Roller Coaster Ride

The Importance of Seeing and Understanding Our Support System

If you live with a chronic health condition, you know how challenging and frustrating it can be to navigate life. For example, how many times have you had to say “no” to your children’s request to play outside during an attack? How about canceling coffee or tea time with friends or even denying a client of your service because you have no idea how you would feel the day of the presentation? These things can play havoc on one’s attitude and create bitterness. Sometimes we sulk and keep to ourselves, thinking no one understands what we go through. We sometimes get angry at the people around us, like our support system, forgetting that they silently share the frustration and challenges we experience.

Our support systems, such as our spouse, children, and parents, also live with our symptoms, frustrations, and daily challenges. Though they may not feel the excruciating physical pain or the debilitating symptoms we get, they, too, can get exasperated and overwhelmed whenever we feel unwell. I find this to be true, especially when they feel powerless in attempting to ease our pain. Sometimes, it is natural for us to focus on our pain and limitations; however, we sometimes forget that we are not alone in our battles. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Years ago, I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Nonkinesigenic Dyskinesia or PNKD – a subtype of Dystonia. The first few times I’ve experienced my neurologist’s dystonic storm, I was constantly overwhelmed and infuriated. Parts of my body would twist, my muscles would spasm, and I would end up crying in pain. The random occurrence of my symptoms made it very challenging for me physically and mentally. In addition, I was confused why it was happening to me. My family would try to help me feel better, but my condition had a mind of its own, and at first, there was nothing my family could do to help but be there for me until my symptoms subsided.

On top of the unbearing symptoms of Dystonia, I also live with a rare form of migraine called Complex/Hemiplegic Migraine, which is also debilitating. The unpredictability of these two conditions made it very challenging to navigate life. As a result, my days are full of ups and downs, like living on a roller coaster which can test anyone’s patience. Just like being on a rollercoaster ride, one moment you’re having fun, trying to reach the clouds above you, then suddenly you drop, feeling sick to your stomach. Living with a chronic health condition is the same; one day, you feel great, full of energy, able to plan, spend time with family, and simply go to work. However, the next day, you’re stuck in bed, unable to move, in pain, missing appointments, disappointing clients and family.

There were days where I could not help but feel sorry for myself, but my family was always ready to encourage me, yet there were days where my frustrations would get directed at them. I would find myself snapping at them, saying things like, “You will never understand how I feel. How could you, you don’t feel my pain?!” 

I remember one time, in the early stages of my Dystonia, whenever I would have an attack, I would sense my husband’s, what I then perceived was anger towards me. I would say to him, “It’s not my fault I’m in pain! Stop being angry at me!” My husband’s reaction to my flares made me feel like I was an inconvenience to him. I thought to myself, “How dare him?” I’m the one in pain, living an unpredictable rollercoaster life; how could he be the one angry? Later he made me understand that his reaction stemmed from being unable to express how he felt whenever he saw me struggling. Yes, he was furious; he was frustrated, but not at me. He felt helpless watching me suffer. “I couldn’t help you. I couldn’t make you feel better. I wanted to take your pain away,” he explained. Of course, my husband cared. What was I thinking? He wanted to help me, but he didn’t know how and I didn’t try to understand. My husband chose not to share his frustration with me because he didn’t want to add to my problems. We had a misunderstanding. Many of our support systems are this way; they see that we are struggling; therefore, they choose to keep their feelings hidden. However, our support systems must have their outlets, too.

Sometimes we forget the people who take care of us have a life to live. They have things they have to do, deadlines to meet, and business to run, but still, they find time to tend to our needs. My mother was the same way. When she was still working, my mother had things she had to take care of, yet; she would find time to come by my house to clean and cook some of my favorite comfort food. She knew my internal struggles; my guilt for not fulfilling my duties; therefore, she would take care of some of my responsibilities as a mother and a homemaker. She stepped up because she could feel my pain internally. The burden on our support system can be heavy. On top of taking care of their responsibilities, sometimes they also have to fulfill ours, which can be stressful. 

