I’m on the outside looking in at a life larger than me. Migraine requires a departure from a society that doesn’t wait for me to be well again. Time moves forward with or without my involvement.
I volunteer at a local cat rescue. I’m part of a group of women of various ages coming together to save cats and bring people and felines together. It’s a facility filled with scented oil dispensers, which I refer to as the enemy out to steal my day.
I know it’s my problem, not theirs. A little compassion would be nice though, especially when the AC was broken for several weeks. Temperatures soared up to 87 degrees inside the building, and I was breathing through an N95 mask while spending hours cleaning the home of my furry little friends.
Eventually, I accepted the risk and removed the mask. I medicated the consequences later in the air-conditioned comfort of my home in the middle of the night.
Often people will tell me I can quit volunteering; I don’t have to go to the outdoor concert filled with cigarette smoke. I don’t have to meet friends for dinner at a time past my window of opportunity for eating. I don’t have to see the movie filled with strobing lights. Sure, I don’t have to be part of society.
I want to participate. I want to enjoy talented musicians. I want to share food and conversation with friends, I want to view a cinematic marvel, and I want to experience the rewards of community involvement. I want to be normal, whatever that is.
Over the years, I’ve identified my triggers and can recognize early symptoms of my episodes. Without hesitation, I administer medication as soon as possible, and I can continue to function on the edge of a life that is larger than me.
On the occasions isolation removes me from life, it’s easy to relinquish to self-pity and feel others have abandoned me. I’m only human. It’s OK to visit a state of despair, I just try not to take up permanent residence there.
It’s not that people don’t care about the plight of those who have migraine episodes. Everyone has their own priorities. In this way, we are all normal. The trick is finding the people who value you as much as you value them. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.
I’m fortunate in that I’ve found friends and family who accept what it means to care about a migraine warrior. They know when to lower their voice, dim the lights, and be patient. They understand I’m doing all I can, and they quietly wait for my return to our social circle.
It’s taken years for me to learn to accept the realities of living with migraine, and I’m sure I’m not finished learning yet. With each new social circle I encounter, there will be trial and error. Migraine management is a daily balancing of risk and reward.
Migraine is part of my social life whether I like it or not. I don’t hide it and I don’t apologize for it. I’m not for everyone, and that’s fine. Knowing a few true friendships and lots of cats are on the other side of migraine pain is all I need.
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