Thursday, January 17, 2013

Physical Suffering

I am a wimp when it comes to physical suffering. I am clueless how to tie my suffering to God's suffering, in offering it up, so to speak. Ok, technically and mentally, I get it. I understand it and in theory I know how to do it. In reality? Well, in the throes of a migraine attack, I am not thinking of offering it up. I cannot even think of the simplest of prayers, "Jesus!" I am thinking, "When will this pain end?!" Actually, that's inaccurate. In reality, I am NOT thinking. I am one wall of intense pain. So, how do I overcome this? I do not know. Perhaps you do, dear readers. Are you a victim of physical suffering? Have you any insight? I think that it may have more to do with my prayer life while coherent and pain-free than anything, and I have felt a nudge to wear something physical, something I can hold onto, to remember, very much how a picture or a statue turns my thoughts to prayer and heaven.

I am coming off a pretty nasty migraine. I am a migraine sufferer. My first hit when I was 19, and the memory still makes me shake. Thankfully I have had long pain-free moments. I have also had nonstop migraines. I have found a list of triggers and yet many times am completely baffled when one pops up. I struggle to keep my life in balance to reduce the number of attacks. Yet, nothing prepared me for this last round. 

It was the oddest experience. I woke Sunday morning feeling utterly awful, and an excruciating pain in my left calf. Knowing how I felt, I quickly took myself to Mass, without the kids, so that I did not miss it by trying to go to a later one. While there, I started to feel a light sensation, a tingling/numbing along my left side, all the while my calf in pain. From that moment until the headache finally hit (Monday late night into Tuesday), I experienced this numbness and a huge sense of fatigue along my left side, especially in my shoulder/arm. I had a hard time standing for too long, walking straight, going up the stairs, holding onto things, and even a few moments of finding it hard to breathe (when the numbness hit my rib cage). Then the headache hit and I was out.

I finally went to the doctor today, and was told I had just experienced my first hemaplegic migraine. Hema what? Don't google it... too scary. Apparently it's a migraine whose aura mimics a stroke. Thankfully I did not experience full-on paralysis as some do, just the strange sensations along my entire left side. To make this particular migraine worse, I was also hit with an occipital migraine, which is just when some muscles in the neck/head get all tight and start to spasm, leading to a one-sided blinding headache. It was a double whammy. 

Thankfully I feel better, and most of my left-sided strength is returning. But what a crazy experience. I really did not know what to make of it. The doctor says I have one pass with that type of migraine, but should it happen again, we have to talk some serious medication. For now, I have a muscle relaxer / caffeine / aspirin pill for the occipital and a triptan for the regular old classic migraine. I am not sure what to do should I experience a hemaplegic one again. I did not think to ask. That's the trouble seeing a doctor when you're half out of it, even on the tail end of a migraine.

And that's probably why this post seems all jumbly and disorganized so if you read through all that, whew, you are one nice reader. I really am interested in suggestions though because the pain really does sweep away all my good intentions. If I have to have this pain, then I sure wouldn't mind putting it to good use!


  1. Oh, Nicole!! While reading this, I was thinking "stroke". Thank God it wasn't? Right? Or was it? Do you have a chance of having a real stroke? Scary, scary. I will pray for you.

    I have chronic pain, over the years with different things, usually, I get used to it and it just becomes part of my life, my feet, I suffer from diabetic nerve stuff, after 33 years of type one diabetes, it just happens (but I do notice when I drink Diet Coke, it gets worse--weird, huh?) anyway, I've had a few other things, and I just try to say "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" many times, because during times like that, it's too hard to concentrate on actual prayer. (your pain is much worse!! Your poor thing)

    I've also heard that if you do a good morning offering and pray to the Holy Spirit, you are good for the day, you've done it. And you can rest in your prayers.

    1. Jamie Jo, it was not a stroke. The headache just mimics one. However, it can increase my chances of a stroke a whole bunch. Plus, I have to watch what medications I take. For instance, I have a triptan which works for classic migraines but will not work should I end up having more hemaplegic ones since it constricts the blood vessels further and can lead to stroke. The doctor also said, if left untreated, that my brain would eventually look like it had a bunch of mini strokes so I imagine that would leave some kind of damage.

      My dad also suffers neuropathy (type 2). I think I would be a cranky pants with day in/day out pain. I know I am when I get back to back migraines. Often, believe it or not, it's not the headache part that is the worst, but the before/after effects.

      I like the idea of a good morning offering. Perhaps I could put a bit in there should I have one today kind of thing. Good idea. Thank you.

  2. Nicole...I am speechless! What can anyone say who has not a clue about such kind of pain? that was one scary experience indeed. I do just what Jamie Jo does and just repeat the name of Jesus over and over with a 'Help me!' sprinkled in between...I've also squeezed rosary beads as tightly as I can. I can surely understand why it would be virtually impossible to offer this kind of pain up at the time you are going through it.

    I wonder if some type of meditation would help you. I have said Novenas to the Infant of Prague and Our Lady of Lourdes for healing on various occasions. If you like I'll hunt up the ones I said for you. I would say while you are well, storm heaven with your prayers and offer in advance anything that may happen for His glory.

    Meanwhile, I am praying for you Nicole. This must be such a burden to carry when you have such young ones. Perhaps there is a prayer group in your parish who could pray with you...some of them have discernment as well as healing. Praying...

    1. Thanks Lisa Maria. The novenas sound good. The headaches are hardest when I have so many like I have recently. It's hard to predict and unfortunately one part of my aura is huge irrational irritability. Poor husband. Poor kids. I can hear myself when I have one coming on but I feel so powerless to control my emotions/response. I really do feel like a different person.

      Honestly, this last one worried me but I actually wasn't too scared. Except for thinking, now what is wrong with me? Now that I know what happened and could happen, well, I am a little more scared now so I am trying to put it out of mind except in prayer. In a way too, I am glad it's part of my migraines and not something new that we have to tackle. ;)

      As far as my parish, I still feel pretty new but am slowly meeting people.

      Thank you for your prayers.

  3. oh my. I'm praying for you, Nicole. God bless you and your family as you travel this path.


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