Politics aside -- I being liberal of the bleeding-heart-on-the-sleeve kind -- I quite naturally have a lot of empathy for Michele Bachman. Living with migraine pain gives us common ground. Again, politics aside -- she being conservative of the I-talk-alot-about-compassion-because-otherwise-it's-assumed-I-have-none variety -- I also feel some admiration for her. Campaigning for nomination for president is rigorous in the extreme, but to do it with WITH migraines? The mind boggles.
Of course, there is very little information from her about the migraines, their frequency and severity, what meds she takes, how she manages pain, when the alleged hospitalizations occurred, etc. I'm no political pundit, but I agree with Judith Warner's opinion in the July 21 NY Times: leaving the information to speculation isn't helping.
Finally, I do not assume that my experience with migraines, which caused me to leave my well-loved work at Miriam's House in 2009 and continues to render me unable to work, gives me any right to judge Ms. Bachman. Migraine is an idiosyncratic disease, difficult to treat partly due to the varied ways in which it manifests itself in different people. And it is not very well researched as of now.
All that being said, and given that I live a greatly circumscribed life due to painful and chronic migraines, I cannot imagine how Ms. Backman could even begin to conduct a nomination campaign if her migraines are, as alleged by The Daily Caller, "frequent" and "incapacitating." If she is having a level of pain and frequency that still allows her to run for the Republican nomination, then until I hear otherwise, I have to think that her migraines are wimpy, unremarkable things that are fairly easily managed by medication.
That makes me envy her.
All that being said, and given that I forced myself to work a good five years with ever-worsening migraines because I loved my job and could not imagine giving it up, I know the toll that ignored migraine episodes take upon health, vigor, mental acuity, memory, and patience. I know the level of self-delusion required to maintain the fiction that one is well and functioning at top capacity. If Ms. Bachman is deluding herself in this way and trying to hide her difficulties from others as well, I have to hope that someone tells her no one else is fooled, and that it will catch up with her in a big way some day.
That makes me pity her.
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Carol D. Marsh
- With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90 days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.