Many times, we fail to communicate with our support system, assuming that we all understand each other. However, this could be far from the truth. Communication between us and our support system is essential; it is vital in our journey. Communication allows us to know where each of us stands. Are we tired? Do we need to pause? Do we need to talk? Our support system could physically see our pain, but sometimes it’s beneficial to speak with them, let them know how we feel inside, and share our feelings. At the same time, it can also allow us to listen to theirs. Are they tired? Do they need to talk? Do they need a break? We also need to be mindful of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. As chronic illness sufferers, we might not physically assist our support system, but we can certainly offer our understanding and patience. 

Because my husband made sure he took care of my needs first, he kept his struggles in and eventually got sick himself. Knowing that my husband was stressed about my illness, which ultimately affected his health, I felt awful. We can avoid these situations by making sure we hear each other out. It took some reflection, understanding, empathy, and compassion to realize that I was not traveling alone in this chronic illness journey. I realized that my support system was with me, experiencing the same roller coaster I was riding. I finally saw my husband, children, and parents and understood their need to be heard and understood.

In conclusion, It is imperative that we see our support system, recognize and acknowledge that they, too, are living with our conditions. It is easy for us who physically feel the pain to get sidetracked and take our support systems for granted. We forget that they have feelings and need to care for their well-being. Whoever is part of our support system, our spouse, our parents, or our children, they must take care of themselves, physically and mentally, just like we take care of ourselves as chronic illness warriors. They, too, need to pause, take a deep breath, and rest. They, too, need to be seen and heard. Let’s remind ourselves that we are not alone in our journey; it is stressful for our loved ones to see us suffer; therefore, it could be stressful for their health, too. We must remember that we are all in this together. We must take care of each other and hold hands on this roller coaster ride.


Three 10 Minute Mind and Body Stillness Practice I Find Helpful to Combat Stress and Anxiety

Do you have a daily stillness routine to help you manage stress and anxiety?⁣

⁣Ever since I started living with #𝗵𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗽𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗰𝗺𝗶𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲 and #𝗱𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗮, life has become very #𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗳𝘂𝗹. Navigating work, home, and social life became very taxing. The unpredictability of attacks brought my #stress and #anxiety level way up high. I started to get frustrated, angry, and restless. I was irritable and quick to snap at every little thing. I knew then that something needed to change, not only for my benefit but also for my family. They are my support system and have been with me through my ups and downs, this is why I’ve decided to find ways to calm my mind and body.

⁣I started utilizing my good days to explore exercises my body would tolerate, and I found swimming and yoga favorable. Although I cannot do this as consistently as I would like, I try to do them whenever I have my “good days” and am physically able to do them. Exercise has also been found to be beneficial for people with #migraine. According to American Migraine Foundation, “Exercise helps manage the symptoms and triggers of migraine on multiple fronts. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins also induce positive feelings and a sense of well-being, an asset for people living with migraine, who face increased risk of anxiety and depression. Exercise can improve sleep quality and consistency and help relieve stress, which are both common migraine triggers.”

Why yoga? Aside from my distaste for running? Lower intensity exercise such as simple yoga stretching is less likely to trigger my dystonia symptoms. According to Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, “The benefits of exercise and physical activity for neurological disorders is well-known. Individuals with dystonia may experience numerous barriers to healthy levels of exercise, including the fact that physical activity sometimes worsens dystonia symptoms.” However, DMRF found that “A team of exercise scientists and physical therapy experts at University of Auckland in New Zealand conducted a survey of 260 dystonia patients about physical activity and barriers to exercise. The survey revealed that lower intensity exercise, such as light walking and general stretching, were among the least aggravating for dystonia symptoms.” Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

On top of the exercises I’ve incorporated into my weekly routine, I’ve also created what I now call 𝟯/𝟭𝟬 𝗦𝗠𝗣+H20 practice. 𝟯/𝟭𝟬 𝗦𝗠𝗣+H20 is an acronym for 𝟯 – 𝟭𝟬 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗘𝗧𝗖𝗛– 𝗠𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗣𝗥𝗔𝗬 + HYDRATION. I use this as a guide to my daily calm and stillness.⁣ According to Mayo Clinic, “Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

