Over the last seven years or so, I have changed in many ways. I don't believe that I am the same happy-go-lucky person that I used to be. I have a completely different perspective on life. I think a lot of that changed when my dad got sick and then again when my dad passed away. I think it also changed slowly as my migraines progressively got worse over time, and slowly as doctor after doctor tried treatment after treatment to no avail.
As I look back to my younger, carefree self, I think about how I was always the "glass-half-full" kind of person. I was full of hope; I always saw the positive side to every situation, and I had hope in everything. Everything was going to be alright. Everything would work out for the best. Everything would be okay.
I remember the time in my life I changed. At the diagnosis of my dad's illness, Glioblastoma Stage IV (brain tumor) stretching across the entire back of his brain, I still held on to the hope that by some miracle he would get better. I believed that he would respond to treatment. I believed that even though my 6'2" dad, who went from 220 pounds to 120 poumds in a matter of months would miraculously stand up and walk again. I believed that his memory would come back, his eye sight would come back, and he would quit telling us that he had to take a trip to Texas, but he could never come back. That was who I was then.
My dad and mom on their wedding day.
I remember the day when I lost hope. I don't know what changed, but I just knew. I had this feeling inside. I knew my dad wasn't going to make it. It hit me like a ton of bricks, but I knew. That is when I changed.
After my dad passed away, I was shell shocked for a long time. You never imagine something like that can happen to someone you love. My dad was only 51 years old. He had only lived half of his life. He had lived most of his life with multiple sclerosis so gracefully; it was extremely hard to see him live and die from this horrific disease.
My heart ached. There was a hole there that took a long time to heal. Today, the hurt is not as bad. I don't feel the pain as raw or as deeply, but I do still get sad thinking about how much I wish he were here with me. I am infinitely in a better place than I was a few years ago, but I will always miss my dad. He is still with me, but it's hard not to have him here physically sharing life's milestones that he should not be missing.
I have also struggled with my migraines since I was about 15 or 16 years old. Since that time in my life, they have only gotten worse, they have literally taken over a lot of my life. After going to different doctors, taking so many medications that I can't remember the names of them all, and again losing hope in the process, I can again say that I have lost that immediately positive outlook that I have always had.
I used to, without a second thought, always turn a negative day around with a positive spin. Had a bad day? Well, at least I get to go home and cook dinner with Bjorn. Poured coffee down my shirt? Well, at least I get to see my students today. They make me happy (plus they'll tell me it doesn't look that bad!)
This summer hasn't been tough for me, but it's been just a summer--nothing great and nothing too horrible. Just there, a filler really. I feel like I'm in limbo. I'm at the end of my rope with my migraine treatments. This summer I tried Botox for my migraines, and now I'm just playing the waiting game. My doctor wants me to wait three treatments to see if I get the full effects from it (9 months). That's a long time. I get it, but some days I want to scream, "Can we hurry it up already!"
I also get sad some days that this is kind of my last serious option besides more medication with more side effects that make me miserable. What if this doesn't work? Am I doomed to have 17 migraines a month forever? How could I take care of a child with that many headaches? I don't do anything fun anymore. I feel miserable most days. I don't know how long I can do this; someone needs to come up with something!
This summer I've found myself feeling sad more than often. I just have realized I'm in uncharted territory. I don't know what's going to happen--good or bad. I'm just waiting. Waiting sucks. Thinking too much about it makes me sad. I had a good week of being hopeful, but that didn't last long. I am trying to find the strength to stay positive, but it's hard when you've had years of pain and treatments that don't work.
So this is what I've decided:
It's okay to not be okay. This is a journey. Thus is life. It has ups and downs. And let me tell you, my life the last few years has been a roller coaster. I can deal with it, but I don't have to be the same person who I was when I was twenty-four, twenty-one, or fifteen. I'm not. I like the happy side of me; right now I've got a lot going on. Uncertainty is hard to deal with, and that's okay. I'm giving myself permission to have okay and not okay days. Who says I can't? I'm going to take each day as it comes. If I'm anxious and dreading getting 31 needles stuck into my head, who cares? That's okay. If I'm missing my dad and want to have a good cry, that's okay too! I'm going to deal with my emotions as they come, but I'm not going to beat myself up about feeling down. Simply put: it's okay.