Reflections on a Year’s Worth of Changes

As we begin preparing for our annual trip to Cape May, New Jersey this week, I can’t help but think about how things were for me last year at this time. Writing a blog, first of all, would have been totally out of the question. One month away from one of the most drastic surgeries a woman with migraine can consider – total hysterectomy – I was taking approximately 4 Vicodin per day just to stay out of the Emergency Room for 3 – 4 weeks at a time. I was going through Imitrex, as well, like water; far more than my insurance-allotted 18 per month (I had some wonderful Imitrex elves popping out of the woodwork to supplement my arsenal from time to time). I missed days and days and days of work, so many that I ran out of sick time before my surgery recuperation even though I had just switched to full time and my benefits are more than generous. At home, I was always in bed. All I could do was tell my older daughter “The surgery will make me better.” Not knowing, at all, if that was true.

We weren’t sure I would be able to go on vacation with my family. We researched where the closest hospital would be – we’d been there the day before getting married, but that’s another story – and printed out a map. I packed my well-worn letter from Dr. H describing my situation and which medicines I need in an emergency situation. I got extra, and then even more extra, medication. And we all crossed our fingers, not planning to do many of the fun things we usually do in Cape May. Just getting me there seemed like a miracle. And I planned to go.

But needless to say I couldn’t help get the house ready for our departure (and also our beloved cat needed major surgery – awesome timing); couldn’t pack much or do much for the girls. I spent all my time at home in bed, in pain, trying to stay out of the hospital. I was such a familiar sight to those doctors and nurses; I can’t imagine what they thought of me, which is why I had my precious letter from Dr. H. Some of them were kind, some were cruel. But with rare exceptions I always got the treatment I needed. I was depressed, I missed my friends and my children and my normal life.

Continuing to take the 4 Vicodin a day, I got through vacation. I spent little time on the beach, or in direct sunlight, and slept a lot. At least I could smell the sea air through the open third floor windows.

Earlier this week and last weekend were a little rough, but today I feel better than I have in years. We are going to be in Cape May one week from right now, and I am the one making lists, packing, planning, preparing. When Dr. “Manhands” got me on the Vivelle Dot patch, a twice weekly change, earlier this year, that was a turning point. And every month since then I’ve done a little better. Better enough to shift to a natural preventative which I would never have even taken seriously in the past due to the severity of my symptoms. I started taking that Migraine Support Formula I mentioned in my last blog a few days ago, and it does make me a little sleepy, so I have to figure out the best way to split up the 6 capsules per day. Today, I tried 2 in the morning and that seemed to work. And today is the first day in years, the first day I can remember, when I haven’t had to take ANYTHING for pain. Not Excedrin, not Anacin or Advil. No Hyland’s Migraine belladonna tablets. No capsicum nose spray. No Imitrex. (I needed all those things yesterday.) No Percocet, no Ultracet, no donated-to-the-cause Vicodin. Usually I have to take an OTC med when I wake up, or at least by 11 am. Not today.

It is 8:30 pm, and counting. The tide is coming in.

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