What I've Learned By Chronicling Pain

Finding beauty while struggling with migraines.

migraine essay

I’ve written a few posts about my struggles with chronic pain — specifically chronic migraines. As I get older, the consequences of dealing with almost daily pain begin to become more and more obvious. For the first time in my life I’ve consciously made choices about my work life that take my migraines into consideration. In the past I’ve been determined not to let my pain impact my choices but it’s becoming too difficult to ignore that anymore. I found that if I don’t get a rest day every few days that my tolerance for my pain decreases. This has a negative impact on my mood and my ability to deal with stress. I found I was less patient with my kids and just felt like I was pushing through a day to get through it rather then living it.

I recently met with a new neurologist who put me on a new injectable medication — the first prophylactic medication made specifically for migraines.

Since starting this new medication and eliminating the hormone I’ve noticed a huge difference. I’ve found that I have days where I haven’t needed ANY break-through headache medication like Tylenol or a triptan. I think it has been YEARS since I’ve made it through a day without needing some kind of pain management.

This is obviously great news on my pain journey, but what I am going to say next might sound a bit backwards — so please hang in there as I write. It’s made me sad to see how happy, patient and energetic I’ve been. Certainly NOT because I am more happy, patient or energetic, but I’m sad because it has shown me the impact that my chronic pain has had on me and how therefore it has impacted my family. It makes me sad to think that I’ve wasted days just trying to “get through them” and not really trying to live in them.

As you’ve probably read in the past, my determination and resilience to ride through my pain is admirable, but I am starting to question what my life would have looked like without all that pain. This is obviously not a question worth asking as I can’t change the past and certainly never asked to suffer in pain almost daily.

I am however grateful I’ve been given the break in my pain for now. I try and live it day by day as my past has certainly shown me that my pain free days are much fewer than my painful days. There’s a small part of me that hopes for a pain free future but the realistic side is 100% aware that that is unlikely. I have found purpose in my pain in the past and will again. I will enjoy what I’ve been given for now.

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Pamela is a nurse practitioner in Canada. This essay originally appeared on the Beautiful Voyager Medium publication. Want to share your own story? Here’s how.