers such as Michelle. Many people are working hard to try to create more research, treatment, and awareness for chronic migraine and headache sufferers. Join me in wearing purple and red tomorrow and spread the word!



My Inner Katniss

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I am the baby in a family of successful, outspoken, type-A, self-sufficient bad-asses. I’ve always been proud of the family I was born into but it hasn’t always been easy being deemed the “weak” one. It seems like whether it’s sports or business my family members are always excelling and I’ve always felt myself trying a little bit harder to find my niche and keep up, even long before any chronic illness came into the picture.

My big sister and I used to play Gladiators — a fight to the death, where we would stand on top of one of our beds and hit each other until the other fell off. I always fell off first.

When my idea of catching the softball was to stick my glove in the air, close my eyes and hope for the best, my parents agreed it was best to pull me from the team. Everyone felt a little bit safer with me watching from the sidelines and cheering on my sister instead.

So when I started getting migraines in 8th grade and had to stop playing basketball, something that I finally found out I was good at, it made me feel weak and left out from my competitive family of all-stars. The rest of my days became crowded with doctor appointments, tests, surgeries, missed days of school. . . soon there was no doubt in anyone’s mind — I was the weakest link. Goodbye.

But now looking back on all that I’ve been through I would never use weak as a term to describe me. I think though I may feel physically weak at times, my mentality has never been stronger. I don’t know that anyone could go through what I go through on a daily basis. I have a severely high tolerance for pain. Though I may look normal on the outside most days I have some degree of a headache that’s only a fraction of the type of headache the average person has experienced, and hopefully will ever experience, in their lifetime. Some might have given up by now, and believe me there are many times when I have thought about it, but its my mental toughness that keeps me going. My body has put me through a lot and has tested my limits. But I refuse to let it break me.

Recently, my strength was tested yet again.  I got a new medicine to try from the doctor. It’s an injection with medication in it to stop a migraine once it has developed. At first, I was very against it. I didn’t think I could give myself a shot. I am extremely afraid of needles and couldn’t come to terms with the idea. Granted, I waited till I got the news that they came out with a needless injection. . . but that’s neither here nor there.

Whenever I find myself about to chicken out, I take a deep breath and say to myself, WWKD “What Would Katniss Do?” You know. . . Katniss Everdeen . . . the kick ass heroine of one of the greatest trilogies of all time The Hunger Games. Because say what you will about the hype or the tweens, this heroine was one mentally tough chick who was able to do what she had to in order to survive and do the right thing for herself and her family. I admire her and if she helps me get through one day without a migraine, then so be it.

I’ve had to give myself lots of shots and though it never gets easier, the small amount of pain for a short period of time is worth the possibility of eliminating the extreme pain in my head for an extended period of time.

You never know what you are capable of until you are pushed to the limits. I’m sure Katniss didn’t think that she was capable of killing anyone before she volunteered for the Hunger Games.

Migraineur or Masochist?

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Lately I’ve been wondering about the term masochist and what properly determines whether one falls under the category. I bet a lot more people qualify than they may realize. By my definition I think that all chronic migraine sufferers fit the profile, myself included.

I know I’m not the only one who hesitates to take medication and treat myself at the first sign of a migraine. It sounds crazy. Here you have a solution, the antidote to your kryptonite and yet you dare hesitate? Madness, pure madness I tell you! Why would anyone want to suffer? Especially because the faster you take these medications the faster and more effective their results. But still every time I find myself hesitating, debating with myself, those demons and angels perched on each shoulder, arguing over what is best, bargaining…

“Well, it’s not that bad maybe I can handle it. Maybe it will go away… ”

“Are you kidding? You know it won’t go away. Just take the damn medication.”

“But it’s so expensive. And you only get a certain amount allotted to you each month. Save it for a more severe situation, when you need it more. You don’t want to run out this early in the month.”

You’re supposed to treat your migraine within the first hour of feeling symptoms in order to treat it most effectively. A majority of the time I wake up with a migraine, which means I’m already behind, I’ve already missed my opportunity and then I’m left with the decision of wasting my medicine on a migraine that has already taken form and risking the possibility that medicine might not work. Or I find myself remaining hopeful that the headache isn’t that bad and it might surpass, which is crazy because that hardly ever happens.

Then there’s also the side effects of the medication. Of course, no medicine comes without its perks. Each medicine in all its forms, whether its nasal spray, pill, or injection makes me tired and sluggish. I usually need to accompany my medicine with a large dose of caffeine. I have a standing order at Starbucks.

Then there’s the issue of is this headache really worth it? Because insurance only gives me so many meds per month and I need to use them wisely. I think, “Well I only have 3 more left for the month and it’s only the 10th. Maybe I should have it for a more severe case.”

Am I being rational or am I simply being a masochist, forcing myself to suffer without reason? I don’t know. I’d like to think there’s some rationality behind my madness.

I find a tiny bit of comfort in knowing that I am not the only migraineur who thinks this way. However, I so desperately wish there was a solution. . . that we could all have enough medicine to cover us for the entire month, or we never got any headaches and didn’t need any medicine at all. But until that day comes, I guess I’ll still be fighting my demons.