Migraining……Yes, it’s a verb!

I use the term “migraining” very intentionally. A migraine is something that happens to me. Migraining is my response; it’s the behaviors I have as a result of the migraine.

This weekend was fun, but something triggered a migraine response in my body. Could be in part the heat or some allergen in the air. My one dog, Lilith, has been itching more than usual so I’m wondering if that’s it. But, I was also around cigarette smoke, up close, and that has an extremely bad effect on me.

Once a migraine is triggered for me, it can take days for it to really resolve. As a child, I got migraines on and off. I hated them and often threw up when I had them. They tended to last just an evening. I rarely took any medication, not even aspirin. I hated meds. I would go into a dark room, listen to quiet music, make myself as cool as possible. I used to soak paper towels in milk and put them on my eyes because it was soothing.

I’ve been through periods where the migraines have gotten worse and worse. I did have specific meds for migraines much later in life, and they sort of helped. However, the problem was that I needed more than would be prescribed per month because at times, especially this time of year, I might have symptoms every day. I have gone a month with a migraine every day. I had a few hours that month with no symptoms, but then they started again.

My fibro meds have helped the fibro a bit, but they have helped the fibro even more. I don’t get full-blown ones quite as much. The pain that kept me from functioning is not there, but the other symptoms have been. I would still get nauseous. I finally have something for the nausea, but it has made it every evident what the other symptoms are. I have whole body pain and I feel very dizzy and out of sorts. I don’t think clearly at all. I used to not be able to eat and wouldn’t so I wouldn’t throw up, but now I crave the very foods that are supposed to trigger migraines in some people. I want chocolate at that time. I like chocolate, but I don’t crave it like I did years ago. Sometimes it doesn’t even taste as yummy as it did. But, when I have a migraine, I soooo want it.

I’m upset today because I downed a huge amount of trail mix. I was doing reasonably well trying to lose weight. I wanted to lose some more before Halloween and before an event in September. I know it’s a long journey, but I wanted to feel like I was making progress. I didn’t want to screw it up, but somehow shoveling food in my mouth today helped with the headache. That makes no sense, but it is how it was. There is a lot of stuff written about using food to distract from emotional problems, which I’ve done, but there seems to be nothing about eating because of pain. I have used it to distract from a migraine but also from fibro pain.

I can’t work out most of the time with a migraine because it often makes it worse. Not always, but much of the time.

So, what in the world do I mean by “migraining?” Let me tell you about my day. I got up late. Not something that is that unusual, but the inability to concentrate is worse. I feel all fuzzy both physically and mentally. However, I knew I needed to see at least one of my patients. I have moved her to every other week because she really can do ok with that. However, she wants constant attention. This is an older adult who is slightly mentally retarded and has a lot of anxiety and symptoms of OCD. Most people tell the same story over and over, but she takes this to the extreme. She also has to go into detail about everything, such as telling me the birthdays and children of each person she mentions in a story. If I interrupt or even comment, she comes back and tells me I’m not listening. When I’ve had to call to cancel because I was really sick, she has gone into this whole thing about maybe needing another counselor. That would honestly be fine with me. I can’t afford to be losing patients right now, but I drive about an hour and a half round trip to see her and get paid only about $46 total, not even half of my actual rate.

This is a patient that I took on so I’d get more referrals from MHMR. I just started getting them again, and that may be a good thing. These “traditional Medicaid” patients are the ones I need to move away from because it pays so poorly.

Anyway, I go to see her. I have to work when sick a lot of time, even when really not feeling well. She was in a state today. She does not have long distance, and I’ve told her to call her sister or caseworker if she needs me, and to have them call me. Well, this time it was that sister that was the problem. Or so I think. I sat, trying not to fall asleep, and listened. I tried to comment, but she felt I was not listening if I did that. She was angry at that sister. She gets angry because she has so little control over certain areas of her life. Her one sister takes care of the financial stuff, and the other sister is involved in running the place where she lives. She is in a better situation than many, many adult patients who present with both mental retardation and mental health problems. However, she does not at all recognize this.

Migraining……I can sit and try to listen. I can make sure my behaviors are “listening” behaviors. I did that. I spent too long with her, though, because that ability to set boundaries is not there when I have a migraine. I can’t deal with confrontation, and confrontation can be an important part of therapy. With this patient, it’s especially important but also especially tricky. I finally got out of there. That should not be the way a therapist thinks, but in this case it was. She takes advantage, and I need to set boundaries with her. In fact, setting boundaries is an important part of her treatment. She needs to recognize that she can handle many of her problems. Today was not the day I could set boundaries easily. I felt trapped. I did not have the internal strength to make sure I set clear boundaries.

I went to the next place, where I have several patients. But, I couldn’t function. I talked to one who really needed to talk to me. I took a bit of time with him. That home is the home of my “adopted” parents. They have helped me and act like surrogate parents to me at times. They used to be regular foster parents, but now they seem to be focusing on helping their grown up foster children and basically random people. They are adult foster parents and do other work, and I work with them in some instances. I knew “mom” had an idea for something that would help me and had wanted to talk about that, so I went over for me as well.

I sort of could focus, and I was able to help one patient express to an old patient (a former foster child who was visiting and helping his ex-foster mom, my “mom,” build a staircase up to the front door). This patient of mine wanted to tell his former foster brother how proud he was of him and how he was inspiring him. It was a good moment, and one my current patient said required my help. He often needs support to express important feelings. I sat and supported him while he told his former foster brother that he was proud of him.

