Chronic Migraine Warrior

Chronic Migraine Warrior

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sick as a Dog

Well, I've been down with a bad sinus infection for the past week. :-( I went to the doctor Monday - he gave me a shot, some cough medicine, and antibiotics. I've tried snorting salt water, too. I can't sleep well because of the deep cough, and I can't breathe out of my nose or mouth (especially when I try to lay down, so I have to try to sleep propped up). And, of course, none of this helps the migraine pain that I already have... It's miserable!!! My husband drove into town a few days ago, so he's been taking good care of me. But, I hate spending holiday times feeling so horrible. I guess my immune system is just sooo weak right now. I really hope I start to feel better soon, though...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Identity, continued

As I was reading through some blogs / devotionals yesterday, I was given the opportunity to reflect on Jeremiah 18:3, 6b. God is the potter, and I am the clay... His work of art. This is a follow-up to my post, Identity.

The bolded quotes below are pieces of the devotional, Work of Art  by Wisdom Hunters, that really touched / moved me.
  • "We are God’s work of art." -- We are unique pieces of art that He has created and called for a purpose - to glorify Him.
  • "Clay that is moist and moldable is full of potential." -- We must allow ourselves to be molded by our potter in ways that we may have never even imagined. He is the artist, and only He can see the bigger picture.
  • "The molding process is not easy. Sometimes you feel discombobulated and shapeless. You know God is in control, but your circumstances have you feeling upside down and spiraling out of control. This is God’s wheel of wisdom. Uncertainty and dizziness is God’s opportunity to grip the dampened clay of your heart and form dependence on Him." -- Wow! This is how I feel right now... discombobulated and shapeless... I know God is in control... feeling upside down and spiraling out of control...
  • "He not only comforts you, but also conforms you into the image of His son, Jesus." -- We must remember that He loves us unconditionally.
  • "Sometimes it is the water of adversity that keeps the clay moist." -- God may use different methods to "keep the clay moist," but He has a plan for our lives. He is the potter, we are the clay.
  • "It is better to be in the hands of God, spinning in uncertainty, than to be on our own, risk-less and rest-less. You are a beautiful masterpiece in process that one-day will be completed by your Creator." -- This is so true. I would rather be spinning in uncertainty, knowing that I'm in God's hands, than having to rely on myself and on my own resources.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Changed Relationships, continued

I'm sad.   I'm angry.   I'm numb.

I know I don't keep in touch with people the way I should... and the way I truly want to, but I simply CAN'T. Some days, it's ALL I can do to get out of bed. So, in keeping people updated on how I'm doing or what treatment I'm trying now, I FAIL. I focus on my husband, my immediate family, and my doctors... and that's normally all or more than I can handle.

So, every time I receive a call, text, email, facebook message, etc... that comes across (even remotely) as "why didn't you tell me about this?" it's a HUGE reminder of how isolated I've truly become and how I've let another person down. It BREAKS my heart.

And, I can't handle it! I cry, and then I shut down because I've already spent all of my energy for today (and maybe tomorrow)... I have NOTHING left. I'm SORRY!!!

I thought that letting people know about this blog and how they could subscribe (so it would just send them an email, whenever the blog was updated) would help me be able to keep more people updated. But, I don't think a lot of the people I sent the email with the link to the blog read it. So, what am I to do?! I know that some of my immediate family reads it, and I'm so thankful for that and for them.
I've already discussed how my relationships have changed, but I feel like I've at least tried to keep people updated. And, I don't have the energy to fight that front anymore. The battles going on within me physically, emotionally, and spiritually are taking a much higher toll on me than the battle of interpersonal relationships.

After a rough evening and feeling / writing the above, I spent part of today in God's Word...

I was reading through some blog posts / devotionals by Wisdom Hunters, and several of them really touched my heart.

The first one dealt with False Accusations. While I know that this is too harsh for what this post is referring to, I found that some of the words spoke to how I was feeling. Here's a piece of the post.

"...Pray that your life, under fire, will be a blaze of blessing for many others who have suffered under the burden of injustice. It is imperative that you are consumed with Christ and not your false accusers. Feel empathy for them, yes. Pray for them, yes. Forgive them, yes. Fear them, no. Fear God only and forgive your false accusers.

