Giving Thanks Where I Can

Last week was Thanksgiving. I was fortunate enough not only to be home for the week, but to spend a weekend in Dallas, Texas with some friends. It was a blessed week full of friends and love. Exactly what I needed, right? Wrong. Although My week spent with friends and family was fantastic, I had a cloud of stress and pain lingering over me the whole time. Over the past week or so, hip, back, and leg flare-ups associated with my chronic pain syndrome returned. These are tolerable. I can just put a heat pad on them and take and ibuprofen and they’ll go away within an hour or so. In addition to the pain flare-ups, though, more headaches came and stayed and stayed and stayed AND the stomach aches continued to occur in the hours of the night.

Sunday afternoon when I was getting ready to come back up to Fort Collins, the biggest headache of the week hit me. I was dizzy and nauseous and I had a booming sensation in my head. I realized that I hadn’t eaten or hardly drank any water that day because I was so caught up with the stresses of heading back to school for finals week and for only three weeks. At this point, I realized I had brought this pain on myself by not taking care of my body.

I do this a lot and I don’t even notice it. I have this pain that occurs all over my body and I pity myself sometimes wishing it would just go away, wondering “why me?” Of course, this hasn’t gotten me very far.

After possibly one of the most severe headaches I have ever had, I decided I was going to take matters into my own hands. I got to researching and found a few self-remedies that I had heard of before, but not ever actually considered. I intend on buying “Heal Your Headache” by Dr. David Bucholz, M.D. at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. I haven’t seen one negative review and it’s not like it can hurt to read a book by an acclaimed headache specialist from one of the top medical programs in the country.

I’ve read a bit on what Dr. Bucholz writes about and he includes a very strict diet that avoids….all the foods I enjoy. For example, I like to call myself a cheese enthusiast and my mom and I used to go to the grocery store on Sunday mornings and choose the strangest cheeses we could find and eat them with fruit for breakfast. I can’t eat any cheeses except American, cream, and cottage cheeses. I can’t eat chocolate, either. Also, it just so happens that Chinese food is my absolute favorite kind of food ever (other than exotic cheeses, of course) and I am aware that they can make Chinese food with no MSG, but the nasty MSG is what makes the Chinese food so yummy.

This diet thing is going to be really tough for me, but when it comes down to it, being headache free and healthy is more important than enjoying a crunch bar (my favorite). Of course, I can have cheat meals or days…but for the first month, I have to be 100% strict about this diet.

In addition to the diet, I am going to start taking riboflavin, feverfew, and magnesium, which are all conveniently in one vitamin called MigreLief. I also need to take a calcium pill and an iron pill because I can’t have a lot of dairy or  any red meat that has nitrates/nitrites, is tenderized, or is marinated. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to find meat that fits that criteria.

I also need to start working out lightly three times a week. I’m thinking I’ll do a light swim workout and take yoga classes.

I’m going to revisit eastern medicine, like acupuncture and cupping since I was too chicken to try it a year ago. I’m definitely going to see about massage therapy and meditation.

I am by myself in this and I’m trying to figure out how to make such a lifestyle change on my own. I have no idea where to really start and I’m going to need help and support, but the important part is that I know I need to take things into my own hands and change my life. I need to take control of my chronic pain disorder instead of it taking control of me for the rest of my life.

I am so motivated and I have this plan. The plan is jumbles, though. I have all these things I know I need to do, but they’re just disorganized ideas in my head. I need help to organize this so I can implement it and begin changing my life.

I’m so thankful for what I have and I am even more thankful for my disorder. My chronic pain has made me who I am. It has made me a more compassionate person who can easily empathize with others in many areas of life. I wouldn’t be who or where I am without chronic migraine, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay. There is a silver lining, but if I can get rid of this force that interferes with almost every aspect of my life, I am going to do everything in my power to make that happen.

Thank you to my friends and family for the love, prayers, and support through these years. I am so excited to show you all what a headache-free Emily is like. I’m so excited to show ME what a headache-free Emily is like. I’m hoping this will be the end of an eight-year battle; and I’ll be on the winning team.

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