If you’re a parent and you suffer from migraines or chronic headaches, you already know the special challenges of parenting through severe pain. Busy lives full of school events, sports practices, and errands mean that the days of disappearing into a dark room to sleep off a headache are practically non-existent when tiny beings depend on you for everything.
So, what can you do?
Here are 3 secrets to being an awesome parent, even if you suffer from migraines or chronic headaches:
1. Invest in Yourself
No matter how busy your schedule is, write in 15 minutes of “me time” every day, without exception.
Why? Because you need a minimum of 15 minutes a day alone to be your best self.
My 15 minutes starts the second I wake up in the morning. Whether my daughter is awake or not, I head straight to my journal and write 1 page of affirmations to start my day. Then I spend 10-15 minutes reading book(s) that nourish my soul. This “me time” is non-negotiable. Can’t get your littles to give you 15 minutes? If you’re married, ask your spouse to backfill your parenting position. If your kids are easy persuaded with bribes, give them something to keep them happy for 15 minutes. Build your “me time” into a daily routine. It’s not always easy, but kids and spouses are trainable especially when something happens every day at the same time of day!
2. Reverse-Engineer Your Life
Identify what obstacles are blocking you from living a headache-free life. Is it too many looming deadlines at work? Is it unresolved tension in your marriage? Is it sitting in 2 hours of traffic everyday and feeling stuck? Obstacles are everywhere and they come in all different sizes and shapes. Write down 5 obstacles that contribute to your headaches. Then, reverse-engineer a solution to all 5 or as many as you can. Some may be easier to abolish than others. But you won’t know how hard or how easy it can be to overcome obstacles in your life until you figure out what they are.
3. Claim Your Strengths
What are you “good” at? Are you good at helping others? Cooking? Showing up on time? Going to church every Sunday? Dancing? Take a quick inventory to write down 5 things you do well. Then, think about why you do those things well. Are you good at showing up on time because you plan ahead? Are you good at dancing because you dance like no one else is watching? Embrace your strengths and celebrate them. If you do get a migraine or a horrendous headache, celebrate tiny victories like having enough energy to get out of bed and give your kids a hug after baseball practice. On headache days, the small victories count the most.
Are you interested in learning more about natural approaches to long-term relief from migraines and chronic headaches? Indigo Healing Acupuncture has teamed up with Julie Balderrama Coaching to offer a unique holistic program for anyone suffering from headaches. We help people (who have tried everything) break free from headaches by discovering hidden obstacles to healing. We empower them with knowledge and tools to find long-lasting relief so they can thrive with freedom and joy in their life.
I had surgery two weeks ago… less than 10 people knew about it. It took me out of my holistic clinic and into the depths of modern medicine for a few days of intensive rest and recovery. To be honest, as a doctor of Chinese medicine, I say the phrase “Surgery should be a last resort” to patients every day. But, when I heard the words “It could be cancer” I knew I had to go to the last resort.
Committing to surgery stirred up feelings of frustration (why didn’t acupuncture help?), fear (what if the surgery doesn’t go as planned?) and a sense of abandoning patient-centered holistic medicine for the profit-focused modern medicine machine. Having surgery felt a lot like a betrayal to everything I believe in.
This is what I learned…
• Modern medicine can be life-saving
• Modern medicine doesn’t have all the answers
• Modern medicine has a very limited toolbox (drugs or surgery) to solve health problems
Back in September, my gynecologist felt a mass near my uterus during my annual exam. I had been having severe pain with every menstrual cycle and knew my endometriosis had returned. An ultrasound revealed a complex cyst about the size of an egg and attached to my ovary. We agreed the best course of action was to watch it for a few weeks, clean up my diet (goodbye coffee, hello celery juice!), and check it again in December. The exam in December showed the cyst remained and had a new feature on it, a nodular tumor. My gynecologist told me it could be cancer and offered a CA-125 blood test. However, there was no definitive way to know without surgery. So, we scheduled the surgery, a laparoscopic cystectomy. The whole discussion took less than 10 minutes.
I returned home from that appointment scared and uncertain. Of course, my ultimate fear was losing a battle against cancer and leaving my 4-year-old without a mother. It was ridiculously easy for my mind to jump to that awful conclusion. I consciously refused to buy into that outcome that my mind wanted to play on repeat. After a few hours of acknowledging the fear and reprogramming my mind with positive outcomes, I felt more at peace.
In the days leading up to the surgery, I reprioritized my day to begin with a writing meditation full of “I am” statements such as “I am healthy and pain-free” and trust statements like “The universe conspires to help me.” I also spent 5-10 minutes every morning connecting to a higher power and asking for divine guidance. I revised my will. I treasured tucking my daughter into bed every night.
By the day of my surgery, I felt confident that the surgery would be a success. That morning I reminded my gynecologist to preserve my ovary if she could and to clean up any other endometrial tissue she discovered. She agreed and within minutes the anesthesiologist was there ready to knock me out. When I woke up in recovery about 90 minutes later, I was in a lot of pain and the nurse sent fentanyl through my IV. As someone who relies on herbal medicine, having fentanyl surge through my veins was quite a sensation. My pain level decreased from 8 to 1 within minutes, but I still had no idea if the surgery was a success. Once I saw my husband, my first question was, “Do I still have all my organs?” He said yes and a few hours later, I was released in a fentanyl haze of relief and gratitude.
Fast forward two weeks to today, when I had my post-operative appointment. I found out the cause of the pain was endometriosis, but not at all what I expected. The surgery revealed I had a benign ovarian endometrioma (often called a chocolate cyst) full of endometrial fluid. Compared to 5 years before when I had stage IV endometriosis scattered across my bowels, peritoneum, fallopian tubes and uterus, my body had effectively encapsulated the endometriosis into a single cyst. Miraculously, there were no signs of endometriosis on any other organs or structures. I thought to myself, “Wow, the acupuncture and herbs did help!”
Modern medicine can be life-saving and anyone facing the possibility of a life-threatening illness should consult a trusted MD for a modern diagnosis and treatment plan. However, for many chronic illnesses and conditions, modern medicine offers a very limited toolbox consisting of drugs or surgery. Now that I’ve had a surgical tune-up, I’ll continue with acupuncture treatments two times a week and a daily regimen of Chinese herbs to control the endometriosis. I know the risk of recurrence is high, but now that I’ve witnessed how intelligent my body was to isolate the disease, I have faith that I won’t be on an operating table again anytime soon.
I want to tell you a secret. It’s a well-guarded secret. An important secret. And it can change your life.
Before I reveal the secret, let me ask…
Do you suffer from daily headaches? Migraines? Other pain that just won’t go away?
Have you ever thought about what pain is?
Is there a message in that pain?
The answer is YES, there is a strong message hidden in that headache or migraine or stiff neck or backache or whatever is causing YOU pain.
Pain is a messenger. Pain is the only way your physical body can communicate directly with your mind. Pain is your body’s way to yell “STOP! PAY ATTENTION! LISTEN TO ME!”
The big secret is... Pain exists so your body can heal itself. Your body is engineered to heal itself. You can see it in action everytime you get a papercut!
So, are you receptive to your body’s calls for attention? Or is your pain buried under medications designed to keep it quiet and hidden?
If you’re ready to hear your body’s message and banish your daily headaches, migraines or other chronic pain, contact us to schedule a consultation at 512-686-0777 or book online by clicking the blue button below.
Dr. Michelle Wendt, L.Ac., DACM
Dr. Michelle Wendt, L.Ac., DACM practices Oriental & Chinese Medicine in Hawaii and Texas.