Living with Headaches

Lately, my life has been one long headache.

I’m not talking about the figurative “headaches” of stress or inconveniences but actual, physiological headaches. My migraines began at about age ten, and I normally had them about once a year. Now I seem to have a “new normal” (to borrow a phrase from my friend Beth). In the past several months I’ve had several migraines.

I thought I had migraine management down, like a standard fire-drill procedure or a recipe that always works. As soon as I felt one coming on, I’d quickly drink two mugs of coffee (caffeine), eat two eggs (protein), head down to the cool, dark basement, and lie down. I would usually fall asleep, and two to four hours later—voila!—the migraine was over.

Last month, the standard formula did not work. I had a migraine for more than ten hours. It was enough to worry and even scare me.

A few days later we had dinner guests whose daughter also suffered from migraines. They had been tracking, researching, and trying new things (like dietary changes). The current strategy: no dairy or gluten. “She recently had a migraine that lasted thirty-two days,” the mother explained.

I thought, what’s my ten hours compared to her thirty-two days? What would I do—what kind of Christ-follower would I be—if my migraines escalated to that point?

Last week I was sick for two days with something else. I minimized my tasks, doing only what I considered highest priority. After putting lunch on the table, I went to bed. A few hours later I put dinner on the table, then went to bed. Under these circumstances I cannot teach Bible studies, teach home school, make and deliver a meal, or exercise. Migraines keep me from singing, attending worship services, and (certainly!) playing drums.

Those two days were not “normal life.” Being sick more often has pushed me into wondering, and I did wonder. What if my health pattern changed, and sick days outnumbered the healthy days? What should be my response? I’m still pondering that and asking the Lord for insight. So far I know I would want to be one for whom the joy of the Lord is obviously my strength. I would want to retain and even grow godly character traits like peace, love, and selflessness. I would have to learn now to praise God in ongoing pain. I would have to give up serving Him in the ways that I’m used to.

For the most part, I don’t know. Yet I do know that, whatever the circumstance, His purposes and desires for me still stand. Though I don’t have the answers yet, I will continue to:

“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you shall find rest for your souls.”

(Jeremiah 6:16)

(This week Bonnie Gray asks, “What new things are you learning in your relationship with Jesus?” Visit Bonnie on Thursday (click on the Faith Barista badge below) to read more posts addressing her question.)