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.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Heavy Baggage

I've always loved reading and learning. That hasn't changed. But, the time has come to unpack and face the heavy baggage of that love. Let me explain...

I have boxes upon boxes filled with books, binders, and notepads. They no longer seem to have a place in my life. Yet, I struggle immensely with even the thought of getting rid of them... as if, by doing so, it would somehow negate the knowledge and lessons I acquired through them.

One of the professors at my Alma Mater, University of Dallas (UD), said that the purpose of the school's intense Core Curriculum is to learn from many of the great thinkers, and then to formulate our own worldview. The UD website states that:
The Core is an opportunity to inquire into the fundamental aspects of being and our relationship with God, nature and our fellow human beings. The Core curriculum embodies the University of Dallas’ dedication to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue as the proper and primary ends of education.
I feel like I've learned from every book, article, and class I've encountered. I may not have enjoyed or taken something from each one to add to my worldview, but each one taught me something. And, in that, it's difficult to dispose of them.

There's an added piece of the puzzle, though.

I envisioned a life where I would be a professor. I would conduct research, write papers and books, and teach students. I would be referring back to these books, and possibly to some of my notes (if only just to see how my perspective might have shifted over time). They would serve an important role in my life.

But, since my car accident (7 years ago!), a lot has changed. Many of these books have remained in boxes that entire time, while others have only been moved from boxes to bookshelves and back to boxes.

For the time that they were on the bookshelves, I would sometimes feel like they were a visual (and painful) reminder of how much in my life had changed. I haven't been able to read and write like prior to the accident. I felt like I had lost the ability to be a scholar, and that broke my heart.

I was cleaning one of our bedrooms yesterday... the one with half of the closet full of those many boxes of books, binders, and notepads. I felt my heart start to pound quickly in my chest, but I didn't have a panic attack. I'm taking that as a sign that it's time to try to deal with the boxes and the related emotions that will surface.

I'm not sure how to best face all of this, but I think it's time. I'm not going to just dump everything out. I'm going to go through the boxes (when hubby is here to help me safely move them from their resting place): carefully considering what to keep and what not to, thanking each of them for their service and place in my life, and then either donate, sell, or recycle.

I know that this is going to take some time, but it's time.

Monday, June 29, 2015

30 Things About My Life With Migraine

Kerrie Smyres started a "30 Things About Your Life With Migraine" meme to encourage others to share their experience with migraine. Migraine and Headache Awareness month is a great time to share, so here we go.
  1. My diagnosis is: chronic migraine with and without aura.
  2. My migraine attack frequency is: I have some level of head pain daily. 
  3. I was diagnosed in: 2002 with migraine, becoming chronic in 2008.
  4. My comorbid conditions include: depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia.
  5. I take one medications/supplements each day for prevention and four medications/supplements to treat an acute attack.
  6. My first migraine attack was: I'm not sure. The more I learn about migraines, the more I believe that I've dealt with them since childhood.
  7. My most disabling migraine symptoms are: pain, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, aphasia, sensory sensitivities (to light, sound, smell, taste, touch).
  8. My strangest migraine symptoms are: olfactory hallucinations.
  9. My biggest migraine triggers are: weather changes, lights (especially bright and/or flashing), odors / fragrance / smoke, foods / food additives (bananas, artificial sweeteners, nitrates / nitrites, MSG).
  10. I know a migraine attack is coming on when: I have difficulty controlling body temperature and moods, my ears feel hot and achy, increasing visual disturbance, certain cravings, aphasia, inability to focus.
  11. The most frustrating part about having a migraine attack is: being suddenly unable to function well, and not knowing when one will hit or how long it will last.
  12. During a migraine attack, I worry most about: how well my migraine treatment will work, and how long I'm going to be out of commission.
  13. When I think about migraine between attacks, I think: please don't worsen today.
  14. When I tell someone I have migraine, the response is usually: kind, but often indicative of the lack of public awareness of what migraine truly is.
  15. When someone tells me they have migraine, I think: that migraine is so much more common than most people think. I also think about how I might be able to help them cope with migraine.
  16. When I see commercials about migraine treatments, I think: how far we have to go (and how important it really is that we do so, every chance we get) to inform and raise awareness of migraine and the potentially debilitating affects this disease. 
  17. My best coping tools are: my faith, distraction (often involving Netflix).
  18. I find comfort in: my husband, my dog, my house, my support system (family and friends, both in person and online).
  19. I get angry when people say: "It's just a headache," which is sometimes followed by,"Just take a pill and keep going / move on" and/or "It can't be that bad."
  20. I like it when people say: a sincere, "You're in my thoughts and prayers."
  21. Something kind someone can do for me during a migraine attack is: allow me to escape to a dark, quiet place. Ask if I need anything (water, food, blanket, pillow, to be alone, etc) to help make me more comfortable. Be patient with me, as it can be difficult for me to think, speak, and move.
  22. The best thing(s) a doctor has ever said to me about migraine is: "I won't give up on you."
  23. The hardest thing to accept about having migraine is: that it is unpredictable.
  24. Migraine has taught me: to recognize the strength that I DO have. It is teaching me to have more patience, and to trust God more.
  25. The quotation, motto, mantra, or scripture that gets me through an attack is: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
  26. If I could go back to the early days of my diagnosis, I would tell myself: to prepare for things to be beyond difficult, but to never give up hope.
  27. The people who support me most are: my husband, my support system (family and friends, both in person and online).
  28. The thing I most wish people understood about migraine is: it's a genetic neurological disease for which, there is currently NO cure.
  29. Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is important to me because: I feel that we need to speak up/out to raise awareness, increase research, and help correct misinformation.
  30. One more thing I’d like to say about life with migraine is: that it's hard, but find yourself a support system and be your own best advocate to getting the care and treatment you need to live the best life possible.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)

