Thinking About Tomorrow

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Tomorrow is a big day for me. It is the day I have been waiting for. It has the day I have been working towards for over a year. Tomorrow marks the end of a campaign I started over a year ago, a campaign of epic proportions. Why then am I scared out of my mind?

Botox for migraine is currently the only medication for chronic migraine that has been approved by the FDA that is strictly for migraines. Sure there are the pills I take nightly but those aren’t actually designated migraine medications. One is used primarily to treat epilepsy, another to treat depression and another to treat high blood pressure. Sounds like quite the cocktail, right? Especially considering I don’t have any of those conditions. But I take them because as a side note they also have been found to maybe prevent migraines so I overlook all the other stuff in favor of a glimmer of hope that I may find some relief in them.

But with Botox for migraine comes an exciting new opportunity — the possibility of lessening the amount of medications I take and getting some real results. Finally I have something to thank my guilty pleasure, the Real Housewives, for other than just allowing me to escape my own reality every once and a while. Because believe it or not it was women who were getting Botox for cosmetic reasons who first discovered their added benefit. They realized that as a bonus to a wrinkle-free existence, they were no longer getting headaches. So then doctors did more research and found that Botox actually did treat migraines and the manufacturer began their pursuit of FDA approval and reimbursement for medical use.

After talking to my neurologist and deciding that I would be a good candidate for the treatment, he had one of his employees go ahead with trying to get approval from insurance. Now I know working with insurance is never an easy process. Trust me, when you have as many medical issues as I have over the course of my life you get familiar with it, but my doctor has an employee that’s entire job is dedicated to getting approval for and scheduling Botox appointments for his patients. An entire staff just for Botox approval! Maybe that should have been my first red flag. But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take over a year to make this appointment happen. Honestly, I thought my medical history would speak for itself and maybe it would take a couple months tops. But with the hoops I’ve had to jump through and the phone calls I’ve had to make over this past year, it’s surreal that this day has actually become a reality. And now that it’s here I’m freaking out.

I mean… 31-35 injections in my forehead, scalp, head, neck and shoulders? Why was I fighting so hard for this again??

It’s actually not so much about the pain of the injections. That I think I can handle. I mean I live with chronic pain everyday. I have a pretty high tolerance as it is. It’s more so the reaction I may or may not have afterwards. The unknown. And what if it doesn’t work?

And of course there’s the fear of changing my appearance. I mean I know the only visible part the injections go in is my forehead. And many will say what a great side effect — a wrinkle-free forehead! But while I love watching the Real Housewives, I really don’t want to end up looking like them before I hit 30. And while, yes, my worries may seem irrational they are mine and mine alone. And because without them I would not be human.

I have to just keep reminding myself it’ll be worth it in the end… Probably. If it works. But I won’t know for at least 9 months as it usually takes 3-4 treatments to really tell so until then I just have to keep a positive attitude and low expectations. One day at a time. And tomorrow is a big day.

 

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.