Brain breaks

I have spent the past three days battling a terrible migraine. It keeps coming and going and just when I think the worst of it is over, the  pain comes shooting back, blinding me with such force that I am convinced I am dying.

I remember when I first explained my headaches to a new neurologist, “Describe the pain? On a scale of 1 to 10, what does it feel like? Sharp? Stabbing? Pins and needles?”  I told him that it felt like I was beat over the head with a bat, and that the bat didn’t stop. It just kept pulsing and slamming my brain, over and over and over again. It felt like my brain was running out of room in my skull and it was going to explode. The pressure was blinding and everything bothered my vision and hearing- lights were too bright and the slightest noise was like a marching band in my ear.  He watched me intently while I spoke and then replied, “Wow! That’s very disturbing.” And prescribed me some medication and an MRI.  I had the MRI and it showed nothing, and the headaches continued to come and go, with zero proof that they existed.

I never went back to that doctor. I felt that if he had treated other PCS and TBI patients he would’ve been familiar with my description. Instead, I felt alienated and foreign, and just another piece of paper on his prescription pad.   I’ve tried various medications, Reiki, acupuncture, trigger point therapy, meditation, all of which helps to some degree, but nothing that gets rid of it entirely. What gets rid of it entirely is rest.

Rest doesn’t mean that I need to lay around and sleep all of the time, it just means that I need to stop the overstimulation, loud noises, distractions. Rest allows my brain to heal. I need to calm my mind and stop trying to process everything at full speed. I need to take a brain break, however long it’s necessary, to reboot and recharge. Just like an electronic device whose battery is depleted, my brain acts the same way.

It is possible with three kids to get my rest, because I generally build my “brain breaks” into our routine. Since I feel my best in the morning, we get out of the house and I push through the migraine because I know my break will come in the afternoon. When my son goes down for his nap around 1, I get my brain break. This is when I lay down, meditate, do yoga and recharge.  Even just for a few minutes, it makes a difference. It takes my level 10 headache to a level 5, and I am able to function the rest of the day.  If I am feeling the same way tomorrow I’ll restrict my activities and continue to stay at home.

Our weekend was spent away with our extended family, which included 12 little ones, little sleep and a lot of noise. I know that’s why my brain needs a break and I’ll respect those boundaries. I am discouraged and frustrated that this is my normal but it is what it is.  Our weekend of memories was worth it .

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