People have often asked, "So how's Chad doing?" I don't think anything of it, and usually answer, "he's fine", because he is. He's always fine. Come on, it's Chad. Laid back, even-keeled Chad.
Then I realized that my friends were asking a serious, heavy question. These friends are showing they care and understand on a deeper level than those who just ask me how I'm doing. They know that chronic pain can be a huge stressor on a relationship. They understand that chronic pain changes things. They figure that if I'm not always doing well then it can't be easy on Chad.
I'm sure it's difficult to see someone you love in pain, all the time. It has to be frustrating to see the effects of the pain: me being spacey, not being able to think of words, forgetting things, having a wife at your side that looks pissed off (but is really in pain), missing activities because of the pain. And then there's the way it directly effects him: me being much more irritable when I'm in pain.
Yet through all this, Chad's love hasn't changed. He is patient. He is kind. He is not easily angered. He doesn't hold my irritability against me. He never complains. He supports me. He takes me seriously. It makes me smile when I overhear him in a conversation educating others about my condition and what I've been through.
I wouldn't say that this hasn't effected Chad, because I'm sure it has. I mean, how could it not? But I'm not sure how it has, because his love remains unconditional. I don't have a perfect husband, because those don't exist. But it warms my heart that Chad takes his marriage to me seriously as a reflection of Jesus' unconditional love to the church. I'm so undeserving but so grateful.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
(I wanted to focus on the positive, so I wrote a "Dear Chiropractor #2" letter. But I just can't help myself. I need to get this out.)
Dear Chiropractor #1,
I came to you very early-on in my headache/migraine journey. In fact, it was well before I knew they were actually migraines. After my doctor sent me to physical therapy for tension headaches and that didn't work, I came to you. You were confidant and passionate about what you do. You said you were 99.5% (or was it 99.9%?) sure you could make my headaches go away, and asked me to stick with it for a few weeks. Heck, why wouldn't I, because you helped me meet my deductible (by only charging me $50 per visit for the few first visits, and then not making me pay my co-insurance later. I wonder why? Because you knew you were charging too much? Because you knew no one will continue to come to you if they had to pay that additional amount?) Whatever, I appreciated that at the time.
What I did not appreciate was your borderline inappropriate comments. I mean, come on, it's already a vulnerable position to be in when you're adjusting my back in a bear hug position and adjusting my skull or neck by cradling my head in your hands. Incorporating a little more professionalism would be nice. Or maybe you could just benefit from having a filter.
Doc: How tall are you?
Doc: I like tall women.
Doc: You really look like one of my ex-girlfriends. She was hot.
Doc: I was thinking about you the other night in bed.... (and proceeded to talk about treatment).
Doc: Did you eat garlic?
Me: Oh yeah, sorry, I had some black bean soup before I came.
Doc: I can tell. Garlic breath is such a turn on.
Me: *eyes wide in disbelief*
Doc: When I met my wife she had garlic breath and I knew I was going to marry her.
And perhaps the most uncomfortable one...
Doc: Can I ask you a personal question?
Me: Um... I guess.
Doc: Do your headaches go away when you orgasm?
I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and saying that you probably just had no awareness how you were coming across. You are a married man with 3 kids, after all.
Now, I must admit that you did provide me with relief. But it wasn't lasting relief. It seemed to bother you that you couldn't 'cure' me. Are you so egotistical that it bothers you when you cannot fix someone? Let me break it to you: you aren't God. No human on this earth is going to cure me. What I didn't know at the time was that I have migraines, for which there is no cure because it is a genetic, neurological disease. Why did I not know they were migraines? Because you said they weren't. And I believed you. I was so uneducated and ignorant. You were convinced they weren't migraines because they are not one-sided and I do not get nauseus. Heck, I went with it and thought the same thing. Now I know you are wrong. There are many other symptoms to migraine. They do not have to be one-sided, and my other symptoms include inability to concentrate, word-finding problems, blurry vision, and intense pain across my forehead. I even sometimes get this weird Alice in Wonderland symptom, where I feel like my hands are huge, like giant hands. These are all true symptoms of migraines. When the pain is bad it goes to the base of my skull and also makes my neck and shoulders tight. I also know it's migraine because of specific triggers that cause the migraine, such as barometric pressure changes, fragrances, florescent lights, and loud noises.
There's no doubt that you are passionate about what you do. And I do think that you deeply care about helping your patients and about them becoming well. You had been a big part of my journey, so I contacted you to let you know about my upcoming inpatient treatment. Three weeks later you asked me how it went. And you still had the nerve to recommend something else to check out when "your treatments fail you". You wanted me to check out this doctor who does miracle work with hormones. You said you would be "happy to arrange a visit with him so you could be examined". When questioned what expertise he brought to the table concerning hormone work, you didn't have an answer. Just said "get to a point when you aren't cured or have reached a wall, then let's talk". That was the last straw. To recommend this after I told you all that I've been through is arrogant and very invalidating. Did you not get the point that I went to the experts in migraine treatment? That I'm so sick with these things that I had to be hospitalized and treated with IV drugs? And you think my hormones are off and causing this. Ultimately you had to be in control and would not give me the doctor's information. It is very unlikely that his work would cure me. I HAVE MIGRAINES! They're incurable. I'm not saying hormones aren't a part of it, but I have reasons to think they aren't, which you knew about (going off of birth control for 6 months and on a new one later, with no change in my migraines). So no, I will not be 'cured'. Yes, I will probably reach a wall at some point. Because I'm in the 4% of migraine sufferers who get into a chronic cycle and are difficult to treat.
