Wasting Away

On my birthday this year, my optometrist let me know that it was time to transition to bifocals.

Of course, this was not news to me considering I have spent the better part of the last few months trying to read grocery labels at arm’s length – and in the middle of the aisle for the best light. But of course, even a cursory glance in the mirror tells me the same tale: I am not young anymore.

How do I feel about this? To be honest, I don’t really know. While I do not mind the grays that are appearing here and there in my hair, I must say I am not a big fan of the loss of elasticity in my skin.

Yet in a candid moment, I might tell you that dealing with chronic pain and the associated fatigue has made me feel old before my time, so in some ways it merely seems that the clock is catching up.

In fact, I might even venture to say that the years spent fighting through the migraine fog and feeling so tired that I can actually fall asleep on a staircase have left me rather well prepared for the reality of aging.

Perhaps even because of these things, I do not mind getting old so much as I thought I might. I admit that I do sometimes skip looking in the mirror nowadays, but really there is something freeing in the realization that no matter what makeup tips or clothing tricks I might learn, I still will not look like the 25-year-old me.

What I do know is that, no matter what is going on on the outside, the changes that are happening within are much more desirable. Emotionally, I was pretty tumultuous as a young woman and most of my young adulthood was marked by either darkness or by an attempt to run from it.

I cannot claim to have it all figured out now, but by the grace of God, my mental state is largely better. There are bumps in the road and I do stray into the deep, dark valleys from time to time, but I have something now that I did not have as the 25-year-old me: Hope.

Today, my hope is not in youth or even in feeling good but in Christ alone. Anymore, I put little faith in my body and mind, knowing how both have betrayed me in the past, but I can put every ounce of my tiny faith in God, knowing that He will take my little and make much of it.

No longer do I trust in what I can or cannot do but rather in what He has already done on my behalf. For between migraine issues and age, my flesh and heart can and do fail me, but my God is my strength and what’s more, He is my portion. Forever.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
(2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

 

Migraine

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — Dread Pirate Roberts aka Westly;  The Princess Bride

For some people, this is not just a clever line from a movie; it is quite literally true.

There are many “invisible” illnesses (ie- Lyme disease, MS, lupus, et al), and while I’ve known several people who struggle with them, there is one that I am very – one might say intimately – familiar with: Chronic migraine.

For the last 12 years, I have been dealing with a poorly-understood headache condition that is most commonly diagnosed as chronic migraine, although I have also received diagnoses of cluster headaches and occipital neuralgia (which really just means pain at the base of the skull and is more a description than a diagnosis) and even trigeminal neuralgia (which, again, just means pain in areas supplied by the trigemnial nerve).

But the one diagnosis that has dogged me persistently is chronic migraine, meaning 15 or more headache days per month. I cannot describe it better than the headache specialists at Johns Hopkins already have, so I will quote from their website:

Most migraines typically last a few hours to a couple of days and respond well to specific treatments. However, in some patients, The migraine is particularly severe and long-lasting—and may even become chronic, occurring continuously for weeks, months, or even years on end. If improperly managed or left untreated, intermittent migraines may essentially transform into a chronic daily headache, with continuous and smoldering symptoms that periodically erupt into a “full-blown” migraine.

That’s pretty much my life in a nutshell. And I have learned to cope.

Although I have mentioned migraine in the past (here and here and here for those who are interested), it has been rare for me to dedicate an entire post to nothing more than migraine (except, perhaps, for a serial post about being thankful for the lessons of migraine beginning here although I didn’t re-read the entire thing because, well… I’m currently fighting a migraine).

In the main, I’ve avoided it because I do not want to fall into the habit of complaining. Recently, however, I’ve found that discussion of the problem with others who suffer or who care for a migraine sufferer can be useful, even helpful, so long as I am careful not to merely moan and groan but point to tips and tricks I’ve learned or how God has used an unpleasant circumstance for His good and glory (which He has many times).

So after a couple of suggestions from friends new and old, I think I’m going to try something new on here. On the off chance it gives hope to one person or makes a single soul feel less alone, I am going to dedicate Mondays on this blog to a discussion on migraine. May the Lord set a guard over my… ah, over my fingers, I suppose… and use this space and discussion for His purposes and glory, and may I resist any temptation to whine!

As always, I welcome any comments, feedback, sharing of your own migraine stories, or whatever else you may wish to say so long as foul language, insults or derision aimed at anyone else, and so forth are avoided.

So starting Monday, look for a post about what migraine is… and what it is not. Perhaps, even, we can pray for one another that God may be glorified either because of or despite migraine. Certainly, we can pray that God may bring comfort to those who suffer without His peace.

Blessings to you!

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2)

**Update July 2017: Although I had fully intended to write about my migraine journey and the spiritual lessons therein each Monday, in my real life of teenagers, work, church, and everything else, it is not happening.

It would seem that actually coping with migraines and the associated fatigue, brain fog , etc., etc. does not necessarily lend itself to such ambitious aims. So instead of every single Monday, I will just put every migraine-related post in a category (cleverly called “migraine”) where interested parties can find these posts and read them at their leisure… 

Thanks!