"You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" Watch the Josh Groban video below and listen to the lyrics. How does it make you feel? Which lyrics do you find especially inspiring?

What a beautiful song. Such powerful words. 

This song immediately brought to mind my relationship with God. He is always there. He is my strength, my comfort, my guiding light.

As I listened further, I thought of relationships I've grown over the years. I'm blessed to have people in my life that will help me:
when my load feels too heavy,
when I feel unheard or misunderstood,
when I get lost in the pain,
when I feel the light in me has been blown out. 
They are there to help lift me back up... to help me find hope. They remind me to look to my faith for grace, mercy, and hope. And, they hold onto hope, when I struggle to hold on myself. Their love, patience, and grace is beautiful and amazing.

I strive to be that kind of person, as well. 

When you feel invisible, unheard, misunderstood... you are not alone. Reach out. You are loved!

You Are Loved (Don't Give Up) by Josh Groban

Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
When your heart's heavy
I...I will lift it for you

Don't give up
Because you want to be heard
If silence keeps you
I...I will break it for you

[Chorus]
Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved


Don't give up
It's just the hurt that you hide
When you're lost inside
I...I will be there to find you

Don't give up
Because you want to burn bright
If darkness blinds you
I...I will shine to guide you

[Chorus]

You are loved
Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
Don't give up
Every one needs to be heard
You are loved

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Hope

"YOUR Hope," What do you hope for most in your journey with Headaches or Migraines? Please share with us about what you hope for and why.

What I hope for most in my journey with Migraines is my life hope / goal: 
To faithfully follow God, allowing Him to work in and through me wherever I am and however He desires.

My life doesn't look the way I ever imagined. Chronic pain, especially chronic disabling pain, wasn't part of my life plan. But, life continues on, and I choose to participate in whatever capacity I'm able.

Regarding Migraine, I hope to improve my quality of life by continuing to learn, cope, share, grow. I want to make a difference... 
To help advocate for myself and others.
To help others know that they're not alone.
To help disseminate information about Migraine and other headache disorders.
To help raise awareness, educate others, reduce stigma, and increase funding for research. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hope Lies in Dreams

"Hope lies in dreams," Interpret the Quote: Tell us what the quote on the image below means to you.

"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality." (Jonas Salk)

So, this quote immediately brings another quote to mind: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" (Eleanor Roosevelt).

I believe that allowing ourselves to dream and have hope for the future is important. Having lived with a disability now for over 6 years, I've come to find that my hopes and dreams for the future have changed... but, it's okay to change them!

I can envision a world in which Migraine has a cure. I know that it will take a lot of imagination and courage to reach a point of better understanding of the disease, and then to develop a cure. And, I will do my part in helping to realize that dream. I will continue to help educate myself and others about Migraine. I will continue to share my experiences with living / coping with Migraine. I will continue to contribute monetarily to Migraine research. I will pray for the Migraine community, as well as for the Migraine doctors and researchers out there. I will not give up on hope of a better future for Migraineurs.

