If there’s one thing that really frustrates me as a teacher and parent, it’s the unpredictability of migraine headaches. I can have the best laid plans, and a headache of this nature can really mess them up! I’ve suffered from these paralyzing headaches since I was a teen, and usually battle a few a month. If I can catch the attack at the very start, when I feel it coming on, my medication works great. If I wake up in the morning with a migraine already in progress, my day is over before it has begun. I am totally useless – unable to function through the intense pain, and the cloudiness of mind that the dilated artery in the back of my head produces. That is what happened to me this morning. Luckily with medication and several hours of sleep in a darkened room, I am much, much better this evening.
If there is any silver lining in being a migraine sufferer, it is in having ample opportunity to participate in redemptive suffering. Everytime I have great pain, like today, I am able, as a Catholic, to “offer it up” for conversion of sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for my family, etc. Somehow, being able to use the pain as a prayer makes it seem not so useless. It keeps me from pleading, “Why me?” Strangely, it helps me to relax a bit as well, because I know that Jesus is using my suffering for a greater good.
Being a migraine sufferer has given me a greater empathy for those who suffer – especially for those who have pain that cannot be readily relieved. What a tremendous cross that must be to bear. Whenever we suffer, and begin to give in to self-pity, we need look no further than the cross. Is there anyone who can understand suffering better than Christ?
Next time you have a headache, toothache, backache, or even an activity that is a real chore – “a pain in the neck” to do, don’t forget to offer it up. Allow God to bring something good out of something us humans like to avoid at almost any cost – PAIN!