Monday, June 11, 2012

Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge #11: Say What?! (Ellen)

Ellen, at Migraine Interrupted, shares something that was said to her by a breast cancer survivor that I think is very, very powerful (and definitely worth the read). Here is her post - Migraine Awareness Month #11: "Say What?" Here's a sneak peak of her article / post:
"Cancer was a breeze compared to living with Migraine." 
Here's what her explanation was...
Everybody understands cancer. There are tests for it. You can see it on an x-ray. Diagnosis is fairly straightforward as is its treatment. There are commercials for it, free testing for it, and support groups for it. 
Because everyone talks about cancer, everyone understands what your body goes through during cancer treatment. They support you. They rally around you. They bring you casseroles to eat for dinner, clean your house, run errands for you, drive you to church and doctor appointments. They help you fight.
When you have cancer, everyone rallies around your family. They are supportive asking what they can do to help, and offering shoulders of understanding for tears when they are overflowing. 
Medications are constantly being sought for cancer. Research is ongoing and enthusiastically paid for by the public and by society.
Once you say the words "I have cancer" nobody doubts you or your experience. The only stigma re: cancer is when patients don't appreciate the pity party others often want to throw them.
Cancer has an end. When this cancer patient went through treatment, she knew about how long it was going to take. She had a light at the end of the tunnel and something to look forward to and strive for.
There was an end. There are *cures*.
Migraine is not like that. (Migraine Awareness Month #11: "Say What?")
This post was written as part of the Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge (MAMBC), which is initiated by and the National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation (NHF).

Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge #11: Say What?!

It's difficult to choose the most ridiculous thing that someone's ever said to me about Migraines.

I know that the way I respond to the question, "How are you?" isn't the socially acceptable "fine," "good / great," or "okay." For a long time, I did respond this way... but, I reached the point where I just couldn't do it anymore. I still don't just spill everything about how badly I've been doing, but I felt like I wasn't being true to myself by saying that things were all good. So, I may get blank stares, since my comments are outside the social norm.

My interactions with people vary from short conversations with new people to longer conversations with people I've known for years. Regardless of the communication between us (sometimes it's just a short statement) about the fact that I've been dealing with chronic Migraines for several years, people still feel that it's appropriate to ask:

  • "Have you tried Excedrin Migraine?" - Okay, really?! Yes, I've tried this over-the-counter medicine... along with many, many other medications over the years.
  • "They still don't know what's causing these chronic Migraines?" - I don't really understand why this question keeps coming up. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease. The chronic, debilitating nature of my Migraines was triggered by an auto accident in 2008. Other than that, I don't know what kind of answer people are looking for here.
  • "But, you look so good..." - Well, that's because Migraine is an invisible illness. I "look so good" because I try very hard to appear normal and enjoy the time that I do spend out with others (no matter how rarely that may be). What you see is a mask. It may not be on very well, at least not to those that truly know me well; but it's a coping mechanism that I use. If I looked as bad as I feel, I'd be a monster, scaring everyone in my path.
  • "Do you really have a headache every day?" - Yes, I really have a headache every day. Even if I tell you that I've been doing alright, that doesn't mean that I've been pain-free. My "normal" is very different than before the accident, and very different than other people's (many cannot even begin to understand). My pain ranges from moderate to excruciating.
I know people mean well, but their comments can often be hurtful and/or belittling. It's hard to remember that we're all human, and we can't blame each other for acting as such. So, I do my best to deal with it in a respectful manner and move past it.

This post was written as part of the Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge (MAMBC), which is initiated by and the National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation (NHF).
Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

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