Jesus walked this lonely road of false accusations. He forgave them because He knew they really didn’t know what they were doing. He gave them over to God and trusted Him with vindication in His timing. This road of injustice is not an easy one to travel, so travel with Jesus. Let him drive the process and trust Him with the results. “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a).

So much is out of your control, except your attitude. Be grateful for your ever-enduring advocate, Jesus, who stands by your side. He is your defense and your refuge as the rain of false accusations beat down on your life. Don’t give up on Him; He has not given up on you. He will see you through this very difficult time. Adversity with Jesus is much better than smooth sailing without Him. Your prayers and His peace will sustain you..." (False Accusations by Wisdom Hunters)

The other post that touched my heart was Love, Compassion, Faithfulness. The paragraph that really struck a chord with me is below. God IS and will ALWAYS be FAITHFUL!

"...People will fail you, but God is still faithful. Work will fail you, but God is still faithful. Your health will fail you, but God is still faithful. Finances will fail you, but God is still faithful. Circumstances will fail you, but God is still faithful. You will fail, but God is still faithful. Great is His faithfulness! God does what He says—now and forevermore..." (Love, Compassion, Faithfulness by Wisdom Hunters)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Identity

There has been something that has continually been nagging at me for at least the past few weeks. In my post, Anxiously Hopeful, continued, I discussed how getting the permanent stimulator is an anxiety-provoking and somewhat scary change. But, I still wasn't satisfied with why I felt so anxious about such a positive change in my life...

Today, it hit me...

When I was in the car accident that started this journey of chronic pain and debilitating migraines, I started out in complete denial that who I was would have to change. I held on so tightly to who I was because I couldn't even face the thought or the possibility that I had been changed by a split moment in time.

It took me almost 2 years to really accept that things had changed... I had changed. The beginning of that revelation was around the time I began this blog (about 3 months ago). So, I had gone from having my identity pretty well understood before the accident to feeling like I didn't know myself at all. I had changed so much with the chronic migraines and everything that I barely recognized myself. I have been able to finally work through some things and start to build a new identity for myself, with the recognition of the limitations that the migraines have placed on me. Which leads me to my latest "ah-ha" moment...

Getting the permanent stimulator will put me back in the place of having an unknown (or at least unclear) identity. I will not be the person I was before the accident because 1) I have changed, and 2) I will still have limitations (the stimulator lowers my pain, but it doesn't completely get rid of it). I will not be the person I have been with the chronic, debilitating migraines because the migraine intensity, frequency, and duration will decrease. So, I won't know my identity, for the me with a stimulator. And, this is scary to me.

So, I started wondering... is the identity issue more an issue for me or for others? And, I think it's some of both. If I don't feel comfortable in who I am (or at least that I know who I am), then it is difficult to interact and communicate who I am to other people. And, others already don't know how to deal with me because they don't know what it's like to live in chronic pain. They don't know what I live with day-in and day-out, so they assume I haven't changed from what they think I've always been (which is already a distorted view of who I am or was).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to remember what's most important is not WHO I am, but WHOSE I am. I am a child of God. The only identity that matters is my identity in Christ. I know this to be true, and yet everything else I have written also seems so real...

Love Beats Hate

While people sometimes use the internet to spread hateful messages about marginalized groups, including people with chronic illnesses, we want to show that love is more powerful than hate. The Love Beats Hate blogging event (November 17, 2010) is an opportunity to share the ways in which you've seen the support of online communities enrich your life or the lives of others.

Personally, I have received an overflowing of care, support, and encouragement from online bloggers. I have only been a member of the blogging community for a few months, but my 'invisible illness' began a couple years ago.

The pain has increasingly worsened, which has consequently increased my feelings of isolation. I have been able to connect with others online in such profound ways because many of us live in chronic pain. Even though we have never (and probably will never) met each other in person... in many ways, we know each other better than some people we do meet in person. It's as though there is an unspoken bond between people that live in chronic pain. It doesn't matter what type of pain it is... just knowing that another person truly understands what it's like to be in pain all the time, knowing that it's not going to ever just 'go away'... it takes the pressure off and allows both people to feel comfortable enough to begin to take the mask off that we're so used to putting on for the world. We can be true to ourselves without trying to pretend... finally! And, it hurts to face the changes, but the blogging community is there for you as you trudge through the roller coaster of emotions and journey from who you once were to who you are becoming.

