I realized last night that I have spent the past year and a half hoping that my brain would totally recover from the Great Migraine Disaster of 2010. Last night I also realized…and not unhappily…that it won’t. I don’t understand why, but even though I have made GREAT progress toward recovery, it’s amazing how much my mother and I have had in common with that experience…and not long before my migraine disaster of course, she had a minor head injury and we had a lot of similar fallout, cognitively speaking. Recovering from a head injury is not a quick process, generally. I didn’t technically have a “head injury” but my brain or my thinking processes seem to have been permanently affected in some way. Maybe I DID have some kind of injury to some part of my brain…medical science hasn’t fully defined the migraine experience after all. It’s a hazy territory…fitting I suppose.
Last night I realized my brain may never be the same. I might not ever 100% recover, in fact in a moment, I was willing to accept that it simply won’t. It’s going to take me a while to really fully and deeply accept that…but somehow just allowing myself to have that realization had a slightly relieving effect…because in the face of that kind of epiphany, you are free to move forward, whatever forward may mean, and for a long time now I have needed to move forward.
On May 11th, the May before last, I was a 34-year-old woman looking forward to completing a graduate degree within the month. I had found my handsome Mr. Rollins, begun to acclimate to the idea of parenting three children, coordinated a move, and was in the process of planning a grand circus of a wedding for 300 guests. In the weeks previous, just a few times, for a few seconds, I’d had the odd sensation that the scene in front of me moved…but it wasn’t a big deal. On May 12th, as I sat at my desk, I nearly passed out, I became viciously disoriented to the space and furnishings around me. I felt a spring in my head squeezing and resisting. I called for my boss, I crawled to the floor. I thought I was dying. I made him take me to the hospital because I thought I was having a stroke. Doctors told me I was crazy and sent me home. It happened again…and then it was happening 20-30 times a day. I was crushed by fatigue, and each time the squeezing would begin in my head, thoughts were slapped out of my head, my thinking process died in its tracks, words evaporated and I would stare, unable to communicate. I was conscious, but I was trapped in my head. Friends would visit or call and an hour later I had no recollection of the visit or call.
The neurologists at MGH treated me with dignity, took me seriously, understood I was having a true neurological crisis, and with a little investigating, and a little luck, while they never gave me an official diagnosis, they did find a medication that brought most of me back to myself.
I worry that I will always be dependent on medication.
I worry that it might happen again – and occasionally, it does. A upped dose brings me back.
I see now, that if I don’t have a conversation with myself about it, I will be trapped in hoping, instead of actively living.
I am probably 95% “back to normal” but what does that mean? I’m see now that this definition of “normal” is no longer useful to me. No longer a fair comparison.
Am I less than I was? For this past year and a half, I think I thought so. Bits of me still believe it I think. But now I see I just need to move forward. Because whether I am or am not is not the issue…whether I am alive and moving on is.
It’s so easy to focus on those pieces that aren’t working, when those pieces are a part of your mind…a part of what you have always perceived to define you as you. But maybe something totally new can fill in the picture…