On Pain and Joy

This blog is possibly not the place for this post, but I don’t keep any other blog active right now, and it’s going to relate in part to my library work, so here goes.

Over the last few years, the migraine headaches I’ve had periodically all of my adult life have really kicked it up several notches.  Generally, this isn’t a huge deal–if I can take medicine quickly enough and get into a dark room and close my eyes, it’s nothing more than an hour or two of inconvenience.  But sometimes, increasingly so, it means missing days of work. Missing my kid’s events. Missing gatherings with friends (which are rare for my introvert self to begin with).

And it means pain. I have a super high pain tolerance in general. When I got my appendix out, the doctor was shocked that I wasn’t in more pain–I had only gone to the doctor at all because it was on the right side and my instincts told me to get it checked out. When I had the worst case of strep throat that anyone in the clinic had ever seen, I felt great!  But these migraines do not mess around.  I can’t describe the pain, but I can say that it makes me feel desperate for something to do to make it go away–I feel like I’d do just about anything. My husband sometimes squeezes my head with his hands, and the pressure makes the pain go away for a few seconds, and what a gift that is.  Last night, with a pain level at around 8/10, I kept shifting my body position, irrationally thinking that maybe I’d hit on something that would lead to being pain free.

And then, around 11:00, it just lifted.  Not sure why–I’d taken my second dose of imitrex hours before, with no discernable effect.  I made myself lie as still as possible, as if this were in fact the result of having hit upon some magical combination of head placement on pillow and where the covers hit my chest and precisely how the cat was curled up against my side.  And I thought about how happy I am, and about how I needed to write this blog post.

Because I AM happy, or content, or at peace.  However you want to put it. I don’t think I’m happy because pain makes me appreciate the absence of pain when it comes, but I do think that’s part of it. I think I’m happy because more and more, I feel like I’m living in the present, and you can’t really ask for a much better present than the one I live in most days.  If you haven’t been to my library, let me describe to you the most important part of it: kids who love.  Love to read; love to laugh; love to make stuff; love to ask questions; love to tell you what they think; love to goof off and test your limits but with good hearts; love to live.  No, they don’t love every minute–they get mad and they sulk and they get bored, and that’s okay.  I don’t mean they are perfect, and I don’t only enjoy them when they are easy to be around.  I kind of appreciate an openly grumpy middle schooler because authenticity is better than a fake smile in my book.

What I wanted to write about, or just note for myself, is just the idea that the present moment is everything.  When I’m in pain, that means trying to breathe through it and not fall into believing it will last forever.  When I can tell myself that all I have to do is handle it for this second, I can do it; I run into trouble when I start wondering how many hours it’s going to last.  When I’m at school or laughing with my daughter or a friend, it’s easy to just be in the moment.  When I’m reflecting, like right now, I guess it means just feeling the warmth of all the love and good in my life.  There is so much to be thankful for, and right this moment, I feel it deeply.  And this moment is all there is.



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