Tuesday, December 8, 2009

fluctuat nec mergitur*

* "She tosses on the waves but does not sink".

I remember when I spent a semester living in Paris during college, I frequently took comfort in this phrase, the motto of the city of Paris. I had a lot of trouble there with culture shock and the language barrier, even though I spoke quite a bit of French when I went. Now that I'm struggling, again, in troubled waters - this time because of chronic illness - I find myself coming back to this phrase.

November proved to be one of the hardest months of the year. The first three weeks I felt tossed around by the weather coming through, wave after wave of storms. We set all sorts of records for rainfall, and not surprisingly, the November storms brought huge wind and dramatic pressure changes. A perfect storm for Migraine misery. I spent three weeks doing nothing but my part-time job (a paltry 18 hours a week) and laying on the couch, and remembered how awful it is to be so sick.

The third week of storms, I decided to increase the dosage of acetazolamide, as Dr E had advised I could do. I lasted four days at that dose. It's hard to tell, but I want to say it made my head pain worse. I say it's hard to tell because I was already feeling so bad that it was difficult to tell what pain came from which trigger.

And when things began to look up, when the storms calmed and I stopped the higher dose of acetazolamide, when my mom came into town for Thanksgiving, I was tossed by yet another wave. My boss called me the Sunday night before Thanksgiving to let me know he was laying me off, because he just couldn't afford to keep paying me anymore. And to add insult to injury, the unemployment office is "reviewing my claim" and hasn't paid me in over a month.

The past few years have been an exercise in treading water and just trying not to drown in the stormy waves of chronic illness, constant pain, debilitating Migraine symptoms, adverse effects, depression, anxiety, unemployment, financial strain, frustration, stress. While my pain levels have undoubtedly improved over the past year, my emotional state has gotten worse.

I'm ready for this bad cycle to end. I'm ready for some good news. I'm ready for some smooth sailing. But I clearly don't get a choice in the matter. Chronic illness (and unemployment) is all too good at reminding us how little in life we can actually control; I'm left trying to weather this storm, trusting that I won't sink.

Be well,

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.


Kelly said...

I am so sorry for your pain and just wanted you to know that I completely understand the life you are living. I know that for my roommate (who is in similar or perhaps even worse condition than what you describe) - just the validation of someone believing your experience can make a huge difference. I'm sorry there's not more being done to help this condition. I hope you're able to feel some relief soon.

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I totally understand..and when you are sooo sick and in a difficult job market it makes it very hard to look for work. And that stress just feeds the cycle. Wishing and hoping that brighter days are ahead and this migraine cycle ends soon.

Mindy said...

I'm right there with you. It is hard not to feel like a failure. Know you are not and you are not alone.

Annie said...

Hey MJ,

I'm sorry you have to be going through this too. I'm in a similar chronic illness/no income situation and with such little help for people in the situation, emotional well-being definitely takes a hit.

I hope things start looking up for you.


Joey said...


What a perfect analogy for not only migraine but chronic illness. As I told u (on Healthcentral) there is much synchronicity between us. I pretty much got sick when I was in Paris after graduating college. I remember getting a fever on the way there & then spending 3 nights with my brain thinking thoughts in broken french (true story!)

Now, going through a social experience, reading a book, or most other activities that used to be second nature is like a foreign exchange experience.

I'm glad to hear that things are cyclical for you, as that means the storm does tend to wax & wane. I wish you the best, and thanks for painting a picture we can all relate to so well.