Reni’s Migraine Tips are inspired by playtime with my granddaughter, Reni, who has episodic Migraine without Aura. Children’s entertainment is packed with lessons we can apply to life with Migraine. As we discover little nuggets of Migraine wisdom, Reni and I would like to share them with you. It’s our hope that you’ll be inspired, too.
It’s been awhile since I’ve felt inspired to write one of Reni’s Migraine Tips. That’s mostly because it’s been exactly four months since we had a play date. Moving 4,700 miles away puts a damper on playtime. We still video chat almost every week. Her mailbox isn’t lacking in care packages from Grandma and Grandpa, but we’re all still going through serious withdrawals.
Recently, Reni celebrated her fifth birthday. Last year, Grandpa started the tradition of buying her a very nice professionally-baked and decorated birthday cake. It was a little tricky negotiating the order from Germany, but we got it done. This year’s birthday cake inspired this superhero tip.
Becoming a superhero
Remember when you still believed in magic, fairy tales were true, and you dreamed of growing up to be a superhero. Who did you want to be? I wanted to be Wonder Woman and Reni wants to be a pink Batman. She doesn’t want to be Batman’s sidekick, Batgirl. She wants to be in charge, running the show (in pink, of course). At five years old, it never occured to either of us that this wasn’t a realistic career goal.
Maybe we were right. Maybe we can all be a Migraine superhero.
Like every great superhero, we fight a powerful enemy every day. It’s called Migraine.
Among the men and women living with Migraine, the idea of superpowers is a morbid joke. Our heightened senses often leave us crippled, like Superman exposed to kryptonite. We’ll pick up the scent of perfume faster than a speeding bullet. We can predict the weather better than a meteorologist, too. Perhaps our best superpower is the ability to make time stand still in a vacuum, void of all light, sound, or movement. It would be funny if it didn’t destroy our lives. After all, none of us have Bruce Wayne’s millions or a butler who sees to our every need.
Our arch nemesis
Like every great superhero, we have a mortal enemy. Migraine can knock us out of the sky and drain our energy reserves. Like Thanos, Migraine seeks to destroy everything we love. It attacks with an army so relentless that it will take the entire Migraine universe (past, present, and future) to defeat it. Some of us won’t make it. Others will be wounded in the fight. We can’t quit though. Future generations are depending on us to make the world a safer place for people with Migraine.
Wear the uniform
It may be helpful to think of ice packs, tinted glasses, and medical treatments as part of our superhero uniform. We don’t use these to get attention. They’re part of our Migraine-fighting toolkit. Like any good superhero, we must be prepared for a sneak attack from our mortal enemy at all times. Sometimes, we’re fighting off Migraine ourselves. Other times, we’re defending others from a Migraine onslaught.
Misunderstood by the world
We’re different. We couldn’t conform to society’s standards if we tried. Most of us have spent a lifetime trying, to no avail. Some of us have given up trying to fit in. Understandably, some of us are bitter and angry about the callous treatment we’ve received. Sometimes, people see us as a threat. When asked to lower the lights, ease up on the perfume, or turn down the volume, they may reply, “Why should I have to change my life just because of your headaches?” Ugh. They don’t get it. Migraine isn’t a headache. We can’t just take some Tylenol and move on.
Remember the dream
As young children, we believed that fighting the enemy was an honorable cause. We embraced our uniqueness, asked for what we needed, and threw a fit when we didn’t get it. Over time, we were conditioned to suppress our own needs and desires in order to conform. While this is an essential part of maturing, it’s not so helpful for Migraine. There is room for both accommodation of and empathy for those with Migraine in our society.
The little superhero we once thought we’d become is still inside us. We’ve just been beat up by Migraine so often that we forgot the dream. Dig deep and remember. Each of us is already a Migraine superhero. We fight a powerful enemy every day and never give up. The world need us, even if they don’t realize it or appreciate it yet. Our work will will show them the way.