Yesterday, I wrote about how I almost died following a migraine attack. The few weeks that followed after my ER visits were awful.
I still don’t know what triggered my the epic migraine I blogged about yesterday. Drinks? I had a few beers out with friends the night before my first ER visit. Hunger/overexercising? I had worked out on an empty stomach that morning. Caffeine? I was drinking a cup of regular coffee every morning at that point in time. Stress? There is no all-consuming stress like the stress of being a litigation attorney. Whatever it was, I knew I needed to make some major changes to my life. I never wanted to be in that dangerous, scary, weak state again.
It took me a week to recover to a level that I could function in normal society (walking down the steps, going outside). It took me at least another week before I felt like myself. I was completely emaciated, my face was sunken in, and I had dark circles under my eyes and “track marks” from the IV attempts all over both arms.
My mom stayed with me for an entire week at my apartment. I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t feed myself, and I couldn’t think clearly. I looked and felt awful. I had another migraine four days after leaving the hospital, and my neurologist said I was not permitted to take any more medication. The only things I could do were exercise (HA! I couldn’t leave my bed!) and drink water. Luckily, it went away about 24 hours later. Having another migraine that week was physically and emotionally draining.
When I left the hospital the second time, I knew I could never go back to the law firm again, at least not at the level I had previously been working. Putting aside the fact that I hated law school and I hated my job, I refused to spend my short time on this planet being in such a toxic environment. It’s not that I can’t handle stress. I thrive on hard work. I challenged myself in college and law school. But dealing with that level of stress is no way to live. I knew I needed to put my health first.
I gave it one last shot and returned to work for a full day the following Monday. I was embarrassed to show my face since I looked like a person who was near death. The attorneys were either so self-absorbed or so stressed that nobody asked what was going on; someone even assumed I was on vacation and asked how it was! I explained what happened to one of the attorneys who was supposed to be my mentor. After a response of, “Oh, I didn’t know,” he dropped an assignment on my desk: a brief I had to write that week and present in court a few days later. I didn’t have the energy to walk to the courthouse let alone argue in front of the toughest judge in our county for the first time ever!
The energy I put forth merely typing at my computer completely wore me out and I left after a half day of work. The next day, I returned and again had to leave after only a half day. I was unable to really get anything done, and I decided to go on short term disability leave.
Before my leave was over, I resigned from my job. That was not my initial intention, but I realized I had to take charge of my life. I needed time to evaluate what it was I loved (because law was DEFINITELY not it!) and how I could put my health first going forward.
Because of what I’ve written about in the past two posts, I’ve decided to devote most of my time to raising awareness about migraine and headache disorders. The physical and mental health of episodic and chronic pain sufferers is something I can relate to and want to learn more about. I never want anyone to have to experience what I went through.
How do you raise awareness of your pain disorder? Have you found a career that you can pursue in spite of your health?