⁣I usually start my day with this 30-minute practice. ⁣

𝟭. I begin with what I call the “accept and release” mentality as I sit on a yoga mat before starting the SMP+H2O practice. I think of any tension that I may have accumulated, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, and I welcome them all, but I make sure that I accept the things I cannot change or control. I take a deep breath and release all the tension from within, leaving what I like to think of as a blank canvas inside me. ⁣

𝟮𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗘𝗧𝗖𝗛 – After feeling the release of all the stress from my mind and body, I start with a few simple yoga 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗲𝘀 that engage the whole body for 𝟭𝟬 minutes. I focus on the simplicity of the stretches and the slow inhale and exhale breathing technique.⁣ The key is slow and simple, and I only do what my body allows me. It is essential to listen to your own body before and while doing this.

𝟯𝗠𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗘 – Once I’m done with the stretches, I use the meditation app called #calm. I sit on the mat and listen to the 𝟭𝟬 minute daily calm, following its instruction to bring stillness through my mind and body, ending with a few deep breaths. ⁣ I also allow myself to hydrate at this time.

𝟯𝗣𝗥𝗔𝗬- I then proceed to the next step. I use another app called #youversion to listen to a chapter from the Bible. (𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘗𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘮𝘴 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵.) I find the audio voice from “youversion” calming. During this time, I incorporate my prayer. I do this for a total of 𝟭𝟬 minutes, taking slow and deep breaths in between – accepting, releasing, and connecting with God. ⁣

⁣Depending on what time of the day I do this, I spend a few minutes 𝙧𝙚𝙛𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙜𝙣𝙞𝙯𝙞𝙣𝙜, and 𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜. I begin with reflecting about my day, taking slow and deep breaths in between thoughts, then recognizing what I can’t control or change, and I 𝙧𝙚𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙚 them all as I exhale. I then acknowledge and remember the good things that have happened throughout the day, welcoming them into my canvas, appreciating them, and feeling grateful for the blessings; this is what I call the moment of replacing. I replace the tension with blessing, repainting my canvas with good thoughts for the day or night.

𝟰H2O – I end each session with slow and deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling. I do this 3x and finish the session with a glass of cold water to refresh and hydrate.

𝗜 𝗮𝗺 𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝗱𝗮𝘆! ⁣

⁣The whole practice takes only 30 minutes out of my day—three 10 min separate sessions of simple Yoga 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, and 𝗽𝗿𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗿. However, you can extend this to 45 minutes or an hour if you like, the choice is yours, but I find it easier to set aside 30 minutes out of my day and use it any time of the day. I usually find it more beneficial first thing in the morning to start my day or right before bedtime to end a hectic day. ⁣I find it a helpful practice for stress and anxiety as well. However, make sure that you listen to your body and talk to your doctor if you have stress and anxiety.

𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗲: 𝘚𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘨𝘢 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦. 𝘚𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘤 𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘴𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘵𝘺𝘱𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘹𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘦. ⁣

⁣𝗗𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗮 𝗱𝗮𝗶𝗹𝘆 stillness 𝗿𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗲? Would you please share what works for you? Please tag me on IG @wonderfullymade_jenn  or @writes_jennifersenne, and let’s empower each other!

When Tummy Ache Could Potentially Be Abdominal Migraine

I’ve written a few blogs and articles about migraine, the confusing and debilitating symptoms it posits, and all the other odd phenomenon that comes with the disease. I am, yet, writing another migraine-type that many people are unfamiliar with, not even those who live with migraine.

My daughter was eight years old when she first had her migraine symptoms. We were at a water park all day with some friends and had decided to end the fun day with dinner. She then began to feel nauseous, though she had a hard time explaining how she felt at the moment. “Mommy, my stomach feels weird,” she said. I thought she was probably dehydrated from being under the sun all day or perhaps hungry, so I told her to relax, and that we would get her something to eat and drink. After a few minutes, we found ourselves in the bathroom with her vomiting and in excruciating pain. Not long after, she said, “Mommy, my head hurts.” The day ended with my baby asleep on my lap. 

