Hygeian Hope

By Wanda

Hope, as an intransitive verb, is defined as to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true, and as a transitive verb as a desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment or to expect with confidence according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. A simpler description of hope is a dream or a longing. Hope is a verb. Verbs are action words. We cant just wish, we have to believe it’s possible for this THING to happen. We have to INVEST in hope; we must invest time, invest knowledge, invest EMOTION in hope. Hope is believing in something we can’t see; hope is that wee small spark of light in our darkest hour.

It’s so easy to lose hope with an invisible disease like migraine and any of the many co-morbid diseases like lupus or fibromyalgia or Ehlers-Danlos. You can’t show someone a migraine like you can a cut, there are no splints or casts to show off, there isn’t even a rash. Yes, yes it is all in our head (or body), but it is real and migraines are debilitating. We look to the medical community for hope, we read the latest articles, we try the newest treatments and we HOPE something will work, just as we hope people understand what we are going through.

Living life as a migraineur, we rely on hope to keep us going; but, hope is a fragile thing. How many times have you tried a new medication with the hope it will help? How many medical professionals have you seen–from your family doctor to a neurologist to a migraine specialist–with the hope someone somewhere has the answer? We are begging for answers about a disease that presents in a multitude of ways, based in the organ we know least about. We can look at a healthy brain scan and a migraineur’s, and they often look the exact same. There isn’t any blood work to be analyzed. We have to trust and HOPE the doctors get all our symptoms straight and have some kind of answer.

Recently we’ve seen new preventatives released. Aimovig belongs to a class of drugs known as selective calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antagonists. It comes in a preloaded injectable pin and is available in two doses. Ajovy and Emgality are also newly approved CGRP-blocking medications. This class of medication acts on a “completely new mechanism than previous treatments. CGRP is a protein fragment that can start and even prolong migraine episodes. Blocking it has been shown to reduce migraine frequency”, according to Dr. Howie Zheng. There’s another new medication in the final stages of testing which adds even more hope for us.

So, again, what has hope to do with a chronic debilitating condition?

EVERYTHING! It’s hope that brings us together as a community.

It’s hope that causes us to share our experiences with others.

It’s hope that makes me write!

The cherished desire to find answers, the passion to hunt for alternative treatments that may help, going to see doctors with the expectation of obtaining relief, and the confidence we share with one another in this family we call Migraineurs. Hope is the dream of a cure, the longing that others might benefit in some way from our suffering. Hope is, after all, the simple belief things will get better for Migraineurs; that answers for hereditary and traumatic brain injury induced migraines will come about sooner rather than later.

So, how do you keep the hope alive in the dark and silence of a migraine cocoon on your bed or in your favorite chair? You remember there are days without migraines. Personally, sharing with y’all and the support I get from the gals in Migraine Mantras gives me hope. Hearing stories from other people who share the same pain brings hope. If you are having trouble keeping hope alive, feed the flame: find a migraine group on facebook, read RELIABLE articles online (migraine.com, the Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins, and NIH are all great resources), and be honest with your doctor about the toll migraines could be having on your emotions and mental well-being. This last point is so important. Our battle isn’t just with the physical disease, it’s also with what it does to our mind and soul. If you are struggling, be honest with your doctor.

We’ve defined hope. We all easily know that chronic migraines are a trial on us–mind, body, and soul–and we have to accept this knowledge, accept the disappointments, accept the very finite understanding of migraines and the brain. What we DO NOT have to do is give in to the despair, to the discouragement, to the pessimism of life with this daemon in our brain. We can keep positive reminders and quotes on sticky notes with our migraine kit. We can talk to people with migraines, encouraging them and receiving encouragement from them. We can keep a thankfulness or gratitude list or journal. We can set small, reasonable goals for migraine days instead of getting upset with what we cannot do during an attack. We can even look for the positives having migraines might have brought into our loves like the friends we’ve made in support groups, the different treatments we can share, how much more we simply enjoy non-migraine days.

Hope is always there. In the deepest, darkest pit of emotion–hope is there. In the valley of pain and suffering–hope is there. It’s that simple spark in you that says “I CAN do this. I DO know what helps. I AM learning more.”

Hope, dear ones is my gift to your this holiday season. May 2019 abound with new levels of hope for your and for all Migraineurs.

Header Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/tealight-candle-on-human-palms-783200/

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