For some reason my husband likes to post Instagram photos with overly cryptic messages about my health. If you follow him you’ll remember the,
“prayers for my wife, she is having routine surgery”
Or most recently, the whole thing about his “wife’s health” where she had
“horrible potential scenarios but was dealt the least frightening diagnosis”
Good God man. It was high blood pressure. High blood pressure! Ok, I did have my gallbladder removed and enough ER trips to fund a small new wing of the hospital, but at the end of the day how can I complain when other people are suffering so much worse?
And since then my inbox, texts, and Facebook messages were flooded with
“Are you ok?” “Do you have cancer?”
So, perhaps I should just put it all out there.
And to be honest, I’ve kinda needed to do this. Nothing turns that FML feeling into a “God is good” conclusion like blogging about it. My therapy of sorts.
So here it is…
There is a song. By the Weepies, I think.
“Woke up and wished that I was dead with an aching in my head. I lay motionless in bed. I thought of you and where you’d gone and let the world spin madly on.”
This song is on repeat in my mind lately. Those lyrics. And while ‘wishing I was dead may be a little dramatic’ it’s sadly had moments of being kind of true. I know. Terrible.
I’ve been suffering from migraines. Something relatively new to me.
And these headaches. These pounding, debilitating aches. They stop me in my tracks. In my bed. And I lay there motionless. And while the ‘you’ on the mind of whoever wrote that Weepies song may have been a lost love or something different altogether, I find myself thinking of my sister.
You, dear Janie. I think of you.
She has seemingly forever been the poster child for migraines. She spent years in a dark room. With my parents by her side.
And in my youth, I remember being frustrated with her. With where our family was. With how everything revolved around these migraines. With the sheer number of hospitals and doctors and specialist that couldn’t “fix” her. The medicines. The ice. The anxiety for when that next headache would arrive. The depression for a life not lived like everyone else.
And then — slowly but surely — medicines, therapies, prayers (and God knows what), started working. She will most likely always be a migraine sufferer. But a life being well lived. A life completely worth living. Her world most definitely spins ‘madly on’.
So it had been years since I had thought of her as any sort of victim. As anyone who has been anything other than a wild and crazy girl living her dreams to the fullest.
But then, migraines introduced themselves into my life this last year. They must have known I was settling into 3 kids and needed a new challenge (insert the thickest tone of sarcasm possible). These were the kind that blind you. That leave you either completely still or writhing in pain. The kind that take your life and reduce it to a dark room with your mom or husband by your side. And I think of little Janie and regret every frustration or resentment I’d ever felt for her. I’m just sad. And I’m scared.
And those two words have driven my last year. Sad and scared. And what I could have never anticipated is that these migraines — these attacks on the brain — start to change you. The fear of the next one. The guilt for what you are missing. For the slack that everyone is picking up for you. The depression for a life so different than you want it.
And sometimes, that depression can disguise itself in other forms. In anxieties. In control. In a feeling of needing change. In a lack of patience. In a heartbreak so deep that it stops wanting to beat.
And living is quickly replaced with surviving.
And as I tried the many different medicines and physical therapies, I discovered that I have high blood pressure that may or may not be related to the migraines (still figuring this out). And not just high. Like, stoke-level high. The kind of numbers that look like the results of an overtime basketball game. And as my doctor would warn me, it’s the kind of high blood pressure that will kill you if left alone. The kind of high blood pressure that a simple
“oops I forget my new heart medication”
will most definitely result in a,
“oops I am no longer alive”.
And let me tell you: there is no anxiety like mortality anxiety.
Nothing compares. The gamut of emotions that take you from prayers on bended knees to wondering if you are just talking to yourself in a world that ends with you being dirt in the ground instead of welcomed into heaven by a Lord and Savior.
Now listen, don’t stop reading just because you don’t believe. I totally get it. I really do. “Oh boy, here comes the Christian stuff!”. We’re the crazy ones. The believers. So bare with me while I talk crazy.
It was then — just then. When I had been reduced to nothing, to believing nothing, that I ended up right back there on bended knees.
I was carrying my cross. And I remembered the one who carried that cross first.
And feeling “Him” there more than ever.
I found myself with my head on the steering wheel. I had just left my little family at the swimming pool to go home and get my migraine meds because, as much as I wanted to push through, these migraines break through and derail your life.
And as I was paralyzed by disappointment, failure, and sheer depression. With my head lowered. My eyes closed. I found myself praying. To a God I had almost given up on. And maybe this time I was just broken enough. Just desperate enough. That I no longer felt like I was talking to myself.
“Lord, You win. I am broken. I’m beat. And I’m ready to give up. I have nothing left to fight with. Nothing left to fight for. Take this away. Please oh please, Lord. Take my cross.”
And I sat there in silence.
My broken prayer lingering in my head. Lingering in the universe. And just then, my heart started to change. And so did my prayer. My prayer became a whisper. Instead of praying a statement of despair I began to pray a plea for guidance.
“Or Lord, I guess what I need is, more fight. Help me to be constantly reminded of what I am fighting for”
And just as the words left my lips. I looked up. And there. Right in front of me. Was my husband. And three soaking wet kids. With smiles and giggles and screams of laughter. And I made eye contact with this man of mine. And he winked at me and waved as he approached the car. And it’s them. It’s the blessings I already have that I’d rather spin ‘madly on’ then not at all.
Okay Lord, I hear you. Loud and Clear.