According to American Migraine Foundation, “Migraine is hereditary, so if one or both parents has migraine, there is a 50-75 % chance their child will be affected.” As a person who lives with migraine attacks almost every day, I knew right away,  that she had just experienced her first migraine attack.” I took my daughter to her pediatrician to make sure there was nothing more seriously wrong with her. I was surprised by her diagnosis. “She has a stomach migraine,” my baby’s doctor had informed me. A stomach migraine? Baffled, I asked myself, Migraine is a headache, isn’t it? 

According to American Migraine Foundation, “Some children experience abdominal pain with an attack.” AMF further explains, “Abdominal migraine is a sub-type of migraine seen mainly in children. It consists of episodes of abdominal pain with nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pallor. Between episodes, there should be no symptoms. Children with abdominal migraine generally go on to develop migraine headaches later in life.” I then realized that there is so much more to a migraine condition. It is not just a headache!

My baby is now eighteen years old, and as AMF had explained, she, now, too experiences headaches with her migraine attacks which were always preceded by stomach discomfort. We would often miss the warning signs blaming her episodes on different issues such as food poisoning or a simple stomachache until I’m reminded of her first migraine experience. Of course, not all stomachaches are migraine symptoms, so it is always vital to check with your doctors. It is also beneficial to learn about migraine attacks, especially if you or your child have been diagnosed with the condition.

What are the symptoms of abdominal migraine in children?  According to Yale Medicine, “The main symptoms of abdominal migraine are recurrent episodes of moderate to severe stomach pain that lasts for between 1 and 72 hours. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and pale appearance. (The symptoms rarely occur between episodes.).” 

If you, as a parent, live with a migraine or suspect your child might be experiencing an abdominal migraine, please see a neurologist or a pediatrician and get the proper diagnosis. Though it is essential to read and be knowledgeable about migraine conditions and their symptoms, it does not replace an accurate diagnosis from a neurologist.

So next time your child or anyone in your family complains about abdominal pain without a cause, especially if you as a parent live with the debilitating symptoms of migraine yourself, seek medical help from a pediatrician or a neurologist and ask about the possibility of abdominal migraine. Remember that a Migraine is more than just a headache.             

Show You Care!

Image from Shades For Migraine

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.

Migraine is NOT just a headache. It is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people; adults and children worldwide.

According to American Migraine Foundation, “For more than 90% of those affected, migraine interferes with education, career and social activities.” This is very true in my case. On top of dystonia, I have had to stop working because of the unpredictability of this condition. Lately, I have devoted my time on writing, connecting with advocates and spreading awareness about chronic health condition, including migraine.

While headache is the most common symptoms during a migraine attack, According to Association of Migraine Disorders, Migraine is a full body disorder.

“While this is the typical classification for migraine disease, we at AMD recognize that migraine is a complex neurological disease with symptoms well beyond a headache. Migraine can impact the entire nervous system. This means people may experience symptoms in various parts of their body. One may think these widespread symptoms are not related but in fact, migraine could be the underlying cause.

Migraine is NOT just a headache. It is imperative that we understand what migraine is, how it affects people, and how we can help and spread awareness, this is the reason why I jumped on board with Shades for Migraine Campaign. On June 21st, show you care, and join hundreds of people worldwide by wearing your shades for migraine in support of friends and family who live with this debilitating condition.

Silent Migraine Isn’t So Silent After All

“Shhh… keep it down; I have a silent migraine.” Yes, you read it right; – a silent migraine. What in the world is a silent migraine? 

Have you ever heard someone say they have a migraine, but they don’t have a headache? What?! Yes, that was my reaction, too! Aren’t you suppose to have head pain when you have a migraine? According to my research, you don’t necessarily have to be. You can have a migraine without a headache. Migraine without pain is another baffling phenomenon that many people are not familiar with or do not understand. If you haven’t had chronic migraines and have not experienced the frustration of having all the mysterious symptoms migraines can bring, perhaps, you would not have heard of silent migraines. 

