Who would think that suffering with a chronic disabling Migraine Disease, and other invisible Illnesses, that during the course of time you could find any good to come out of all the pain and suffering. Let alone to find any blessings in any of the chaos-with all the conflicting diagnosis, tests, trips to doctors offices, being yanked from one specialist to another, and trying all different concoctions of medications as well as a slew of alternative and holistic approaches, to try to find some sort of relief of any sort! Some people would not blame you if you just walled yourself up, shut yourself off from the outside world and wallowed in your own pity, crying day after day “why me”. Some people actually do that for a while until they wise up and too fortunately others still stay stuck in that self-pity mode. If you stay in pity mode for too long you end up living a life on your own. My Blessings are my Lessons learned because as you go through life and your given a task or a lesson, you work on it, trouble shoot it and overcome it, and then apply it positively to your day-to-day life I consider that a Blessing-to take a negative and make it a positive to live by, follow and hopefully inspire others.
Human nature is self-preservation. It’s in our genetic makeup and being human and all we cannot overlook that flaw we all have built into us. We can however change our perspective and relearn a new thought process and coping mechanisms if and when we get out of the initial grief process given a diagnosis of a disease that has no cure. Of course the process is far, far worse for those with a terminal illness. But pain is pain no matter which way you slice it and to live in it and with it day in and day out not only wears out the body but the mind and soul as well. NOT to minimize those with terminal illness, I would never do that. BUT you do have a way out by learning to put others first and not focusing on your own pain so much but by putting empathies’ on others above yourself. In the process this makes your suffering seem less catastrophic and gives you a better mind-set makes for a more peaceful transition into a balancing act of normalcy, or what we can come close to in the Invisible Illness Community. You take the hand you’re dealt with and make the best of it. Oh sure you can moan and groan and have a little pity party and bombard friends and family with daily or weekly emails of how sick you are and how hard it is to manage. And it could be very well true as we all know. But after a while those people that you moan to and complain to after awhile will turn a deaf ear to it all and become desensitized by your plight and minimalizing your illness and you as well. And that as a result will diminish the plight of all chronic pain sufferers everywhere in the long run.
I have seen over the years waiting in the doctors or specialists waiting rooms people worse off than I am on an outward appearance and I feel empathy towards them. I’d go out of my way to open doors for them when entering or exiting the building, or letting them get ahead of me in line-no matter where I am: at the store, the pharmacy or at the check in desk at the clinics. And then I would get to wondering about the people that didn’t show any outward sign of distress (as it can be easy to hide sometimes in public, based on the severity of pain that is) and I would silently wonder what demon (s) they are dealing with and I’d feel empathy for them. Not many “well” people wait for an hour in the neurologist waiting room for the heck of it if they feel well, let’s put it that way. And I’d marvel at how composed some people were that they’d keep their pain hidden from the public. Other times some people would persistently go up to the desk and demand to be seen sooner than the others that came in ahead of them. I would not know their situation fully so I would not sit and judge unless on a few occasions they carried on because they had an audience. But again you cannot judge that person’s circumstances like they cannot judge yours. I’m sure if I allowed myself to be taken to the hospital with a full-on horrible migraine I would not be a pretty picture, so one could only imagine.
I do admit at first I was in the denial, weepy, self-centered “why me” phase for a while and I moaned and groaned and went on about the injustice of it all. Then you look and see newborn babies born premature or with devastating birth defects then you start to feel foolish. Then you see people have strokes, get cancer and die of Diabetes and you feel more foolish. Pain is pain and sickness is sickness. It does not discriminate-we are all destined to be grasped by its devastating effects. I have learned this humbling experience along the way and slowly I learned to put others first and to pray for others first. Because in the end we are all in the same boat one way or another-suffering and trying to cope. And when I’m struck down with another debilitating migraine and as I do my meditation in my dark room with my Migraine toolkit and fight it out, I take a moment to remind myself that there are others out there less fortunate that I am and who have it worse.
I have learned that there are people who cannot afford the medical care and medications I receive and that is unjust. I feel blessed that I do get good care and pray that others can have access to even better health care. I will always try to think the best and wish for the best of others as I fight through my attacks. I learned I am blessed to be provided for as I look at people in line at the grocery store, and especially the senior citizens. I see them digging in their purse or billfold to pay for their groceries and I wonder what hard time they are having and say a silent prayer for them. Or if I see a handicapped person I give them the immediate right of way or help them reach for something on the shelves if they appear to have trouble. Any kind of helping hand is better than none at all. I often wonder if they sacrifice food for meds or visa versa and what a terrible predicament that is. Then I’m humbled and shame myself not to complain. Then I will be at the deli counter and someone has waited longer that me, so I let them go ahead of me. Also if someone is in front of me in the checkout line and lacking some change for their purchase I will offer it if I have it not judging, but with empathy that they are having a hard time making ends meet-do they have to spend their life
savings on food and/or medicines I often wonder. I do not judge but I have empathy and I realize that after all these years that yes, I suffer horrible pain, but I will recover and continue on. I have shelter, food, medicine, family and good medical care so for that I have learned my pity party is No More. And I interact with people online that are more ill or as ill as myself, and I put the focus on them-not me. I will share my experiences if it feels right and maybe that is why I have this Chronic Invisible Illness-to help others with my experience and insight.
