***This just in from the National Weather Service*** Hurricane Megrim is closing in on the shores of the Mississippi River with winds of 150 miles per hour resulting in massive destruction along the Mississippi Valley. We had hoped to take you live to ours news anchor, Tim Witt, who was standing by at the Memphis Harbor. Unfortunately, we have been unable to contact Tim who we last saw hanging on to a light pole as large pieces of debris from nearby homes were being swept into the river, and Tim was being buffeted by twenty foot waves. Please join us in prayers for the safety of Tim and his crew.
Yes, I know that theoretically there are no hurricanes on the Mississippi River, or in the Memphis area; however, I have certainly been through my share of hurricanes, as I am sure many of you have regardless of where you live. The winds of migraine have buffeted us and threatened to carry us out to sea along with the debris. Frequently, that debris that we longingly watch as it is being washed away consists of our jobs, our financial security, our independence, friendships, and many other things we hold dear. And like Tim Witt, we continue to hold onto the light pole hoping that our grip is strong enough to save us through this storm.
However, the bottom line is that we will never have a grip strong enough to keep us safe in Hurricane Megrim on our own. Just like a regular hurricane, Hurricane Megrim comes with more than just rain - the accompanying symptoms of the storm are staggering and frequently overwhelming.
What is your refuge in the storm? Or do you, like Tim Witt, hang on by the tips of your fingers hoping and praying that you will once again survive another storm without being washed out to sea? I know many of us frequently feel like we are that sole person in the midst of the storm hanging precariously to whatever pole is close by; however, I urge you to develop your own hurricane evacuation plan so that you might find refuge in the storm.
As the winds begin to grow and the water swells, what are your first instincts? For some, it is to climb under the covers and cry "not again, please not again, I just can't take this anymore." We succumb to Hurricane Megrim and just pray that we come out alive.
However, we all have at hand an evacuation route that allows us to get through the storm with the least amount of damage. We cannot escape the storm, but we can survive it. My evacuation plan includes a number of safe houses along the way. These safe houses are reached by phone or internet where I can call a friend who will ride out the storm with me and share their own strength to help me get through it. Some of these are friends from my pre-chronic migraine days but some are also friends that I have developed because of my migraines - people I have met through My Migraine Connection, Migraine.com, Facebook and other networking opportunities to get to know other migraineurs. These people are frequently my lifelines, my anchors, in the storm.
I turn to these people when I need someone to hold onto hope for me. I turn to them when I need to know that I am not alone in the storm. I turn to them to learn from their experiences with their own storms. We share survival stories and gather strength from one another. When I am unable to think rationally, they provide normalcy for me. They speak words of truth to me, reminding me of other times when I have successfully made it through the storm. When all I can do is sit and cry in despair, they sit and listen without condemnation. They don't offer easy fixes or trite platitudes, but they do remind me of the resources that are available to me and help me to find hope and laughter in the midst of the storm. These safe houses on my evacuation route are a place where I can be me - I can be vulnerable and know that I will not emerge hurt because of my willingness to risk the truth.
While my evacuation route includes a number of other stops - medication, biofeedback, prayer, deep breathing, ice packs, there is nothing like reaching out to someone who is also in the midst of the storm and who is surviving with grace, hope and dignity. If you are alone in Hurricane Megrim, I encourage you to reach out to others who are in the storm. I've mentioned a couple of ways to find these fellow journeyers, but if you need help finding safe houses for your evacuation plan, please let me know. I am happy to share the abundant resources that have been shared with me.
Once several years ago, I read a book about migraines written by patient advocate and fellow migraineur extraordinaire, Teri Robert. I contacted Teri because her book exuded hope and potential to me and as I read I knew she understood my storm because she lived through her own storms. She was speaking not from theory but from the heart. She helped me to connect with other migraineurs who have since become dear friends and safe houses in the storm.
We are all in this together. We can share our experiences, our strength and our hope and be the refuge to one another that we so desperately need. You do not have to stand in the midst of Hurricane Megrim holding onto the pole on the harbor by yourself. You too can have safe houses along a proven evacuation plan.