The online blogging community has allowed me to express myself in ways that I never would have before. I feel heard in a way that I never had before. And, even though I know that my experience is unique, I find comfort in the words of other bloggers who share their words and prayers. So, to all of those bloggers that I've crossed paths with, THANK YOU... you've helped me in unique ways through some difficult parts of this ongoing journey.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Procedure/Surgery Postponed

Apparently my computer was cranky yesterday as well, so this didn't get posted... this was supposed to get posted yesterday afternoon...

The past week or so have been an emotional roller coaster. I was somewhat like this before my trial stimulator implant, so I attribute it to nerves. But, it's been a lot worse this go-round (i.e., leading up to the permanent stimulator implant). I've been on edge, irritable, moody, crying for no reason, etc... It can all pretty much be summed up one word: ANXIETY. But, that all changed in an instant today...

I'm not sure exactly how to express what I'm feeling right now... I'm in shock, angry, frustrated, upset, disappointed, defeated, and worn down. My procedure/surgery to get the permanent stimulator implanted has now been POSTPONED because the insurance company has been dragging its feet in approving the authorization request for the procedure. AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! I just want to scream... and cry...

So, the insurance company is supposed to make a decision about the authorization request this Friday, at which time we'll set up a date/time to have the procedure done... right before Thanksgiving, when my doctor is going to be on vacation for a week... excellent! So, I'm left, once again, with more PAIN, ANXIETY, and WAITING.

I rode down here to Texas yesterday with my in-laws to be here for the procedure and recovery process. Don't get me wrong, I love to visit family. But, if I'm just going to be here waiting for a few weeks, I'd like to be home with my husband and my normal surroundings. What really drives me crazy is that my parents and husband were planning to take off work for this, we had to last-minute cancel my husband's flight down here... and now, all of this is CANCELLED / POSTPONED. I'm used to my migraines changing and affecting MY life (and even, to some extent, my husband's) to where we can't really plan and stuff, but now it's spreading to where it's affecting my other family members' lives?! What the heck?! I HATE THIS!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

FALLing in Love

© 2010 Jamie V.
My husband and I just spent a lovely weekend in northwestern Arkansas to celebrate our first anniversary (a few weeks late).

I LOVE my husband so much! I continue to be amazed by him. It was so great to get away from the normal day-to-day. I feel like I keep falling in love with him, over and over. He's such a blessing in my life.

I also LOVE fall! It's my favorite season. But, I've always lived in Texas/Oklahoma, where the trees just don't change all that much. I can't handle long drives and we can't afford a big vacation right now; so, we just took a short road trip (2 hours one-way, and then mini-trips) to the Ozarks.

I did alright migraine-wise... I did have to take my migraine meds, but we were still able to walk around outside for longer than I have in a long time... Of course, I've been paying for "over-doing it" for the past few days... But, I loved spending time with my sweetheart and being surrounded by nature. I truly enjoyed myself this weekend, and now I'm looking forward to next week's stimulator implant.
© 2010 Jamie V.
© 2010 Jamie V.

© 2010 Jamie V.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reason, Season, Lifetime

My sister said something to me last weekend that got me thinking about the poem, Reason, Season, or Lifetime...

Reason, Season, or Lifetime



People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.


When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.


Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.


LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.


— Unknown

I previously wrote a post entitled, Changed Relationships, where I wrote about how different relationships in my life have changed since my car accident. But, relationships are more complex than reason, season, or lifetime.

Friends that come into our lives for a reason makes sense to me. And, even (at least to some extent) friends that come into our lives for a season makes sense to me. But, somewhere between season and lifetime, I think the line start to blur. I think there are friends that help us through a series of seasons - sometimes consecutive and sometimes scattered over time. ...or, maybe I just have too high of expectations about what friendship is, and what a true lifetime friend looks like. I know it's unreasonable to expect another person to be there for you through every single up and down. But, what do you do when what you believe to be a lifetime friend seems absent or out of reach for some very important / difficult / big events or experiences or even seasons in your life? That I don't know...

Maybe I am not meant to know the answer, though. During those times when I feel so disconnected from my friends and / or loved ones, perhaps the Lord is trying to teach me something... to draw me closer to Him... to teach me to truly rely solely on Him. It is a difficult lesson to learn, and I am still struggling with it.

