|Chronic Pain Teaches|
By: Molly Brackett
Going to college wasn’t a question. The question was where I was going to go? After months of researching & traveling to campuses to calculate the perfect campus, I found one. Stepping foot on Drake University was a breath of fresh air.
The first few weeks of pharmacy school were great. Classes were going to be challenging but equally rewarding. The picture of my future had been painted – six years of grueling studying & perhaps compromises, but a successful & financially rewarding career lay ahead.
Four weeks into new classes, new professors, a new dorm, and new friends, I had a newfound chronic condition: migraines. While I was telling myself college & a collegiate degree in pharmacy is what I wanted, my body was telling me otherwise. There was an internal struggle lighting a fire. The fire would burn, smolder, smoke, and burn heavier. It was a constant cycle. I lived with a migraine everyday of my freshman year pending the level of intensity on a pain scale of 1-10. Every day I had a pain scale of less than 4 was a good day. At one point, my parents were afraid of phone calls with the area code 515 because they were fearful of who was on the other end – the ER doc or me.
Being a student within the pharmacy program, I had access to documents about the plethora of medications I was using. I also got professionals’ opinions beyond the walls of a pharmacy or hospital. At times this was useful, but it also lit my fire inside too. I began to notice a trend. When I was studying pharmacy protocol or related material, my migraines would intensify. Additionally, I was monitoring my diet, exercise, fluid intake, sleep, medications, & learning biofeedback as a methodology for prevention.
Cycle after cycle of migraines, missing class, & social functions, I began to retreat inside. I decided if I couldn’t be apart of campus life, I was going to be apart of who I was becoming. I started looking for messages internally that were becoming physical symptoms. Was it possible that my emotional & spiritual well-being weren’t aligned with my extrinsic picture? Is there a correlation to your emotional, spiritual, mental, & physical well-being? Were they really interconnected? And, did I really want a career in pharmaceutical healing?
As I began to discover what I internally needed, my migraines began to subside. My emotional and spiritual well-being was interconnected to my physical state of health. Looking back on those years, I had always been interested in the intersection of east meets west. That’s when I realized the two could be harmonious within my body. By changing my major, diet, prescription medications, exercise, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and structural integration, I was able to achieve a level of health that has been sustainable for the past ten years: healthy & migraine free.
Although my radio frequency inside was different from the outside, I was finally in-tune. The level of pain endured for a number of years was excruciating, but my pain taught me how to be happy, authentic, & whole through listening to my body, not just my head.
Written: Spring 2009