Friday, September 12, 2008


Much like National Headache Awareness Week back in June, I've been extra aware of my head pain this week, which happens to be both Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and Migraine Awareness Week (in the UK). And I've spent this noteworthy week being rather ill, between a rather tall stack of Migraine triggers and some medical issues.

First, my family (Mom and sister) came to visit me. They live in Massachusetts, so it's an all-too-rare treat to have them come visit. Like me, they are both Migraineurs, so they "get it" about being sick and in pain, though neither of them have suffered with the severity of Migraine that I have.

My sister, mom and I went to Port Townsend for the long Labor Day weekend, to visit a pretty Victorian town none of us have seen, and to drive up to Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park. We drove up on Friday afternoon, returning on Monday. While it was a very laid-back trip and we cooked in the kitchen in our hotel room, it was still traveling, which always stresses out my body.

Tuesday through Friday, I was back at work, dealing with the typical stack of work triggers: fluorescent lighting, computer screen, food smells and noise. Being tired from the long weekend away made me more susceptible to my triggers, though I had a few days of recuperation before another long weekend. My mom spent the week traveling again, while my sister left on Monday night. In addition, the Lyrica I had been trialing as preventive #7 began giving me increasingly intolerable side effects, so with Dr E's okay I discontinued it on Friday, after several weeks of side effects.

Friday afternoon, DBF, my mom and I looked at a house before driving to Lake Chelan. This was more of a rush trip involving a lot of driving. By the time I got home Sunday night, I was completely worn out and dreading another week of work.

During my family's visit and our various trips around Washington state, the effectiveness of the Botox treatment I had back in June had been wearing off, meaning more pain and more Migraine symptoms. Luckily, Monday afternoon was my second round of Botox injections, and I was hoping for relief similar to my first treatment.

Wrong! This time, the injections hurt much more. Monday night, I felt awful. Bad enough that I called my doctor on Tuesday morning to report in about my side effects. Dr E called back quickly, and after asking me a few questions determined that I may be having a mild allergic reaction to the Botox. Great! He had prescribed a new preventive for me to try, Inderal, but suggested I hold off on it until I felt completely back to normal.

As if that stack of triggers and side effects wasn't high enough, I had a stressful week at work. My company laid off 20 employees on Tuesday, which amounts to about 5% of our firm. While we were very fortunate that my company was (and still is) financially stable, these employees were not laid off for performance issues. Our senior partners handled it well, holding four separate open discussions with the various teams and entire firm, inviting questions from everyone. They recognized how stressful the layoffs would be for all of us, but the shock of losing good employees (and friends) was difficult on everyone.

And because this stack wasn't quite tall enough yet, I worked 9-hour days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to try to make up for the work time I missed on Friday and Monday. So now, I'm in recovery mode.

What I need to remember in facing these types of life situations is that, first and foremost, I need to take care of myself. In my healthier years, I could handle the sort of stress that travel and work would put on my body without much trouble. But now that my Migraines are out of control again and I spend all of my time being sick, I need to take extra good care of myself during stressful periods. I've really done a number on myself, and I'm hoping that this weekend is enough to recover (though it may well not be).

I have been very frustrated and upset this week. Dealing with another failed preventive and an allergic reaction are difficult enough in my day-to-day life, but adding all this stress on top of it just threw my body for a loop. I had to leave work early today, after spending much of the day in a painful haze, to come home and nap. DBF woke me up for dinner, and after eating, I'm starting to feel less like road kill. I still feel incredibly dizzy, nauseous, achy (both Migraine- and Botox-related) and exhausted.

I had some plans this weekend, to go look at houses and run some errands. In all likelihood, I will have to postpone these plans and spend the weekend on the couch, trying to catch up on sleep and renew my energy reserves.

Megan over at Free My Brain wrote this week about her Migraines being invisible to herself. After these two weeks of overstressing my body and not taking enough recovery time, I find myself in the same boat. Acceptance of illness is a difficult path, and I find myself repeatedly learning the same lessons.

So, for the final few days of Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, I plan to be much more aware of my own illness, and treat myself with the patience and compassion I deserve.

Be well,


Diana Lee said...

I'm sorry you've been having an especially rough time lately, MJ. Take care.

Kelly, FlywithHope said...

It sounds like you've been having it really rough. My heart goes out to you dear one. I hope that this weekend will give you some much needed rest and hopefully relief.
I still struggle with accepting the limitations of my illnesses too. Acceptance is a hard road and probably more of a journey than a destination.
Take care of you. Sending love and gentle squeezes of the hand.

Leslie said...

Despite how you're feeling, MJ, I think that the things you mention in this post were well said and understood by many in the chronic illness world. I hope that things get better for you. And don't forget about the virtual support system that you have!

Ellen Schnakenberg said...

Hang in there MJ. My foggy brain and pounding head are with you... :)

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