In the midst of chronic pain and suffering, it is often dark and lonely. If it wasn't for God's light shining - sometimes near and sometimes far away - I would be completely lost and swallowed in the darkness of pain, suffering, depression, anxiety...

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." - Psalm 119:105

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blessed Beyond Measure

I was so excited to find out that the theme for November's Headache and Migraine Disease Blog Carnival is: "What are you thankful for in your life despite living with migraine disease?"

I think we, all too often, get so wrapped up in the day-to-day grind of things, that we forget that we are surrounded by so many wonderful things. And, this does not apply just to people living with migraine disease (or any other illness). It can be very difficult to remember that even with all of life's stresses, there is still so much to be thankful for.

The Lord has blessed me beyond measure. He is the only one that has really seen me in my darkest moments, as well as my brightest moments. His love is completely unconditional, and He surrounds me with reminders that He is and always will be near me.

My husband has been such a huge blessing to me. He has carried me through some rough and scary times, even in the short time that we've been married. He is my best friend, and I feel blessed that God brought him into my life to be my partner.

My family (namely: my parents, siblings, in-laws, and grandparents) has always been a great support system for me. Their love continues to help me through difficult times, even when I live miles and miles away. They love me, no matter what... and that means so much to me.

My friends, who, even when they may not know what to say or do, keep me in their thoughts and prayers. I know that they'll be there for me, and that helps a lot.

I am also thankful for more simple things, such as: a nice home that keeps us warm, a soft bed to lay down in, plenty of food to eat, the beautiful color change of the fall leaves, the crisp fall air, a car that keeps us safe, cell phones/TV/computers that allow for communication (and sometimes distraction), photos and scrapbooking, books, music, movies, and the list could go on forever! It melts my heart to see people being truly engaged with one another - laughing and enjoying the moment, or being patient and helping one another, or even just sitting peacefully together. It's the little things...

I suppose I shouldn't write about what I'm thankful for without including those things about myself that I am thankful for. Truthfully, this one is difficult for me (which is probably why it's coming up last here... trying to put it off or just not include it). But, God has gifted me, and He deserves to to be glorified. I used to know what I was thankful for about myself, but I have changed. I guess I haven't quite thought much about this in a while...

I am thankful that God has given me the gift to touch others through words. I am thankful that He allows me to empathize with others and to walk with them through difficult times. I am thankful that He has provided me the patience, courage, and strength to continue on and trust in Him - even if I still have trouble with this and stumble, He is there to encourage me to get back up and take that next step. I am thankful that I have not given up on myself or on God.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." - Psalm 28:7

© 2010 Jamie Valendy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Anxiously Hopeful, continued

My neurologist told me last week that he was out of ideas, at least as far as medicinal abortive treatment / therapy for my migraines. I felt / knew that he was running out of ideas; but when I heard the words come out of his mouth, my heart sank. I was so glad that I had had a positive experience with the trial neurostimulator the previous week...

In 2 weeks from today, I will (hopefully) be on the road to recovery... and a very different life. I am getting my neurostimulator permanently implanted in 2 weeks, and it's a bit scary. This post is a follow-up to my previous post, Anxiously Hopeful. So, let me try to work this out...

First of all, I am so unbelievably ready to be rid of this unbearable pain that I cannot even express it! I hate feeling like a useless lump on a log so much of the time. I hate feeling like a burden to those around me. I hate that I cause my loved ones to worry so much. I hate feeling so out of control of my life and of my own mind, body, and emotions. I hate the pain!

But, I have spent the last 2 years trying my hardest to come to terms with this change in myself and my life. I have changed how my life is structured. Jeremy and I have built a life together around me having this debilitating illness. Is all the redefining, restructuring, etc... for naught?

I know how incredibly ridiculous this must sound! The neurostimulator will give me at least some of my life back - I will be able to function at a higher capacity and live my life as a more active participant. I am sooo grateful for the opportunity to get this neurostimulator... this chance for a life!

I am just trying to wrap my mind around all of this. What might my new life might look like? What will I do with the freedom and opportunities that having the neurostimulator will provide me? I don't have any idea where God is calling me to serve or what He is calling me to do. I don't know how I am to use this season of suffering (which I know is not yet over) to glorify him. I just don't know...

I have learned so much through all of this, and I know that the journey is long from over... and that there are many journeys to come. But, I think it's always a bit scary when what is or has become our normal changes.


Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.