On October 8, 2017 I got an early birthday present that I really, really did not want or need. I got the worst migraine that I have ever had, and it has never gone away. I have had better days, but I have not been migraine free since then. I have had a migraine for 303 days in a row (and counting).
And honestly migraines hurt – a lot.
I have a great neurologist and his staff is amazing, but so far none of the medications that we have tried has worked very well. I have chronic, daily migraines, and I am rarely migraine free for more than a few hours at a time. The migraine is always there – always present – and it is always annoying.
And the pain isn’t the only fun side effect to the migraines. I honestly feel like I am losing IQ points. I have word recall problems which is delightful for a person who uses words for a living. Preaching and leading Bibles studies is certainly more interesting. I delight in remembering that word for “liquid, reddish, purple-y, stuff we drink during Holy Communion.” Or misspeaking and thanking everyone for “donor-ing” our “beautiful Pentecost poinsettias.” Jack now graciously feeds me words when my brain can’t come up with them (talk about a hard lesson in humility). My spelling was once just bad, but now it is downright wretched! I am thankfully not sensitive to light, but I am sensitive to sound. We are learning to laugh “Mom Migraine Brain” off, but I am not as sharp as I used to be and it is hard and humbling.
Most days I am pretty good at keeping on – keeping on. I learned quickly that the best way for me to deal with the pain is distraction. I keep busy – busy – busy. Knitting helps (but then knitting helps EVERYTHING)! NO sitting still for me. Jason described it once as – “It’s like you are trying to outrun the pain.” “Exactly” – I thought – “Now let’s move!” And so I/we keep busy – very busy.
This strategy has worked wonderfully. I work full time at a job I love. (Lutherans are a magnificent distraction.) I have two children. I have laundry and meals to cook (see the two quickly growing sons). I have lots of yarn to knit, gardening to do, and hikes to hike. I can always depend on Jason for a great big distracting walk. The man will walk in the rain, the snow, or 100 degree temperatures. He will walk the treads right off a pair of hiking shoes and not think anything of it.
Poor Jason and Cheryl (when I am not on sabbatical) have borne the brunt of my feeling rotten. These two should win awards for kindness, loving compassion, and patience with a grumpy, frustrated migraine lady. It is a shame Lutherans don’t do saints, because Cheryl and Jason could be nominated just for putting up with me!
Anyway – the constant migraines have been hard, but I have coped (or tried to).
But then this week happened. This week I hit a great big brick wall. This week was the first week in my sabbatical agenda/plan when I was supposed to spend more time reading, thinking, and writing. This week, I was supposed to sit still!!!! (I haven’t done that on purpose in months.) Then my brain rebelled and kicked in with killer migraines all week. Add to this the fact that Jason went back to work, and William is with his Mimi and Papa (my two best distractions were otherwise occupied).
For the first time I seriously questioned this whole sabbatical idea.
Enter a new book!
One of the books I am reading this week has been really challenging. It is One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. The premise of the book is to find God’s presence in our daily lives – in the everyday moments – in the nitty gritty of our busy, bustling, stressful, messy, sometimes painful lives. It was just the sort of challenge I needed, because honestly this week was challenging. (My soul was just plain weary from these annoying, painful, exhausting migraines.).
I spent time this week working on a list of blessings – messy – every day blessings from God that I might have missed if I hadn’t been looking.
Here are a few of these grace moments for which I give thanks:
- Teachers who make new students feel welcome in their new school with warm smiles, kind advice, and grace
- Flower beds literally overflowing with black-eyed Susans
- Hudson and Katherine (my in-laws’ golden retrievers) playing with John in a field
- One very proud, very excited, very loved high school freshman
- green, green, green grass
- Cousins playing together
- A hummingbird fluttering from flower to flower in a garden
- Bella on stilts – her smile was radiant
- Bob’s (Jason’s dad) smile when he saw Jason after 2 months
- Lunch with family
- Mimi talking about her amazingly, awesome, wonderful, delightful grandchildren
- Ice cold tea and LOTS of it – no one in the world makes tea like they do in Louisville
- Walks with Jason
- Hammocks swinging
- An incredibly generous, very surprising gift that came at the PERFECT time
- Tomatoes that are red all the way through to the very center – yum!
- A really hot Kentucky day – I love summer in Kentucky
- William soaked to the skin from playing in the water with Uncle John and Nic
- Laughter with John and Elizabeth who are both family and truly friends
- Quiet moments with family
- A cup of coffee as the sun rises
- The view of our lawn from my favorite spot on the couch
I encourage you to join me in looking.
Yes – I agree – life is messy. Life is complicated and challenging and weird and crazy. It is fun and funny too.
Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot, but we are not alone. God is with us in this messy, challenging, busy, bustling world we all call home.
May God bless you and keep you today and always.