What in Nature Brings You Hope?

What in Nature Brings You Hope? Tell us what things in nature bring you hope and why.

This ties into one of my recent blog posts, Birds of Hope. As I shared in that post, "Everything in nature is a beautiful echo and reminder of the greatness of our Father."

There's something so wonderful about nature. There's something mesmerizing about the simplicity, complexity, and interconnectedness of everything.

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the chaos of life. But, nature provides relief from the chaos. A place to slow down. You can enjoy the present moment, reminisce about the past, dream about the future... anything is possible because nature surrounds you with infinite possibility.

It's difficult to narrow down what in nature brings me hope, as so many do. What first comes to mind, though, is the starry night sky. There is nothing that can take me out of myself better than just looking up into the night sky. My mind is overwhelmed by the infinite power of our Creator; while simultaneously, my heart is overcome with the truth that our Lord, the Maker of the universe, loves and cherishes me. What an awesome God!

"For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
- Vincent van Gogh

The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM) Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.

Hope Lets Us Win

Hope Lets Us Win: Watch and listen to the video below of Brian McKnight's song "Win," and share with us which of the lyrics you believe.


I just listened to this song for the first time, and the chorus has some words that stick out to me:
"I'll never give up, never give in / Never let a ray of doubt slip in / And if I fall, I'll never fail / I'll just get up and try again / Never lose hope, never lose faith / There's much too much at stake."
While I'd like to say that they're entirely true, I can't. Doubt slips in. I struggle with losing hope and faith. But, it's okay, as long as I don't stay in that place... as long as I continue to get up and try again.

Win by Brian McKnight

Dark is the night
I can weather the storm
Never say die
I've been down this road before

I'll never quit
I'll never lay down
See, I've promised myself
That I'd never let me down, so

[Chorus]
I'll never give up, never give in
Never let a ray of doubt slip in
And if I fall, I'll never fail
I'll just get up and try again

Never lose hope, never lose faith
There's much too much at stake

Upon myself I must depend
I'm not looking for place to show, I'm gonna win

No stopping now
There's still a way to go
Ohh, someway, somehow
Whatever it takes I know

I'll never quit, no, no
I'll never go down
I'll make sure they remember my name
A hundred years from now

[Chorus]

When it's all said and done
My once in a lifetime, will be back again
Now is the time, to take a stand
Here is my chance, that's why I'll

[Chorus]

Mmm, I'm gonna win

When You Believe

"When You Believe:" Watch and listen to the video of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston performing "When You Believe," then tell us how it can inspire hope.

During difficult times, it can feel like our prayers fall on deaf ears. We may feel alone or abandoned. We may even question our faith. We may feel like hope is gone.

But, as this song beautifully shares: "when you're blinded by your pain / Can't see the way, get through the rain / A small but still, resilient voice / Says hope is very near"... "though hope is frail, it's hard to kill." 

The Bible reminds us that: "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

In the same way that "faith as small as a mustard seed" can move mountains, I believe that even the smallest bit of hope can help light our darkest days. 

Keep praying. Keep the faith. Keep hoping. Keep believing and trusting in God... miracles can happen. 

When You Believe by Whitney Houston

Many nights we've prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts, a hopeful song
We barely understood

Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we knew we could, oh yes

[Chorus]
There can be miracles when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill

Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

Oh yeah, in this time of fear
When prayer so often proves in vain
Hope seems like the summer birds
Too swiftly flown away
Yet now I'm standing here
My heart so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I'll say

[Chorus]

They don't always happen when you ask
And it's easy to give in to your fears
But when you're blinded by your pain
Can't see the way, get through the rain
A small but still, resilient voice
Says hope is very near, oh


[Chorus]

You will when you
You will when you believe
Just believe
I believe, I believe
Just believe
You will when you believe

Friday, June 12, 2015

Birds of Hope

"Birds of Hope," Interpret the Quote: Tell us what the quote on the image below means to you.
You're welcome to use the image in your post as long as you don't make any changes to it.

This quote and image immediately brings a beautiful passage of scripture to mind:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Everything in nature is a beautiful echo and reminder of the greatness of our Father. God will provide even our most basic needs because we are His beloved children, made in His image.

What hope we have, when we trust and know that God will provide for our needs!

This doesn't mean, though, that we can just be passive. Plan ahead, work hard, pray fervently... You can have concern (doing what you can to help a situation) without worry (after doing what you can to help a situation, you refuse to leave the rest up to God).

