BoomBoom. BoomBOOM. My pounding, screaming head throbs with each beat of my heart. With migraine in full force, life as a mom has just gotten complicated. The afternoon whirlwind of kids throwing bookbags to the floor, fighting over who gets to wash hands first, snack orders, and relaying the day’s events tumbles through my head like rocks in a dryer.
I manage to smile, request quiet, and get them upstairs to play so I can crawl under the covers for a nap. Sometimes they play and leave me alone. Sometimes they need the toy at the tippy top of the shelf. And they need it now. Sometimes there is screaming followed by tears. Still, it is better than when they were young and I couldn’t nap at all. I lay on the floor in misery as my nine-month-old used me as a trampoline while I willed myself not to vomit.
For nearly 30 years, migraines have racked my head with pain and my stomach with unending nausea. I spent many Friday nights of my fourth-grade year in bed with a migraine. Many times I threw up. I gagged on horse-pill-sized extra-strength Tylenol, once coughing one across the room. I’ve missed out on countless events. The ones I suffered through, I missed out on in spirit.
I’ve spent many hours lying in bed with an ice pack on my head, pitying myself, wondering what I did to deserve this curse. I’ve bawled, wanted to bang my head against the wall. I’ve begged and pleaded for mercy and done everything short of making a deal with the devil for the pain to go away. There are certainly some things I would rather not have. Even when I was younger, I knew I’d rather go through a lifetime of this than have something far worse.
I’ve tried massage, biofeedback, and TENS, which is some kind of electrical stimulation that frankly just freaked me out. I’ve tried lots of medicines, and most don’t work. There are some I just won’t take because I still have to drive my kids around. I know my triggers: stress, weather changes, hormones. Things mostly out of my control.
Friends offer to take the kids off my hands while I sleep off the effects of the medicine, but I always say no. I appreciate it. Everyone has their own problems, their own days when they don’t feel well, and I can’t have people rescuing me every time I feel bad. It would be often and I’d spend all of my good days repaying favors.
I deal. I muddle through the afternoon, take the kids outside, struggle through homework, put something that resembles dinner on the table. It may be a box of mac and cheese and a bag of carrots. It may be some leftover limp pancakes. The kids know. “Mommy has a heddik.”
I wish my family didn’t have to deal with this several times a month. But this is my life and this curse has made me who I am. A curse can be a gift. For every head-splitting migraine day, there is a next day. And that day after, when I feel good, I don’t take anything for granted.