Parenting, Writing and Loving with Chronic Pain

headachegirlThis past Sunday morning I awoke with a clear mind. My head only hurt a little and I started thinking. More than two years ago I began writing a book. And then I stopped. I was missing direction. But on this clear morning, I had it. The ideas were flowing and I could finally see the big picture of what the book would be about, specifically, how I could structure it, what, exactly it would cover. I would even laugh out loud from time to time thinking about it. I could feel how funny it would be.

And then my head pain escalated. I was no longer able to think clearly, take notes or write down anymore ideas. I crashed creatively. I crashed emotionally.

Now it’s Thursday, and I haven’t had a break from the pain this week. It’s the last week of summer, before two of my three girls head back to school. The weather is perfect. I had planned a trip to the zoo, the beach and was determined to have fun with them. That didn’t happen either. They are understanding, but I am not. They are still enjoying themselves, but I feel guilty.

I think guilt is something I  have not given a moments thought to in the past 4 years of dealing with NDPH. I have it. I’m toting it around in a bag on my back. I just never noticed how it was weighing me down. I feel responsible on some levels, for my own suffering and for the effect it has had on my parenting, my writing and my life in general. I certainly didn’t ask for this, but I often think I must have done something to cause it-or could do something to stop it – maybe if I ran more or ate only raw vegetables or stopped drinking coffee…these are all legitimate things I could do – and have tried- to make myself feel better. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough? Maybe the fact that I have successfully avoided the doctor for two years (not a real victory) because I was sure there was nothing that could be done. For many with NDPH, nothing really can be done. So I am not that far off here. 

I think it is time for me to accept that this just happened. For whatever reason, I have NDPH. Maybe it’s crappy Karma coming back to bite me. Maybe it’s because I was exposed to something toxic and I didn’t turn into super-spider like hero. But it happened. And I am here now, dealing with the mediocrity of my life because of it.

I am not the mother I was before NDPH. This is what upsets me the most.

So maybe I am not an outstanding mom in the way that I don’t do super fun things with my girls. And maybe they don’t have enough time in the great outdoors because the sun and humidity drive me crazy. Maybe they watch too much TV and don’t do enough crafty little things that make my head spin, in addition to the normal pain. But I love them. They know that. At the end of the day I think they know that I am doing my best. The relationship we have, the connection I strive to maintian, is more important than all the things we could be doing.

So, am I responsible for my NDPH? No. It isn’t my fault. And if it is, well, I am choosing to forgive myself. It is my responsibility to not give up hope, to keep seeking a cure and to stay optimistic. It is my responsibility to be sure that I tell my girls I love them everyday and show them, even though I have a headache, that I can still be a great mom to them.

And sometimes, some days, they will see the old me, the happy, fun mom who likes to dance around the kitchen with them and bake cookies in every shape and size and swing high on the swing and play with dolls and read them stories. On some days, they will have her.

Sometimes I will have myself back too. I will get back to working on the book on my low pain days, when they come.

That’s just the way things go. But sometimes, they go the other way too

Spoken by Alabama in (one of my favorite movies)True Romance.

It’s time for things to go the other way.


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