During one of my neurologist visits, I was reluctant to bring up what I was feeling lately. I did not want him to think I was going crazy. I had all the migraine aura, yet I didn’t feel pain and, I told him this. I waited for him to look at me and say, “that’s impossible!” but instead, he gave me a sympathetic look and said, “You are suffering from acephalgic migraine, sometimes called “silent” migraine.” A what?! I was shocked to hear this – a migraine without the headache! Isn’t migraine always associated with pain? I guess not. I left the clinic knowing that I wasn’t going crazy after all.

I’ve learned from that visit that silent migraines could bring out some if not all migraine aura without the head pain. Though hard to comprehend, silent migraines sounded fascinating to me, so I tried to educate myself. Don’t let the name fool you. Silent migraines can still be enfeebling. Migraine aura such as

  • light sensitivity
  • vision loss
  • seeing zigzags or
  • squiggly lines
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking
  • dizziness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • Abdominal pain (- sometimes called stomach migraine – I think I should write about this, too! My daughter suffered from this.) can still be present without the headache.

As you can see, despite not having any pain, these symptoms are enough to put a halt to anyone’s life. I was diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines presenting additional symptoms on top of some mentioned above; these symptoms usually mimic stroke-like symptoms, then a massive headache would usually follow. However, there are days when I only experience an aura, but they are enough to bring my whole body down.

Because silent migraine is “silent,” taking the proper medication can be a little tricky. There were days when I didn’t know what I was feeling; all I knew was that I didn’t feel well; therefore didn’t know what medicine to take. Medication for regular migraines usually treat silent migraines, my neurologist told me, but this has been a hit and miss for me. It has been challenging for me to catch silent migraines in their early phase. Often, I wouldn’t realize that I was having one till it’s too late. 

There are many causes for silent migraines, or what most of us call triggers. Below are common causes for migraines, even silent ones. 

  • neck problems (number one for me!)
  • noises (this, too!)
  • bright lights (yep!)
  • fermented foods
  • caffeinated drinks (This is very inconsistent for me)
  • wine (aha!)
  • barometric changes (ugh!)
  • MSG (I think so…)
  • stress (definitely!)
  • hunger (yes!)
  • exercise ( sometimes)
  • pain or other illness
  • odors (yep!)
  • eye strain (phone!)
  • too much sleep (yes!)
  • too little sleep (What?! – shaking my head)
  • hormonal changes (yes! Pregnancy, menstruation, peri-menopause-yikes!)
  • chocolate (Ugh!-my favorite.)

Did I comment on all of them? Oh well! By the way, It’s a great idea to have a migraine trigger diary.

I try to find ways to avoid all the triggers, but it is not easy. Sometimes, we are not in control of our environment. There are times when I am very religious at watching my triggers, but at times, I slip, oops! Chocolate!!! Rocky Road ice cream is my one guilty pleasure. I would usually pay the price for my “oops” later, though(pouting).

If you hear someone say they have a silent migraine, no, they are not crazy! Know that even though it’s called silent migraine, it doesn’t mean there are no symptoms present. Silent migraine manifests in different debilitating and crippling ways. Someone who experiences this mysterious phenomenon needs rest, just like those who are having migraines with pain. 

If you experience a migraine aura without a headache? There’s a possibility you could be experiencing a silent migraine. Talk to your neurologist and see what treatment is best for you. 

Please remember, just because one does not feel the pain doesn’t mean they are not struggling. Silent migraine is just as enervating and paralyzing as any migraine can be, so please be compassionate and understanding.

I guess silent migraine isn’t so silent after all. 

Why I wrote Wonder Mommy

In my opinion, mothers have the most challenging job in the world, and I believe that ALL moms are wonder mommies, but I’ve never considered myself as a wonder mommy before; in fact, far from it! Moms wear different hats; one minute, they’re doctors patching their little ones’ boo-boos, then turns into a judge the next trying to settle their children’s misunderstandings; it sounds like a magic trick, right? No, they are merely moms! They are cooks, nurses, teachers, drivers, coaches, and so much more! In other words, all moms are wonder mommies, including me!

