One of my fellow brain tumor fighters tweeted this yesterday:
‘With a brain tumor any headache, item forgotten, stumble, slurred word or vision issue can cause fear.’
I have an MRI next week and the anxiety has begun. I would have been anxious as it was, but I’ve also spent 3 days this week with migraines. I feel like I’ve been forgetting things more than usual. I’ve struggled to find some of my words. Basically, there are all kinds of reasons for anxiety to set in – the question is whether it’s warranted. Brain tumor survivors (if we’re alive, we’re survivors in my mind – no pun intended) are constantly paranoid about anything out of the ordinary. But maybe we’re just looking harder for the signs that the other shoe is about to drop.
The evidence that points to paranoia and anxiety not being warranted:
– I’ve been sleeping like crap. The itchy dog with a new diet wakes up in the middle of the night scratching or needing to go outside. I’m a light sleeper (having babies will do that to you) so I’m awake at the first jingle of his collar or the slightest whine of request.
– My migraines arrived just in time for a visit with my parents (sorry Mom & Dad). My biggest trigger is hormones, so there’s nothing to avoid in my daily diet or activities that can prevent it. All I can do is take the drugs and ride it out, praying it doesn’t last too long. Well, it did last too long…but when it’s a migraine, 3 minutes is too long – 3 days is a new level of hell.
– Allergies kicked in and I’ve been very congested and headachy. My face hurts, my ears hurt and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it except use my neti pot and slather on some Vick’s Vaporub. Sleeping with my head elevated doesn’t help my first problem, but maybe it helps prevent a sinus headache? It feels like I’m fighting against myself when all I need to do is lay down to sleep and yet laying down causes more pain and less sleep.
– I’m still recovering from sleeping on the ground and a crappy mattress a few weeks ago and my back is slowly getting itself back into order. For anyone who’s experienced a pelvis and sacrum out of alignment, you’ll know the pain that comes with every step. Add a rib out of alignment and the pain will drive you to tears. And there’s no magic trick to make that shit go away.
With the sleep deprivation, the migraines, and the constant pain it’s not surprising that I’m a little more forgetful or I struggle to find a word or two more often than other weeks. Right?
I’ve got a pretty high pain tolerance, but head or back pain is all consuming, you can’t escape it. It’s pain that changes your personality. It’s relentless pain that drives you to distraction. I don’t know how people living with chronic pain do it. While 3 days feels like a lifetime, I know my migraines will go away. I know my back pain will go away. I know I will get back to a normal sleeping pattern without being woken up by an invisible arrow being shot through my ribs (I’m still working on the itchy, farty dog.) It may not feel like it will end, but when I blow away some of the fog created by the pain, I can remind myself it won’t last forever. For those people suffering extreme chronic pain, it’s got to wear them down, physically and mentally.
So, I’ll count my blessings, breathe, and remain positive. My MRI will be clear. We will find a diet that minimizes the dog’s itchiness and gas. My hormones will level out and my migraine will retreat (when does menopause arrive?) My pelvis and sacrum will cooperate and stay aligned as best as they know how. My allergies will pass and we’ll breeze through cold and flu season unscathed.
I would, however, like to request a button that indicates whether my severe headache is due to migraine, sinus congestion, muscle tension or a brain tumor recurrence. If someone could get right on that, I’d appreciate it.