I’m in a lot of pain a lot of the time. But, I do everything I possibly can to work through it, hide it, pretend like it’s not happening, etc.
I was diagnosed with atypical migraines several years ago.
I’m in this photo, and I’m smiling. And, my head hurts badly enough that it feels like it has an independent heartbeat, and I’m foggy. I probably shouldn’t be driving, and I’ve taken more than the maximum amount of migraine meds I should take. Before this photo, I felt my migraine returning at around 11AM, so I took a second pill about twelve hours after the last. Technically, that should have been ok, but I felt worse having taken the second pill. The headache didn’t subside, my stomach went nuts, and I felt so foggy and slowed down that I definitely should not have been driving. So, I stopped at a local library and just sat there hoping the fog would pass because I had obligated myself to being at this event.
The fog sort of passed, but the pain did not. And, on to my obligation I went. In pain. And, I stayed for about four hours. In pain.
I finally left, ate some food, drank lots of water (which I did at the event, too), and added CBD. I hopped into bed and actually felt better in my air-conditioned home. But, a few hours after I fell asleep, the migraine came back, and it was super worse. I couldn’t take more meds until morning, so I did whatever I could to make myself comfortable, and with the help of Benadryl, slept until morning. I had to cancel my Pilates class, which I love, so I could sleep and sleep some more. Finally, the next dose of meds helped the migraine subside, but I was so exhausted by this time that I just needed to sleep.
And, I worry that no one believes me. When I talked to my most recent neurologist, he asked me a common question, “How many days of work have you missed because of your migraines?” Well, none. But, I probably should have missed parts of several days if I were actually taking care of myself. But, somehow, that doesn’t seem to count. Pain only feels like it counts if you’re writhing and crying in pain and doing things (like missing work) that others would expect. Like, if other people can SEE your pain, then, you really have it. I do everything I can to make it look like I’m not in pain. I mean, I might tell people I’m in pain, but then, I keep working. And, when you say, “Oh, I really hurt,” but you just act like you do when you don’t hurt, I feel like it’s not surprising that people don’t really think your pain is that bad. As I mentioned, I have “atypical” migraines, which means I don’t have light sensitivity or aura. I just hurt a lot and sometimes get nauseous. I feel like the atypical part of it makes it even harder to believe because the migraine doesn’t include every single awful symptom that it could.
So, I guess this is my way of telling you that even when I’m smiling, I might be hurting. I obviously need to learn to prioritize my health rather than prioritizing proving to people I can work through pain. But, for now, I just want to let people know who have “hidden pain” that I trust you and I see you trying to push through it. It’s so stinking true that you never know what battle each person is fighting, and that is so hard because sometimes the battle that’s being fought makes a person disagreeable, unlikable, and maybe even nasty. But, lordy, trust people who tell you they hurt, and if you can, encourage them to take care of themselves. Some of us need the reminder.
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