My mother taught me to “savor the in-between times”

I will never forget pulling my car over in the middle of traffic to be sick on the side of the road. I was 24 years old and that marked the start of the Migraine attacks that still plague me almost three decades later. My mom had severe Migraine attacks most of her adult life, so I knew what was happening. Despite the genetic connection, it took a few visits to the hospital before I was officially diagnosed.

I have tried just about everything to manage Migraine, including opioids, preventative medications, holistic treatments, a decade of triptan use, and even the silly suggestions on social media, like sitting in the bathtub with frozen peas on my head! Sadly, I have not been able to get more than temporary relief and have had to give Migraine more control over my adult life than I would like to.

Like many with Chronic Migraine, I’ve been unable to work for many years. Despite this, I am a fairly happy person with a life full of hobbies, family, and friends. As my poem (below) shows, living with Migraine can sometimes be depressing. However, when the attack is happening, I remind myself that it’s only short-lived, and then I will feel ok. It is my hope that one day my Migraine attacks will stop.

Using Creativity to Cope with Pain

My mom Shirley died on Dec 2, 2016, at 69 years old after living with an inoperable brain tumor for 19 years. My mother gave me Migraine but she also gave me creativity, artistic talent, and a joyful outlook. I love to create through poetry, photography, painting, drawing, and jewelry design. Writing poetry about my migraines helps me show others the impact they have on my life, and that they are not just another headache.

If I have learned anything from my mother’s life and her struggles, it is that we should never wait to do the things we enjoy, and we should spend as much time with the people that we love while we are able to. I try to incorporate this philosophy into my life, spending as much energy as I can creating, having fun, volunteering, traveling and adventuring.

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I try to do as much as I can, when I can. I make a point to learn something new everyday and to know my limitations. The purpose of life, for me, is to have fun and help others, making memories as I go along – and that is exactly what I do when I am migraine-free.

The Migraine: An Original Poem About Migraine

Vertiginous,

Equilibrium off,

Exhausted.

Comparable to a drug-induced haze,

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I have fifteen minutes to prepare for HELL.

Nauseated, I retreat to bed,

In the fetal position, I hold my head.

It pounds, like a sledgehammer against steel,

As waves of fireless burning flow through my being.

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I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m a broken thermometer.

poem about migraine

There is light the end of the tunnel! Like a candle, my Migraines are hot and firey but they are dwindling down. The tiger on my bandana is a symbol of strength and determination.

I can’t eat, I can’t drink.

It won’t stay down.

Waves of sickness clutch my stomach,

It will not settle without a pharmaceutical.

An invisible knife punctures my head,

Entering the base of my skull with perfect precision.

I cry —–

But only on the inside. Begging, pleading to an unseen force,

I whimper,  as my head is in an ephemeral vice,

MAKE IT STOP!

I wonder —is this punishment?

for some mortal sin in a past life…

Or is it a trial, of how much I can endure.

I take another pill.

It subsides a little.

Enough to function,

But not for long.

Not long enough for commitment,

Not long enough to make money.

I have survived the first pang of days.

But Like a long-lost bad memory,

It will return with a vengeance.

Each time trying to break my spirit.

But it will not because I persevere.

Savouring the in-between times,

When I can create,

I can travel, I can live.

And forget the shadow of my agony,

If for just a time.

by Kathleen Dempsey, Toronto Ontario Canada. January 4th, 2018.

Comments? Can you relate to this poem about Migraine?

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