Mommies who struggle with chronic illness face different challenges, however, they wear different hats, but they have to be creative in accomplishing the given responsibilities each hat requires. Every day is unpredictable for mommies with chronic illness. Though they try to push through the pain, sometimes they miss planned playdates and other fun activities with their children. For some, they couldn’t even plan activities for the next day, let alone the following week. Even moms of teenagers and young adults go through the same challenges; I can attest to both experiences.

It isn’t easy to simultaneously be a mom and a chronic illness warrior; other mental and emotional factors play a significant role in our lives. I, for once, was stricken by guilt each time I’d missed fun activities because I had to rest and feel better. I felt as if I wasn’t enough and that I was a burden to my family. I thought that I’d failed my children; my husband and I felt as if I’d disappointed them. Insecurities crept in.

Migraines and dystonia have no place in my life, but it is what I was dealt with; I have to accept them and move forward. As challenging as it was for me, I’ve decided to make the most of my situation and decided to influence and uplift other mommies out there positively; I know I wasn’t alone in my struggles; this is why I wrote “Wonder Mommy.” I hope that this book would encourage and remind mommies how amazing they are. My goal is for moms to realize that our best is enough, that we are enough, that we are wonder mommies in our children’s eyes despite our battles and limitations. I want to encourage mothers that though we have some bad days physically and emotionally, it’s okay. We may feel defeated one day, but we will surely get back the next; that’s what makes us wonder mommies!

I dedicate my book to all moms, but most especially to moms like me who have to be “wonder mommies” to our little wonders while being chronic illness warriors! To all moms out there, I salute you! Stay strong!

Wonder Mommy!

Even when days are tough, mommies are a wonder – For Mommies with Chronic Illness.

Motherhood is a blessing, it is full of excitement and jubilation, but motherhood is also full of challenges and trials. I am a mother of three beautiful children. I am also a mother who happened to struggle with chronic illnesses. Being a mother is tough, period. Being a mother while battling a chronic disease faces different types of challenges, at least it does for me.

I’ve always suffered from headaches, even when I was a child. Headaches were no stranger to me, although I never understood why I would sometimes faint when I got them; later on in life, I found out I had migraines. I knew everyone had had a headache at one point in their life, but I never heard of a migraine before until I became an adult, and even then, I thought migraine was just a worse kind of headache; was I wrong!

My headaches subsided for years. When I delivered my second child, it seemed to have come back more often. Hormones! I blamed it all on hormones then. For the most part, I was able to handle it pretty well. My third child came, and the headaches came back more frequent; other odd symptoms accompanied it. My face would tingle, my left eye would get smaller, and parts of my body would feel numb. I would feel nauseated, and lights and sounds started to bother me. I would nap when my little ones napped, hoping it would go away, and it did, but a couple of days after, a massive headache would come. I had to learn how to cope with this condition. It was pretty challenging to do daily activities with my three children, especially when required to be out in the sun, going to the movies, or anywhere where my senses could be heightened.

One day, while walking into a grocery store, my left leg gave out. My left calf spasmed, and it became hard as a rock, I almost fell to the ground. It wasn’t painful, but it was uncomfortable enough to hinder me from walking. I ignored the scene until it started happening frequently. I saw several doctors and had all the tests we could think of, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with me, although they found out I had a complicated migraine called, hemiplegic migraine where it mimics stroke symptoms. On top of the typical aura, migraines brought me, my left body would get heavy, my left eye would shut, I had difficulty speaking, and at times, I would live in a brain fog for days; Voila, Migraines! However, I still didn’t know what was causing the other symptoms.

