When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Most people have some familiarity with migraines as well as the standard symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sounds, and/or odors.
What you may not know is that a migraine is much more than a bad headache and often involves some fairly bizarre neurological symptoms before, during, after, or even occurring entirely apart from the actual onset of pain.
Just for kicks, let’s explore one of them – and how it helped deflate my ego:
In my personal experience, aphasia is a fairly good humbler of pride. As a child, I was frequently told I was smart and by the time I was an adolescent I began to believe it. I particularly liked to think my knowledge base was somewhat broader than it actually was, and because I was also insecure, was threatened when others knew more than me.
In my young adulthood, I also held a fair amount of intellectual smugness, somewhat oddly wedded to a crippling fear that I was not so very bright after all. Often, the resulting product was an arrogantly offensive attitude and included many distinctly unintelligent actions.
When aphasia strikes, however, it is rather difficult to feel oneself to be intellectually superior.
The first (and most extreme) instance of aphasia in my life happened very memorably when my children were very small. I cannot remember whether it was before my episode with meningitis or afterward, but I can very clearly recall the humiliation I felt.
I was hosting a play date for my littles and was talking with some other moms. Suddenly, I realized that the sounds coming from my face bore no resemblance whatsoever to the clear and coherent words I had composed in my mind. In despair, I remember trying to correct my speech only to have more garbled gibberish erupt from my now-red countenance before I finally hit upon the brilliant idea of shutting up.
It took a few heartbeats of silence before the other moms closed their mouths and looked away, probably wondering if I were drunk. It was the longest play date of my life.
I never spoke of this incident until I saw reporter, Serene Branson’s very public episode with aphasia and recognized the look in her eyes. However, it wasn’t until I read an article written to dispel rumors that she’d had a stroke that I learned the term “aphasia” and that it was linked to migraines.
Although my aphasia is rarely that severe (and from the look in the reporter’s eyes, I highly suspect panic set in, making things worse for her at that moment just as they did in my living room years before), it can still be embarrassing to speak in slurred speech, mix up words, or lose them altogether.
It’s also decidedly difficult to feel pompous when you have just asked your daughter to pass the couch at the dinner table. Not to mention those dignity-deflating moments when the name of a relative or close friend fails to roll off the tongue during an introduction…
But of course, my younger self desperately needed humbling, and I daresay I still do. Certainly, aphasia is only one of many tools my Father has used in taking me down a notch or two.
And while discipline is not always pleasant to the erroneous child, there are some delightful byproducts. While I may temporarily lose my ability to speak intelligibly, I have gained the ability to laugh at myself. Because if I am honest, plenty of my random word-swaps or numb-tongue exhibitions are more than mildly entertaining!
No longer do I feel the sting of humiliation when my words become tangled or fail to be in any recognizable tongue. Now, each instance of aphasia (and of the milder sort, there are many) serves as a reminder to keep my pride in check… and also to watch my words.
Have you had any embarrassing migraine moments you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below. I’ll be unplugging for a few days, but I’ll respond as soon as I get back!!