Many of you know I am a pain. I know I am a pain. I am a self-confessed pain in the butt. I know I am a pain to politicians – Tim Huslekamp – R KS I’m looking at you. I know I am a pain about issues I don’t agree with. Sometimes I am even a pain about issues I do agree with. Generally I am just a giant pain. Here’s what many of you don’t know. I am almost always in some sort of physical pain.
You are probably thinking, “aren’t we all sister.” Like almost every person on the planet I get headaches. Heck, you probably have a headache just reading this. My headaches aren’t like most people’s headaches. In fact, I hesitate even calling them “headaches”. A headache sounds like I need to stop making dinner for Susie and Johnny and lie down for few moments, putting a warm compress across my forehead and “voila!” all better and back to normal in a matter of moments. My headaches are more like raging beasts.
I get two types of beasts – hereditary migraines and a type of beast called “cervigenetic headaches” from three herniated discs in my neck from an accident I had in my teens. It’s the jackpot of headaches.
I always wanted to be the queen of something. Turns out I’m the queen of headaches.
My hereditary migraines probably go all the way back in my family to caveman times where the only relief my ancestors got was hitting themselves over the head with a wooden club until they knocked themselves unconscious to get pain relief. I got my first migraine when I was about eight after a t-ball game on a warm summer day. I’ll never forget that day. I was running around the yard and suddenly I couldn’t see things right. I looked at a tree and only saw half the tree. That was the tunnel vision. The pain started shortly after. As a child, I would get these beasts every six months or so. Once I got a headache so bad I lost the ability to speak correctly.
As I got older the headaches got worse. We are talking about the kind of pain where no room is dark enough, no space is quiet enough and I spend hours suffering from blinding pain that leaves me vomiting and exhausted days afterward.
I have triggers like all migraine sufferers – hot days, red wine, smelly cheese, exercise, msg, furniture polish, carpet smells, high tide, if the planets are aligned correctly. The one and only glass of red wine I’ve ever drank was at my cousin’s bar mitzvah back in the 80s. That was one of my top 10 headaches I’ll never forget. The thought of no red wine causes people to gasp in horror. How do you manage? If drinking a glass of vino would cause you to want to take your brain out from the pain, trust me you wouldn’t miss the red stuff.
Before you even start by saying, “have you tried?” The answer is yes, I’ve tried it all. The list goes on and on….chiropractic, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, reike, chakra alignment, ancient Native American healing, magnets, yoga, meditation, pain pills, nerve blocks, physical therapy etc. etc. My bathroom looks like a senior citizen’s – ice packs, biofreeze, muscle relaxers, migraine medicine, anti-nausea mediation, pain killers and other potions all to help alleviate the pain.
Between the migraines and the cervicogenic headaches, I am a frequent visitor at many local urgent care clinics and emergency rooms. I immediately announce upon arrival, “it’s not a brain toomah” in my best Arnold Swarzenegger impression.
Thank God it really isn’t a tumor. It’s just pain. Chronic pain. If I’m not in pain I’m waiting for pain. When will it hit next? What is the pain going to ruin this time? What plans will I have to cancel? What fun thing will I have to miss? Pain has brought me to the point of suicide. The pain has destroyed relationships, worn out friendships and hurt my career. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on medical bills and that’s just this year.
I was recently classified as a “chronic pain sufferer”. I’m 42 years old. I’m not what I have in mind when I think of someone who suffers from “chronic pain”. I think of old people in nursing homes. Not me. Not people my age. That’s why I’m sharing my story.
I thank God that I’m not dying from a terminal illness. It’s just pain. So now that I’ve been labeled as a chronic pain sufferer, now what? What color ribbon do I get to wear? Where is the 5k that I sign up for? Pain is such an interesting thing. It’s not a terminal illness like cancer. There isn’t a struggle to overcome or a huge battle to wage. It’s just pain and it is truly a pain.
If you suffer from pain, how do you deal with it?
If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic pain, please share your story. I think we all have a lot to learn from each other.
The queen of headaches,