After having had a definitive diagnosis from a specialist regarding my “condition” I began to feel diminished somehow. Allow me to explain, being that you are aware that I was previously “Abled” meaning, that I appeared and functioned as an able bodied person for years. I was a strong athletic woman who could work hard and play hard. I was a rock climber, cross country runner, and avid outdoorsy type of person. I loved dancing and and had an active life. I had a solid university education, and held down a very demanding job. I thrived on the stress and challenges of a fast paced career
I was visible to the world and to myself (I believed) I went out there and made a difference for the people I worked with. I was in a word, a force. I was fortunate enough to travel when and where I pleased, had my share of good and bad relationships with diverse outcomes. I was fully and completely alive and able to move through the world with very little standing in my way. I had married twice, and with my spouse helped raise a child into adulthood, I was as happy as I could be.
Then one day, I started dropping things, maybe I was overtired? I regularly worked eighty hour weeks in healthcare. I occasionally held down more than one job. I became dizzy for no reason. I ate. I slept. What the hell is wrong? I had a history of violent migraines. I was involved in a car accident when I was young in the days before seat belts were used. I hit the windshield of my drunken father’s car when he tried to stop for something in the road, I hit it with my head, then my shoulder and the rest of my body followed. I had a head injury that would take years to right itself. In the interim, I dealt with severely debilitating migraines. They made me want to die each and every time I had one. They don’t consider migraines a disAbility, do they?
I got patched up, I was told that I was one lucky little girl, and that I should be grateful for the miracles of modern medicine. I was told I had the best* doctors that were leaders in their respective fields. I looked almost normal after a year and a half and many facial surgeries. Skin grafts, new* cheekbone, eye socket reconstruction, dental surgeries and oh yes, those small neurological problems. (not worth mentioning, as I would apparently outgrow the pain in time, so the adults around me said). Back then*western medicine wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today, and they just didn’t listen to children who said they were dizzy and felt ill. Just another one of “those” headaches …women get them you know. I felt myself beginning to disappear.
My early adult were eventful, I completed university and was fortunate enough to have found a decent job in my profession. I had lesbian relationships that ran the gamut that relationships did back then. I worked hard, slept little and led a very visible life. I was doing all the “right things” I had a great job, vacations, friends, partners, played sports,was politically active and always busy. It was a time in my life where I was as alive and active as I’d ever been.
The headaches persisted. I had seen several family doc’s who said my migraines were hormonal, and proceeded to write scripts for some pretty heavy meds, narcotics, muscle relaxants, and even for a brief while, anti convulsants. Others prescribed psychotherapy, believing my pain could not be rational. The pain often became so unbearable that I would stagger into the nearest hospital emergency dept and either scream, cry, or pass out from the searing pain in my head. They would pump me full of narcotics, muscle relaxants, and anti nauseants, allow me to pass out for a few hours, and then let me go home. I was losing pieces of days, and weeks…and of myself.