First Migraine Episode

Last week, I had a migraine for the first time.

It felt like a vice grip was squeezing the back of my head.  The pain was intense.  I actually screamed and tears were flowing down my face.  I could barley walk, because the slightest movement intensified the pain.  Also, lights and sounds made the pain worse.

As a side note:  I don’t tend to react to pain by screaming.  Last year, I fell and fractured two ribs.  I grumbled a bit when it happened, but there were no tears or screams.  The  migraine pain was exponentially worse than fracturing ribs.

I went to the ER twice that day.  During the first visit, the nurse checked my blood pressure and it was normal.  The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers and pain medication.  I was also given three injections, an anti-inflammatory, Benadryl, and a muscle relaxer.

Twelve hours later, I had another migraine.  The second one was even more painful than the first one.

Mom and Gwen took me to the hospital.  When they checked my blood pressure it was 178/81.  Mom asked the nurse about it, because I don’t have a history of high blood pressure.  The nurse explained that extreme pain can result in elevated blood pressure.

I was given intravenous medications to knock out the migraine and sent home with strict instructions to rest.

I never truly understood the devastation caused by migraines.

To migraine suffers, you have my empathy and respect.  You have to be a strong person to live with migraines.

I also want to say thanks to my family.  They have been a great help.  Mom and Gwen made sure I was able to rest by taking over my household chores.  They also spent hours with me at the ER.  Without them, I am sure my recovery would have taken a lot longer.

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The Black Hole of Death

Today is Aaron’s birthday.  It should be spent having fun, singing, and laughing.  However, Aaron died three years ago.  There will be no signing or laughing today.

When Aaron died, I lost my brother, Gwen lost her father, and Mom lost her son.  His death created a black hole in our family.  This black hole creates a suction that drags feelings of joy and happiness into it’s abyss.  It only leaves feelings of despair and grief.

Our family will never be the same without Aaron.  His death will impact all of us for the rest of our lives.  I just wish we could somehow banish the black hole from our mist.  That we could learn to laugh and sing again.

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Take Up Your Cross

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When reading this verse, it’s easy for us to overlook the significance of what Jesus said to his disciples.  Today a cross is a religious symbol that is often used as a decoration or as jewelry.

However, to the disciples a cross was a symbol of death, torture, pain, suffering, fear, and humiliation.  A cross was used to execute people.  It resulted in a slow and gruesome death.

Jesus is making an extremely difficult request for all those who would follow him.  To complete this task, a person would need perseverance and dedication.

Buddhism

Siddhartha Gautama (the founder of Buddhism) was born a prince and lived a life sheltered from all suffering.  One day, he left his palace home and encountered the four signs:  old age, pain, death, and a holy man.

He decided to renounce his life of luxury and sought answers to life’s problems through suffering.  He spent years in self-deprivation, discipline, and isolation.  However, he still had no answers.

Siddhartha Gautama spent three days sitting under a fig tree.  He came to the realization that the path of moderation is the best way.  He also learned the four noble truths and achieved enlightenment.  From then on, he was known as Buddha or the Enlightened One.

While reading about Buddhism, a few questions came to mind that I think would be interesting to discuss.

Since Buddhism does not have a supreme being to worship, should it still be considered a religion?  Would you call it an atheistic religion?  Would it be better to describe Buddhism as a life philosophy?

The Four Noble Truths:

  1. Dukkha – all life is suffering
  2. Samudaya – suffering is caused by craving or desire
  3. Nirodha – to eliminate suffering, it is necessary to eliminate craving or desire
  4. Manga – to eliminate craving or desire, follow the eight fold path.

The Eight Fold Path:

  1. Right Thought
  2. Right Understanding
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Concentration
  8. Right Contemplation

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(source:  Know it All by Susan Aldridge, Elizabeth King Humphrey, Julie Whitaker)

When a Sibling Dies Young

Young is a relative term.  For this post, I am talking about a sibling that dies and one or both of the parents is still living.

Losing a sibling is painful, especially if you are close in age.  When Aaron was born I was almost three, so I had no memories of a world without my brother.  I was in shock and I didn’t know how to deal with my grief.

However, I cannot even fathom how my mother must have felt.  She just lost her son.  People say that losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a person.

It’s rare in modern America for a parent to be faced with burying a child, so when family and friends come to offer support they flock to the parent.  The sibling may go unnoticed in all the commotion.

When I was dealing with my brother’s death, I didn’t want to burden my mother by telling her I was suffering.  She had enough to deal with, so I had to be strong.  If I tried to talk to someone else, I felt selfish.  I wanted to complain about how bad it feels to lose my brother, but my mother lost her son.

When a sibling dies young, dealing with your grief can be complicated.  It’s important to find someone that will listen to what you are feeling and realize you are not selfish for wanting to talk about your pain.

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My brother, Aaron

 

Forgiving is Difficult

According to the Oxford Dictionary:  forgive means to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense or mistake.”

What if the offense caused a lifetime of pain?  What if the trauma was so horrible you are left suffering with PTSD and depression for the rest of your life?  Do you still forgive the offender?

I spent most of my life refusing to forgive a pedophile that tormented me and my brother.  I wanted revenge.  I used to daydream about finding this man, so I could hurt him as much as he hurt me.  To be honest, I even thought about killing him from time to time.

Even though my mind was constantly dwelling on what happened to us, I refused to talk about it.  Two years ago, I was finally able to tell my story to a therapist.  I told the therapist everything that happened to us and was able to deal with the emotions that were festering (like a nasty infection) all those years.

I still think about that sadistic SOB that abused us, and I just can’t bring myself to say I forgive him.  He caused so much pain that our lives would forever be affected by his actions.  However, I am willing to let go of my anger (which is basically the same thing, but it’s easier to say).  I am ready to move on with my life.