Since last year, I dreamed of what it would be like to have no 24/7 headache. I pictured the moment it stopped and saw myself crying tears of joy. I imagined telling all of my friends and family as soon as it happened, then being magically transported to some verdant hillside to raise my hands to the sky and sing “The Sound of Music”.
My headache broke for the first time about a month ago. That’s right, an entire month ago. I don’t know exactly when it happened. I don’t even know the day. I don’t know where I was, or what I was doing. I didn’t cry tears of joy. In fact, I didn’t even notice the first time it broke, or the second, or the third. The only reason I realized it happened at all was my self talk changed over time. Before, it was either “my headache is bad” or “my headache isn’t too bad”. But eventually, I occasionally heard myself thinking, “my headache came back”. And if something comes back, that means it was gone. It’s a strange thing, I only noticed the absence of pain by it returning to me again, at least at first. Over time, I noticed the pain free moments more consciously. They were plain-old, awesomely normal moments.
So, there you have it, I COMPLETELY MISSED the ending of my eight-month-long headache, I didn’t tell many people about it, and I still have headaches and migraines to boot. It feels like I missed the nice, clean ending to this blog-saga that you’ve traveled with me. I was so looking forward to that “breaking” story that I now cannot write. But chronic pain isn’t that simple. It doesn’t just end; it hangs on for dear life and you have to detach it, one gnarled finger at a time. That means my 24/7 headache coming to an end isn’t the end of this road, nor the end of this blog.
But it is a big step, and a bigger transformation than I could have imagined (even without me singing loudly in the hills). It’s the transformation that comes from hope. I don’t mean the kind of hope that expresses want or desire (“Oh, I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow”). I mean the kind of hope that is based on knowing something will change.
I’ve had lots of migraines this year, almost every flavor. And each time I stopped having an acute attack, I’d still have a headache. Every. Single. Time. More pain was all I had to look forward to. It’s no wonder I spent most of my time with migraines in bed, in the dark. I felt I had no choice but to rest, no other way to save up enough physical and emotional stamina for the headache that would persist even when the migraine ended. No choices, no options.
But today, I have another migraine. It started yesterday. I chose to sleep for a while, I chose to write and walk and sit outside, I chose to use an ice pack and not push myself. And I chose to be happy, and to enjoy what I could, because I know a day without pain is coming again soon. Perhaps even tomorrow.
These are the choices I make when I hold on to hope, knowing I can make it back to zero pain. And the certainty of even brighter days is enough to keep me walking.