Jesus doesn't want us to worry ("do not worry" appears three times in this passage); He wants us to be hopeful. Trust in God's faithfulness to sustain you, just as He has in the past. And, don't let the challenges of tomorrow weigh you down today - "worrying doesn’t rob tomorrow of its sorrow, it robs today of its strength." Don't worry, be hopeful.

If you'd like to read (there's also an option to listen, instead) more about Matthew 6:25-34: Lifestyles of the Content and Worry-Free.

The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM) Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pets for Comfort & Hope

Pets for Comfort and Hope: If you have pets that help you keep hoping, tell us about them. If not, tell us about something else that helps you keep hoping.

Ah, pets! I've written about how pets have helped me cope with Migraine: My Shadow & My Honey Bee. Pets give you someone to take care of, while simultaneously helping take care of you. They're there during the ups and downs. They're a great source of love, comfort, hope, and joy.

We've now had Honey Bee for almost 3 years. She's been even more of a blessing than I ever could've imagined. She continues to grow more confident in herself and us, and it's great to see her personality blossom and shine.

Honey is home with me every day. Even if we're not actively interacting with each other, we know that the other is there. It's so comforting. We both value our own space, but also enjoy snuggle time together. She can be such a peaceful and calming presence.

Honey has had a difficult past. But, she reminds me that great things can come from difficult times. She has overcome obstacles, and she inspires me to keep going.
© 2015 Jamie V.

I love seeing Honey happy. Making sure she is taken care of and has what she needs is a top priority for me. We have a doggie door, which allows her to have more independence because she can go outside anytime it's open. She seems much happier to be able to come in and out, as she desires... rather than only when Mom feels up to getting her outside.

She has such a loving and silly personality. She loves snuggling with pillows, playing with toys, eating tasty treats, and just hanging out with us.

Pets have such power to change our moods, help keep life in perspective, and feel unconditionally loved. When I see Honey so excited over something little, it makes me smile. Her kisses are healing. And, I know that I can face the hardships in my life and come out on top.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Activities That Build Hope

Activities / Hobbies That Build Hope: What activities or hobbies do you participate in that help build hope for you?

I don't have very many hobbies anymore. It's difficult enough to deal with daily life and things that need to be done to maintain even the basic necessities. However, I do think that meaningful activities and hobbies are very important for everyone to have and cultivate. Such activities can provide distraction from pain, a sense of meaning and accomplishment, and self-discovery.

There are definitely times that I go too long without participating in activities and hobbies that I enjoy. This can be due to many reasons, including: physical limitations or inability, and lack of interest. But, I'm trying to get back into doing things that are enjoyable because it helps to create a more balanced life.


I find that the mere act of taking part in an activity or hobby gives me hope. Just a few of the activities / hobbies I enjoy are: cooking with (and, when I'm able, for) my husband, going on walks with my husband, reading, writing, traveling, scrapbooking.

Cooking allows me to escape the stress and pressure of other things going on. I can just focus on the task at hand. It's a way for us to make healthy options, create something good, try new things, and perhaps allows me to feel like I have some level of control over something.

Walking allows me to be in the moment and enjoy time with my husband and our dog. I often can't go on long walks, but even a walk around the block is enjoyable with those two.

Reading allows me to temporarily escape the reality of pain and to learn / expand my knowledge. I have difficulty reading much with my migraines. When I'm able to read even short things, though, it gives me hope that I'll be able to read (or adapt and listen) more in the future.

Writing allows me to express myself. I'm able to share my own experiences, and hopefully help others know that they're not alone. Being able to write gives me hope that I can make a difference in this world.

Traveling allows me to experience new places, people, things. My long-standing wanderlust has been fueled by a semester abroad. I just love to travel... and  then scrapbook the many, many photos I take (I suppose I should add photography as one of my enjoyable activities / hobbies).

Scrapbooking allows me to express myself creatively and cherish some of the moments I've lived. Re-living memories, as I'm scrapbooking, is so great to me. It reminds me that even though I struggle so much with migraines, I'm still living life, enjoying moments, and making memories.

The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM) Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Song of Hope

Song of Hope: What song gives you hope to hold, despite your Migraines or Headaches and how?

I love music. It can express things that it's otherwise difficult to express.

I've posted a lot about different songs that provide me comfort, inspiration, hope, etc. If you'd like to take a look and hear more, I actually have a blog post specifically for songs of hope: My Playlist: Songs of Hope.