The spasms came more frequently and lasted longer. Eventually, it started affecting other parts of my body, including my vocal cords, making it tough to speak; it felt as though it involved my chest, too, but it turned out my diaphragm was spasming, causing me to catch my breath at times. During a severe attack, my ankles would twist in, making me scream in excruciating pain and leave me unable to walk. Finally, after seeing more specialists, I was diagnosed with a condition I have never heard of before called dystonia. Dystonia is a condition characterized by involuntary muscle contractions and other debilitating symptoms. On top of the other symptoms I was getting from migraine, I had to watch out for dystonia symptoms as well, which I later discovered would overlap each other, at least for me. When a severe migraine hits, dystonia would surely follow.

My days became unpredictable, not knowing whether I would wake up having a good day or having one of those days where I can’t do much. Living with a chronic illness is no easy task; the days can be frustrating. Some fall into depression, especially when they do not have a support system as I do. I thank God for blessing me with a husband who understands and is willing to face the challenges with me, especially when it came to my responsibilities as a mother.

I felt guilty for not being enough. There were days when I felt robbed of opportunities to be the best mother to my children. Sometimes I felt my children’s disappointment when I could not do the fun things they would want to do at a particular moment, or so I thought, insecurities played with my mind.  Many times I felt defeated until I realized that my children were capable of empathy. When times are tough, I would explain how I felt to my children, and I was greeted by surprise at how understanding they were. They taught me how to be creative in my parenting style. I remember one day, one of my daughters would ask me, “Mommy, are you feeling ok? I can be your doctor.” We would play doctor and patient, and I would get my rest while they “treat” me. There were many other ways my little children showed their understanding and compassion. I want to think that my situation taught them how to be as such.

Photo by Kamaji Ogino on Pexels.com

Mothers with a chronic disease fight a powerful enemy; we do not only fight the illness, but we also face insecurities. We require a different type of strength each day, knowing when to rest, when to ask for help and knowing that we are loved despite our limitations. Mothers need the power to realize that we are doing the best we could despite our circumstances and the force to see that regardless of the challenges we face every day in raising children, we are wonder mommies in our children’s eyes.

To all the “Wonder Mommies” out there, with chronic illness or not, be present for your little ones. The only way to do that is to take care of yourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and most of all, spiritually. Realize that there is no perfection in motherhood; instead, realize that you are the perfect mother to your children. Be patient with yourselves; know that you deserve to relax and take a break; after all, warriors need their rest to win a battle.

Stay strong and see the WONDER MOMMY in you!

This is a tribute for mommies with chronic illness. This book reminds little readers that even when things are tough, Mommies are a Wonder! Pre Order it Now @ https://amzn.to/3sSxsuS

Don’t Let Your Struggles And Pain Go To Waste.

I used to believe that pain and struggles were worthless and unnecessary part of life. Who would want to go through pain and struggles anyway? After going through so much in life, I could honestly say that I would not want anyone to go through what I went through. The question is, are we immune to struggles and pain? You may have not experienced what I’ve experienced, but I am certain you have your own stories. Perhaps, your story is about your  physical, emotional or even spiritual struggles. Now, it all depends on whether you want to tell your stories or not. Some may be too painful to share. However, I believe that struggles and pain should not go to waste.

I’ve fallen and had been broken so many times before, but somehow I’ve been put back together several times, piece by piece, cracks visible and roughness felt. Despite those flaws, today, I stand beautiful and robust. Some may look at me today and see someone who was once broken and now stood with a sign that says, “fragile,” or “handle with care.” What they fail to realize is that I am still standing, and my experiences are what made me strong. Thanks to the one who created me. I have a creator who molded me to be something beautiful and wonderful from the moment he decided to breathed life into me. Unfortunately, life brought challenges in my life, and many times, those challenges left me broken. However, God picked up the pieces and glued them back together to show how magnificent an art I still could become. I was put back together, stronger for His purpose. 

 Struggles and pains are inevitable; they are part of life, and it is up to us how we deal with them. Do we run and hide in fear, or do we face them with tenacity and strength? Don’t get me wrong, at times exhaustion creeps upon us, and many times, we will face defeat, but that’s okay; we are human, after all. What’s important is that we know how to get back up. 