I am trying to read what I am writing now, and it’s hard. I am still in physical pain. It’s not located in the head necessarily, but it is a migraine. I know what I am saying is hard to follow. I know what I am saying lacks any real cohesion or interest.

But, that’s what I mean by “migraining.” It has to do with a very fuzzy head and an inability to think clearly. I often have to work in spite of it, and I try to give my patients my best even on those days. I push awareness of the migraine away, but it does not go away completely.

I am exhausted and upset because I want this blog to be meaningful, so I’m coming up with an entry today. Migraining impacts how I make decisions. I do what I feel I “have” to do if at all possible. That can include feeding the dogs, but it goes further. I focus on just what “has” to be done. I see patients if possible, but I know I’m not “there” for them as much as I’d like. I go shopping because I need to get something for the dog’s skin, but I start just putting things in the cart, both food and other stuff. I can’t make good decisions. I feel very tired, more so than usual if possible. I push through. People say to push through a lot of things, including pain. But, in this case, I function because I have to function. I just don’t function well, either personally or professionally. I feel guilty about what I’ve bought, about eating, about not being more present with my patients, about cancelling with some. I feel like a crummy person, but I don’t know how to do better when I cannot think clearly.

I write pretty badly, too! I write things that are not interesting, even to me. I hope I’m able to at least give you a clue of what it’s like to live with illness and yet try to be a good therapist. On that other side of the couch, I’m just wishing I could push the patient off and lie down myself. I don’t want to deal with my emotional issues, though. I want a nap, one that lasts several days. And, I daydream about having someone to take care of me, but I don’t trust anyone to do that. I don’t want someone out to just “rescue” women because they won’t be around when I’m doing better then. I wish there was someone, some family or lover or friend, how really could take care of me at these times. But, there’s only me. I have to pay the bills. I have to make sure my practice is a business that can keep me going. I used to have these when I worked for others, and it was even more of a problem because they did not understand. It was really tough to teach, but I would walk around with Sprite and crackers and take handfuls of pills to try to stop the pain. When I worked for an agency, I would try to act as if I was functional, but I know I was not able to think clearly. I didn’t get any real work done. I’d sneak and lie down on the floor to try to get some rest so that it would go away.

Migraining is about feeling so out of it. But, my life it about having to try to push through even though pushing through might be damaging in and of itself. It doesn’t help in healing at all, but it is something I have to do.

On the other side of the couch, I so want to help my patients. But, on that other side, I often am feeling horrid. I am focused on working to take care of myself financially, and I am focused on working to help my patients. I’m trying not to be on the streets having a migraine.

Right now, emotionally, I am very upset. I wanted to write an interesting blog, and it’s not. I wanted to be someone who I found interesting, and I’m tired of myself.

On the other side of the couch, I think I’ll just curl up here on the floor where no one will see me and try to get some rest before I have to deal with patients again. I don’t have time or energy for myself, to get really healthy, and I don’t have anyone here to help me. But, I’ve been doing it all on my own for so long that I’m not sure it matters. I’m not sure anything matters.

How does a migraine make me more depressed? It does because I want to be so much more than this person I am. I’m old, fat, unable to do the things I want to do, sick………..

Big secret? I wish there was someone to take care of me, just once in a while, so I wouldn’t have to do everything alone. There isn’t, as one of my sisters-in-law so nicely pointed out when I had surgery. No husband. No children. She thought the answer would be relying on some corporate job or usual job so that they would take care of me. Been there, and that did not help. They did not help me deal with being sick, and I got sicker working for both the school district and a foster care agency. It set me up for the full-blown fibro, and I lived in fear of losing that job because of my illness. I don’t care that there is a law to protect people from that. It doesn’t. If they want to get rid of you, they can. They can make life miserable, and make symptoms worse.

Apparently, migraining really has a lot to do with feeling sorry for oneself.

Whine. Pain. Physical illness. Mental strife and self-loathing. Bad writing. Poor choices, whether in food or in shopping. Staying up late because I napped earlier. Trying to focus on patients and on doing my job, and yet not feeling better or doing better. Apparently, that’s part of migraining.

Damn. Need to turn off the infomercials. They are making me hate myself more because I’m fat. Yep. That’s what I need to be thinking about. Maybe even writing a bad blog is a way to distract from the migraine.

I once described fibro as a whole body migraine. The migraines I have, whether silent or not, are layered on top of the fibro, though. I am reaching out, and I am sure I sound like my incredibly whiny patient. Is it catching? I can’t think clearly.

I have to sit behind that couch and do my job because I need to take care of me and the dogs. I choose this business because I do love it much of the time, I have some mad skills when feeling ok and even when sick I’ve done ok.

Go to bed, Self. Post the boring blog. Maybe someone who can’t tell a loved one how it feels to be sick can use this to help. Besides, no one is reading!

Migraining…….trying to function with symptoms of a migraine and feeling “less than” because I am not well right now. Feeling fuzzy headed and out of it and trying to do whatever “has” to be done because there is no one to do it but me, and if there was, would it be someone who wanted me when I was healthy or just someone who was with me so they could feel like a rescuer?

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~ by Janice Holladay on August 30, 2011.

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