One of the songs on that playlist is the one that I feel most compelled to share today: Stronger by Mandisa.

This song is such a strong reminder that God loves me unconditionally and will never forsake me. He knows the hurt I feel, and He will help me through even the most difficult of times.
'Cause if He started this work in your life / He will be faithful to complete it / If only you believe it / He knows how much it hurts / And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Symbol of Hope

Symbol of Hope: What symbol helps give you hope for living with Migraine and Headaches?

There are multiple symbols that help give me hope for living with Migraine and Headaches. But, there is one that stands far beyond all the others.

The cross.

The cross means and reminds me of so many things, including: that I am a cherished child of God, that God loves me so much that He sacrificed His only son (who was raised on the third day), that I have purpose in this life,  that I am never alone, that I have the God of angel armies fighting for me.

The cross points me back to God. My faith in Him is where I find strength, hope, gratitude, and peace.
"I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13)

Large Migraine Hopes

Large Migraine and Headache Hopes: What large thing gives you hope for living with Headaches and Migraines?

One of the large things that gives me hope for living with Migraine and Headache is advocacy. I get a surge of hope rush through me, as I see and read so many people's stories and advocacy efforts online.

It also gives me hope to be able to be one of the voices out there. This blog is a place that I can share my experience, advocate for myself and the Migraine community, and let others know that they're not alone. Even though there are times that I struggle to write, I try to share / spread hope in other ways. Being able to contribute, in even the smallest way, is huge to me.

The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM) Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.

Small Migraine Hopes

I've fallen a few days behind in the blog challenge, so hang on tight as I quickly get caught up.

Small Headache and Migraine Hopes: What small thing gives you hope for living with Headaches and Migraines?

I've been much more aware of the "little things" in life. Perhaps this is one of the "side effects" of life slowing down. Life is made up of little moments, and I now find that even the most mundane things have taken on different meaning.

It is in the simple, everyday things that I find hope. For example, I find hope in being able to help out around the house, in whatever capacity I'm able. Each day, I do at least one thing, no matter how big or small. 

My husband really helps me with this. He cheers me on, even when I don't feel I've contributed to the day in any way. Even when all I can do is get out of bed in the morning and barely hang on throughout the day, he is there to help me and he tells / reminds me that my worth is not based on what I can or cannot do.

It gives me hope, when I'm able to attend and participate in things outside the home: going for a walk with my husband (and our dog), going to the grocery store with my husband (rarely, alone), spending time with loved ones. When I'm able to manage the pain with coping skills and/or meds, and still be able to participate in life, it gives me hope.

I also believe that gratitude and hope are intertwined. The more grateful I am, the more hope I feel for the future. There's power in noticing and being grateful for even the smallest of things in life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Who Helps You Hope?

Who Helps You Hope?: Which person in your life has helped you most to hold on to hope, despite your Migraines or Headaches and how?

There are several people that immediately come to mind... most notably, my husband. He's with me, day in and day out. He reminds me to be gentle with myself, when I'm unable to do things. He helps me find humor and joy in even the smallest, most mundane of things. He is my greatest blessing. 

I've previously written about some of the ways that people have helped me hold on to hope:
I'm so grateful to have people in my life that truly love me. They know how important my faith is. There is always someone (or several) that help point me back to the Lord (my source of eternal hope), when I'm struggling. So, to everyone that has helped me hold on to hope, especially when I struggled to hold onto it myself... THANK YOU!!!

Favorite Hope Quote

I know that I have been absent from the blogging world for quite some time, but I'm still here. In the spirit of awareness, I'm going to be participating in the MHAM Blogging Challenge.

Favorite Hope Quote: What's your favorite quote about hope, and how does it apply to your Headaches or Migraines?

I LOVE quotes! Whether by a well-known author or someone I have a passing conversation with, I find words that resonate with my soul to be a huge blessing.

As I read the prompt, I immediately thought of a poem I've loved for as
long as I can remember: "Hope" is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson.
"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all - 
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm - 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
I think this poem beautifully depicts the hope that is ever-present in the heart. And, it is this ever-present hope that defeats despair, despite overwhelming circumstances.

Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

Yesterday was the first day of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM).

The theme for 2015 is INSPIRING HOPE.

love the theme for this year. I'm looking forward to both reading and writing about how hope plays a role in each of our lives.