As Helen Keller once said, “The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming of it.”

Let’s continue to fight, and fight not only for ourselves but for those who cannot fight for themselves – yet! Don’t let struggles and pain go to waste. Use them as your source of strength and empower others. There will always be storms in life. Instead of drowning in them, why not be ready for them to come? Swim through the struggles and when you reached the other side, show others how you got there; inspire and empower. Do not let your struggles and pain go to waste.

I hope this empowers you today! 🙂

Writing Helped Me Overcome Stress and Gained a New Perspective On Life

A mom living with Dystonia and Hemiplegic Migraine

Dystonia is a frustrating condition that many people do not understand. I also happen to suffer from hemiplegic migraines. Like many migraineurs out there, living in a fog, constant body aches, and some other unexplainable symptoms are quite frustrating. Every day is an unpredictable day for those of us who suffer from chronic illnesses, not knowing whether we will walk, talk, or able to plan the days ahead of us.

For the past few years after my diagnosis, stress was high. The thought of being a burden to my spouse haunted me. The loss of my ability to plan activities with family, schedule meetings at work, or simply jump in the car and go somewhere left me feeling defeated. I lost my independence, and my conditions forced me to take a long break.

I quickly realized that I have to find ways to occupy my time and not focus on my condition, after all, chronic illness doesn’t define me. Whenever I could not move around from dystonia, I sat on my recliner and let my mind wander. I am not a writer, but I love to create stories; I have a broad imagination! When I was younger, I would write poetry even though I did not know-how. Some were so bad only, I could understand. I also enjoyed writing song lyrics. I wrote about happiness, sadness, and pain; whatever came to mind. However, when migraine hits, I had to learn to accept that I have my limitations.

When able, writing, whether it turned out to be good or bad, gave me a sense of peace and accomplishment. Whenever I felt discouraged, writing would always lift my spirits. I remembered the feelings writing brought me when I was younger, and I started writing again. Whenever a dystonia episode would come on, instead of fighting and getting frustrated, I picked up my laptop, and I wrote. I wrote about anything, whether it made sense or not, I wrote!

Writing, unlike my conditions, gave me a sense of control. I could be whoever I wanted to be; I could be a famous author or the queen of England. I could be wherever I wanted to be without leaving home, perhaps sipping piña colada at a beach in Jamaica. In my writings, I could feel any emotion; I could be sad; I could be happy. I could be excited; I could also be angry. I often wrote about how angry I was for being sick all the time and to my surprise, it somehow made me feel better. Writing made me feel invincible. Because writing allowed me to express my emotions; all kinds of it, it gave me a great sense of satisfaction; relieving stress and frustration.

Writing stories was a hobby that turned out to be therapeutic for me.
Even though my conditions forced me to quit my job and stay home, it also opened new opportunities. As a result of the unexpected halt dystonia and hemiplegic migraine brought to my life, I learned to publish a book. “Believe,” a faith-based, Christmas book was published in 2017. “Good Morning, Mirror!” a children’s book about the importance of positive self – talk followed in 2018. Perhaps the best thing that came out of all these, was that I was able to help other moms with chronic illness navigate their days while raising their little ones. Thus, I was inspired to write another children’s book that shows how strong moms with chronic illness are. “Wonder Mommy!” is a sweet tribute for mommies with chronic health conditions. The book reminds little readers that even when things are tough, Mommies are a Wonder!

Coming Out Soon!

Writing brought out the creativity in me; it has given me an outlet to release my emotions and calm my daily battle with my conditions. Writing helped me managed stress and gave me a new perspective on life. It is not easy, there are times when writing is not possible. Whenever a migraine hits, there is no way in the world, I’ll be able to write. It is quite challenging to think and remember simple things let alone with words or stories; this is when I allow myself to relax my brain and recharge. It is always good to remember that it’s okay to rest or to take a break, and that it’s okay to ask for help. It is good to find something you can do to manage the stress any chronic illness brings. For me, I know when things get better, I will always have writing to go to and help me brighten my day.