Doc, I think you are very good at what you do. Which is treating soft tissue ailments with Active Release Technique (how did it go when you were invited to treat Sporting KC for a game, by the way?). Your expertise does not lie in treating patients with migraines. Next time, please admit you cannot do it all and refer to a headache specialist.
Wishing you the best (and that another chronic migraine patient never steps foot in your door),
Monday, January 16, 2012
(I had an idea to write a letter to Physical Therapist #1, Chiropractor #1, and Physical Therapist #2, because this blog is for me, to get my feelings and thoughts out, and I have some things to share with them. Instead, for now, I decided to focus on the positive and write to Chiropractor #2.
Dear Chiropractor #2,
Out of all (14) healthcare professionals I have gone to for my migraine, you are my favorite. This is because, from the beginning, you accepted me how I was, did not judge me, listened, and validated the reality I felt of my chronic pain. When I initially came to you, guarded and emotional about starting a new treatment, you gently shared what you could do to help me from your expertise with headaches. You weren't offended when I requested (demanded?) you share with me what you could do, and said I needed to hear how you would help me before I decided to start treatment. You did not promise it would cure me, and that in itself is so valuable to me. I realize I am probably not the easiest patient to deal with. Most of the times you see me, I'm not doing well. Sometimes it's because of the pain and sometimes it's because of circumstances in my life. Lots of times, both. Either you do a really good job of acting like you unconditionally accept your patients, or you really unconditionally accept them. I believe it's the latter. I have never felt like you were frustrated by me, my questions, my pain, or my emotions. When you say "you're fine!" when I apologize for being.... how I am... I believe you. You listen to me and incorporate that into my treatment with you (i.e. I dislike laying on my stomach). Your adjustments of my neck are clean and you always get it right the first time. I wouldn't trust anyone else with my precious head! Thank you for being my favorite healthcare professional and for everything that makes you my favorite. I am truly grateful that you are part of my journey.
A Very Satisfied Patient,
(Let me know if you want a referral to an amazing chiropractor in Overland Park.)
When you live with chronic pain, lots of things change. You can no longer do the things you used to do or the way you used to. You have to make accommodations in your life. You find yourself saying no when you want to say yes. Some might feel like their life is falling apart.
I thought about this idea of my life falling apart and wondered what is actually falling apart. I really had to think about it. I realized it was things like my plans/dreams for having a baby that are halted (and likely won't be as easy with the pain and needing to be off medications), my everyday plans and social events that get pushed aside because I'm in pain and need to rest, not feeling like I can do my job well (and the unknown of whether the migraine will ultimately take my job from me), gaining weight and not being able to work out like I used to.
I realized that all of these things were about me. It's what I wanted. They were my (selfish) plans. What has not changed and what has not fallen apart is God's faithfulness. He has always been there and will always be here. So how can I say my life is falling apart? It was never my life to begin with.
When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, you are King over the flood,
I will be still and know You are God.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I wouldn't consider myself a patient person. Instead of calling myself impatient I'd just like to say that I'm proactive and like to get things done. I just don't want to wait around when there can be something done.
For the past 3 days (since I returned to work- coincidence?), the daily migraines have returned. When I left the treatment at Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute, my daily pain was at a lower level than when I was admitted and when it did spike it was due to noticeable triggers. I had medication to decrease the pain, and it was controllable. It hasn't been like that the last 3 days. But up until the past few days, I've been on winter break just relaxing. It will be a matter of time to see how I continue to adjust to work and real life and how my pain level is. I have to wait, even though I don't want to. There are some things I can change and some things I cannot. And I'm trying to process what all this means. Trying to be an advocate for myself and change what I can, work on what I can, and accept what I cannot.
It's a very vulnerable position to be in. I've already been through a lot. And now the pain is back? So many things are going through my head that I don't want to be there.
Will I have a migraine today? Will I get better? Will I get worse this year and be just where I was before I went to MHNI? What if I find out (the stress from) my job is exacerbating my migraines and I can no longer stay at my job? I thought I was on the road to recovery, and I don't know if I can handle more 'trials', God. What if I get well and then have to go off all the drugs anyway when we want to have a baby? Should I just not have a baby, biologically, because of migraines? I'm only human, and these thoughts are hard to battle.
But here's the truth. I will get better. I've had 3 bad days in a row since being home. These bad days have also fallen during my menstrual cycle (I haven't noticed them worse during this time of the month before, but I can make note and track it). There was no reason to change my preventive medication regimen given that I was improved after returning from Michigan. I will be tracking how I'm doing and then adjustments can be made if needed. But, it's a process, and not a fast one. So I must be patient.
And here's the even bigger truth. There has been no doubt that God has had his hand in this journey all along. It was clear that He was leading us to MHNI. And I want to remain faithful to Him. He is holding me in the palm of his hand. And he has a plan for me. When you think about that, everything else doesn't seem so scary.
I'm not saying this is easy, but...
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
*Update: Later after I posted this, I checked the barometric pressure changes for the past 3 days, and it has been fluctuating a lot which could be a factor in my increased migraine pain.