Chronic Pain and The Erosion of Self: Being Mum

I always knew that my condition would have an impact on my role as a mum. When I fell pregnant with my daughter 5 years ago, I had already lived with Chronic Migraine for a very long time. 

  

I was still managing to teach and have just enough of a social life to meet my future husband. Compared to my current situation, those were blessed days indeed. That’s not to say they were easy days; stepping out of my classroom for a minute to inject Sumatriptan into my thigh then continuing to teach was a common occurrence. I lived with constant anxiety about keeping up with my work load & holding on to my job whilst trying to cope with migraines at least half of the month…and of course I fought the unending battle of trying to hide how much pain I was in and how often.

It’s probably a good thing that I couldn’t see ahead to how my condition would progress. By the time my daughter was 2 years old, my Chronic Migraine had morphed into Daily Migraine, later joined by Fibromyalgia. Pain-free hours no longer exist for me; low pain hours are the best I can hope for and there aren’t nearly enough of them.

Obviously the fact that I’m incapacitated so much of the time by pain, photophobia, nausea, vomiting etc means that I can’t do all the things other mums can. All I can do is prioritise time with my daughter every day. Every meal I share with her, every  cartoon we watch, every picture we draw together is a little victory. 

I constantly try to find a balance between hiding the worst of my symptoms from her (if the pain is reaching the throwing-up stage, she has to be properly distracted away from our bedroom) and not closing off access so completely that she doesn’t lay eyes on me for days on end. Even when I’ve had to go into the dark and lie down, my daughter can wander in for a chat or cuddle whenever she feels like it as long as I’m below an 8 on my painscale- that’s the point at which I’m no longer able to hide it well enough. She’s nosey when it comes to my meds so I decided a while back to keep talking them through with her so that some of the mystery is taken out of it. The less exciting they are, the less likely she is to go in search of them on her own is my reasoning.

There are lessons that she is already learning. She knows that some people have illnesses and that not everybody is able to do the same things. She knows that I can’t always join her in activities regardless of how much we’d both like it. She has learnt that illness and/or disability doesn’t equate to disinterest – if she comes home from school & I’m lying in the dark, her first stop is our bedroom so she can tell me what her day has been like. 

My condition hasn’t always been as severe as it is now. I know that the migraine will never go away completely but I hope to get back to the more typically Chronic level as opposed to Daily. While I work on this I just have to keep reminding myself that my daughter is fine – she has a wonderful dad and grandparents who give her love and attention when I’m out of action. She is happy and confident, loving and hilarious and a bit naughty. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with guilt about not being the mother I’d like to be but that isn’t helpful to either of us. I give my daughter every ‘functional’ hour possible and remind her every day how much she is loved; until I can make some progress with my condition, I can only hope that it’s enough. 

Kindra x

Check out this video from my YouTube channel:  Dark Thoughts & Lessons Learnt: Parenting & Chronic Pain

Tweet/follow me here.

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