By Steven (Guest Blogger) –
For most people, mornings start off relatively the same each day. Other than the occasional late night, people sleep between four to eight hours depending on their individual lifestyle. Variations in sleep time only really make a difference in their energy levels for the start of the day.
Typically, for the most part by mid-day, all cylinders are firing and everything is normal. While there are many lines that divide us, both as people or individuals, there is a line in the sand that separates people who suffer from chronic migraine, and those who do not.
I myself suffer from episodic migraine. At one point, I was on the verge of becoming chronic. I honestly could not tell you what changed, but I currently average less than four bad migraine days per month.
I am also the primary caregiver to my wife who suffers from chronic migraine, averaging far more days per month in pain than not. Before I met my wife, I was never a person who really paid attention to things like consistent sleep schedules, or I suppose rather, the severity of the impact of inconsistent sleep schedules. My own sleep patterns would change depending on any number of varying factors. The only consequence I ever had to deal was simply being tired the following day.
Over the years, I have learned how badly it affects my wife, so I try to be accommodating in that respect. I do not always accomplish the consistency. It’s not so much that I do it on purpose, we just have such a tight schedule during the work week, that when I have time off, I just want more time to spend with her. I suppose we have both adapted to this in our own ways, but we also both continue to try to improve whenever we can.
The first time I truly saw the impact that late nights had on my wife happened a few years before we were married. We rented a few movies, bought some take out for dinner, and stayed up until well after midnight watching them. I believe we were up until around three in the morning. The effects came when we had to get up early that following morning to try to be first in line at a tire shop to get one of her tires replaced. I knew something was “off” when we woke up to our alarm. She had been in pain the night before, but it was manageable enough that she was all too happy to be cuddling on the couch watching our shows.
She was slow to rise which was to be expected. Her face however, told a completely different story. There was no smile or brightness to her. Her eyebrows were furled and tightly clenched. It was obvious that every step of getting dressed to leave was forced and uncomfortable. She was in enough pain that even though she knew she needed to eat, she was too nauseated to consider food (which only made it worse). We drove in relative silence to the tire shop, arriving a few minutes before they opened. My wife had already tried taking one of her abortive medications in a pill form that did not help, and I had given her a Toradal injection. Unfortunately, the migraine was already too strong for either of the medicines to break the cycle.
We were alone in the waiting room when she broke down into tears. It broke my heart as she began to apologize to me for how badly she felt. She felt like she was being a burden on me when nothing could have been further from the truth. The reality was that I felt this particular bad migraine was actually my fault. I was the one that suggested a movie night and staying up late to begin with. Regardless of fault or blame, it was one of the hardest things I had ever experienced up to that point because, for the first time, I found myself in a position where there was nothing I could do to fix it.
We finished up at the tire shop and returned home in silence. We would spend the remainder of the three day weekend cuddling in the dark, trying to cover as many of the windows as possible, leaving the television on with the volume turned down really low just to have some type of background noise. It took the rest of the weekend for her to recover from the migraine.
Lessons Learned: Both my wife and I have since learned to try to improve how we schedule things. I try to make sure that if we are going to be up late, we will have the ability to sleep in as late as we need or want. My wife has learned that when she hits that point, it is okay to tell me or to simply cuddle up and go to sleep right there on the couch with me until whatever I am watching is over.
(Note: Steven is the husband of our regular blogger, Amanda.)