07 September 2014

Ferreting Out Those Hidden Blessings

Four or five times a year I have a period of many days with a particularly bad migraine that just won't go away. Wednesday through Saturday of this week made one such period.

People with chronic illness of any sort -- fibromyalgia, depression, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia -- experiences these particularly difficult times as part of having the disease. And we know how difficult it is to get through them. Having been through one, I'd like to write today about finding the (admittedly really hard to see) blessings or positive things present in the awful.

Part of the inspiration for this post came from here, a blog I read often: Migrainista. She is blogging about chronic migraine and fibromyalgia, both "invisible" illnesses, but I think all of us can relate to her list about what it's like to handle the realities of a chronic illness.

If we want to not just survive but learn from and grow within our chronic illness, it helps to remember that there are good things about our lives. I'm not saying we sit up and smile and hop out of bed, ignoring the pain we're in. This is not one of those stiff-upper-lip things, nor is it about what we hear all too often, that we're letting the illness get us down, or if we just [fill in the blank] we will feel better.

This is about having the courage or sheer doggedness to remember the good. Here's my list of blessings from the past four days:

1. My husband kept me well supplies with watermelon chunks and sympathy and humor.

2. I got a letter from a friend, who stays on the look-out for new info on migraines, with an article that told about a possible new treatment.

3. My little dog was especially cuddly and quiet.

4. I developed a new passion: a British television show called, "Sherlock." I don't watch TV or video when I'm in pain, I listen to shows like Seinfeld and The Office because they're verbal and funny. Sherlock, not funny but suspenseful, has great story lines, inventive plots, intelligent writing and, best of all, really good music and sound editing. 

 Today I'm blogging, doing wash, baking biscotti, and making myself rest between activities. I'm glad the pain is over, and I'm grateful for small blessings.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


  1. I, too, had a bad week with migraine, and I am beginning to wonder if it is related to the weather - during our severe heat and humidity (I am in Massachusetts), things were rough - but after the thunderstorms came through on Saturday night - all I can think of is Emily Dickinson's line, "After Pain a formal feeling comes".... one of the things that I like about blaming it on the weather is that it takes responsibility off my shoulders! Just a thought....

  2. Dear Anonymous: I live in DC, so doubt we had the same weather pattern BUT I think you're right that weather influences our migraine patterns. Several years ago my husband noticed it before I did: when it stormed or threatened to storm, I had a migraine. Since then I've often thought that other weather triggers exist, like humidity, the change of seasons, and changeable weather even though the storm doesn't happen. Also, I do hope you can get away from thinking the migraines are your fault. Yes, there may be things you can do to mitigate and even avoid some of them. There are food, stress and emotion triggers that pretty clearly cause people migraines. But the triggers vary widely from person to person, and don't even always act the same for the individual. Additionally, so many -- like weather, flashing lights, bright sunlight, smells, etc -- are beyond our control. The fact is that medical science has little understanding of migraines, although there has lately been more interest in and funding for migraine studies. So do what you can to avoid your triggers while also understanding that for many of us the migraines keep coming no matter what we do. By the way, I love your referral to the Dickinson line. Thanks for adding that. -- Carol