We don’t know the master plan of why this and that happens, and we are not supposed to know why, but we can do our best to conquer, survive and thrive. I have also come to realize that yes indeed there are others that have it worse than me and how dare I whine and complain about what may be trivial as compared to someone who may be terminally ill or have a more chronic condition that I do. It is not a contest of who is the sickest and it’s appalling when you see that play out in life, the “I’m sicker than you are because of this or that” or make a competition out of it. Come on, grow up people and see the bigger picture. It would do no good in the end and would only end up adding to my suffering and make me or someone else lonely, bitter, and resentful ole hag. And who the heck wants to be around that? NOT me! Attitude is half the battle and if you win that you’re on the home stretch. Life is what you make of it, as it’s been often quoted but so very, very true. And your attitude impacts your health-mind over matter. It’s been proven and from what I’ve tried to practice I’ve found it to be true. I’m human and I slip up from time to time, but then I will catch myself and put it all back on track. It’s a constant learning experience. I’ve learned doing a daily gratitude journal is a great way to reinforce this mindset, and to practice writing daily what I have to be grateful for. It’s all about keeping things in perspective. And also by doing daily Bible Devotions as well and incorporating them into my journaling and remembering while meditating through the pain or even on tolerable days-it doesn’t matter what the circumstance remember what I have to be grateful for and how fortunate God gave me the gift of another day so I make the best of it as best as I can.
I have learned to be a better patient as well. To research online before my appointments and take any documentation with me and especially make sure my information sheet I make up and take with me is better organized and updated with current medications, supplements and symptoms I’m having trouble with. I learned a valuable lesson from a pier online how to make a better patient form and my last visit I took my draft and the doctor was very appreciative. They see so many patients in a day that they don’t have the time to go through the electronic files and remember everything about each patient. I keep mine to two pages max as not to overload him/her and I update it as soon as my medications are updated and/or changed so that I don’t have to do it last minute before my next appointment. I have come to be more organized in some areas but a work in progress in other areas.
**These are by far the best lessons I have learned-to be unselfish, compassionate, , patient, calm, focused, forgiving, dedicated, spiritual, humble and self sacrificing. I have finally learned to stop fretting and worrying about tomorrow or the future-it’s out of my hands to an extent as God has the master plan. So I take each day as a present and consider tomorrow a gift. I have learned to love unconditionally even if it is not returned, to let go of past grudges-let it go and don’t fester on it-it only hurts you not the person your grudging. And to live each day like it’s my last. To not hold material possessions as more important than family, friends and life-you can’t take it with you and it’s only temporary while we walk this earth. We didn’t grow up with much and mom and dad always told us you came into this world without a penny and you will leave without it, so don’t put value on meaningless material things-God first, family second and friends. It helps too that my parents raised me this way-to do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. We were constantly told that as we grew up. It was actually hammered into us as well as to respect your elders and to always say please and thank you, and to always be humble. And it’s not worth it to fight-who cares who’s right or wrong. Usually the person you’re arguing with will not change their outlook or perspectives, so why waste your breath and time. But to stand up for friends and family and lend a helping hand to others
in need when possible. It hammers home the practice of turning the other cheek, which for people as a rule we are prideful and do not want to turn the other cheek and let any insult or wrong-doing pass. No, we want an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We want punishment-we want revenge. It eats us alive over time because we let it, and that negativity also feeds to chronic pain. We are not in general forgiving people. I have worked hard to overcome that thought process and have forgiven a past horrendous act against me physically and emotionally. My attacker did not ask for forgiveness, but I gave it after years of repressing it then seeking help and dealing with it to get my PTSD in control. I do feel freer to have done this and talking about it helps-that in and of itself if anyone takes away anything from this post it should be that-FORGIVE any past grievances, work on it with a counselor if needed like I did, talk to friends and pray, pray, pray on it. With work you can let it go and that too improves your outlook on dealing with chronic pain. There is truth in mind over matter. Practice and believe it because it’s true. Again, it will not cure you but makes the whole situation more tolerable. It’s ok to have bad days and slip, but recognize it, correct it, and get back in line.
I have also learned over time and research there is NO cure for this disease and have come to grips with it. I have made peace with it and even when I have sometimes well-meaning family and friends say I need to work harder and go places to be "cured", it's fruitless to try to re-educate them that this is cureless, I let it now go over my head and pass by me like the breeze and not upset me anymore. I have learned, the hard way, that they will never get it even seeing reports in print and online so why fret over it and stress over it. I'm at peace with it and let it pass me on by. That is a Blessing that I can come to terms with the disease and almost make friends with it by letting it be my teacher.
Well, mom and dad, it finally stuck and yes I did learn something after all. As they are watching down from heaven I can only hope I’ve done justice to their lessons taught. You cannot take Southern manners out of a Southerner, even when I’ve been transplanted to a Northern location :)
Sometimes Chronic Illness can be a blessing in disguise with all the lessons you learn along the way. Especially for me as these are my experiences and what I have learned and can attest to. You can learn how to be a better person and leave a positive footprint in the lives of others. I think that being so ill and struggling with chronic and most times excruciating pain daily, and focusing on being positive, peaceful and calm-meditating and praying through it with my calming mediation music, my darkened sanctuary, essential oils and my best puppy friend. That along with my parents teaching has made me a better person. At least I like to think so.
Migraine Carnival April 2013 Theme: Unexpected Blessings that have come out of our experiences living with Migraine Disease and other Headache Disorders.
Migraine Carnival Blog Postings for April 2013