"Mommy, it HURTS."
Those are words that strike fear in every mom. What hurts, honey? Where does it hurt? What can I do to make it better?
A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old son experienced a blistering headache and needed to lie down. As every mom knows, you run through a mental checklist: what did he eat? Spent too much time out in the sun? Maybe he just needs to drink more water or sip some juice.
Or, if you're a migraine sufferer, like me, you wonder (with a mixture of panic and guilt), if he's starting to develop symptoms of migraine headaches.
For several hours, my son lay in bed and complained about an intense throbbing in his head as I comforted him the best I could. Knowing from personal experience that migraines trigger extreme sensitivity to light and sound, I closed the blinds, placed a compress on his head, shooed away our family, and quietly soothed him, hoping to give him some relief.
As his headache passed and he began to feel better, my worry started to disappear, too.
As many of you know, I began suffering from migraines as a child and my headaches were so debilitating, I would temporarily lose my ability to see or speak, and remain in bed for several days. When I was younger, that meant a lot of missed school days and countless doctor's appointments. Now, as a busy working mom of two, it means meetings are rescheduled, the kids' carpools and afterschool practices rest on Dad, and emails and calls from friends go unanswered. I've said before that migraines steal your days, leaving you in a dark, quiet room until it leaves, while the rest of the world moves forward.
But the toughest part for me as a migraine sufferer was -- and still is -- the accompanying guilt with migraine headaches. I can't go to the park today. Maybe tomorrow. Often, it seemed like the days following a migraine were spent making up for lost time. Now, my guilt extended to whether or not my kids would suffer from the same condition, since it's reported that migraine headaches may be hereditary.
I've had to find many ways to cope with migraines and if you've followed my blog, you know I manage it through a combination of getting adequate sleep and exercise, eating right, relaxation rituals and consulting with my doctor. And, part of learning to live with my condition is letting go of the stress and anxiety around it.
Once my son's headache was gone, we talked about how he felt and I shared some of my tips for dealing with the blinding pain and nausea, and reminding him to take it easy and get to bed earlier. (As every parent of an active son knows, easier said than done!)
My son's headache -- just a few weeks before June -- coincided with Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, observed by The National Headache Foundation and the headache disorders community. The timing of his headache reminds me that letting go of the guilt around migraines is an ongoing process.
Do you suffer from headaches or migraines, or do you have kids who do? How do you let go of the worry? I would love to hear your tips for managing headaches so your family can enjoy a happy, guilt-free and fun-filled summer!
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