I've Made a Decision.
My wife and I have been living with chronic pain from my migraines for years, and in the last two years or so they have become increasingly frequent and intense to the point where I have them daily and am disabled for at least part of most days.
Why has it gotten so bad? It’s difficult to say but stress, demanding schedule, hitting my thirties, weather, climate allergies likely all play a part. My doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with me and we’ve been playing drug roulette for years. I’ve been experiencing life through a pain and drug induced fog, always in a haze.
I haven’t been living, merely surviving from one day to the next.
I’ve had enough of that. I need something more.
What Does it Mean to Live Free?
What it means to Live Free will be different for everyone. For me, it means the ability to spend most of my time doing something enjoyable with my favourite person – my wife Rachel. Freedom is having the ability to produce, to create, to experience new things and places while working around my migraines rather than being held prisoner in my own body. I want to be independent, to be able to rest when I need and work through the day and night when I want. I want to feel passion and excitement again. I will enjoy every day to its fullest and squeeze every drop of life out of it that I can.
I’ve broken down the pillars of my personal Live Free plan that will take me on a journey to the rest of my life. To Live Free, I need to focus on: health & fitness; travel; supporting others with migraines & chronic pain and; financial independence. That last one is a biggie. Follow along with me as I go on this journey and share the effects on my health and happiness.
Health & Fitness
THE GOAL: Reduction in Migraine Frequency and Intensity - Fewer drugs, Greater health.
I have been on so many different medications to treat migraines and subsequent depression that my medicine cabinet has more drugs than a party at Lil Wayne’s. I don’t advise going off your medication without against your physician’s recommendations and oversight. I plan to gradually reduce medications under the supervision of my family doctor while focusing on non-pharmaceutical prevention and treatment.
I will start with the basics: healthy eating while avoiding migraine triggers; regular exercise 3-5 days per week whenever possible; meditation to calm my mind and body, reducing stress and improving mood; trying different tools, devices and apps to manage my health. Our approach to this is bound to evolve as time goes on and as we learn about our mind, body and how to overcome limitations from illness.
Food is a big part of health, it’s also a big part of our life. Rachel and I love to cook, eat and experience the world through food. As such, you will see recipes, restaurant reviews and photos of food that we enjoy, migraine-friendly food will be tagged.
THE GOAL: Experience the World, Enjoy the World, Eat the World.
Rachel and I have always loved to travel. However, it has been difficult to get out when my migraines are so frequent and unpredictable. Also with my work schedule, I was never able to take more than a week or two each year to travel. I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to let this hold me back.
There is a whole world out there waiting to be experienced. We live in Toronto, Canada and will explore different parts of this city and province. We plan to travel around this great country and visit many others as we grow closer to our goals we will be traveling abroad as well.
Supporting others with Migraine & Chronic Pain
THE GOAL: Create and curate resources for migraineurs.
When I was first was diagnosed with migraines, I didn’t know fully what that meant or what options were available. I’ll be sharing and creating helpful, informational content and tools to help make understanding, tracking and managing your migraines and pain easier. Understanding your illness can validate one’s own experience and is necessary to take ownership, forgive yourself and accept that migraines and chronic pain are not your fault.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge will help you address your disorder on your terms, at your pace.
THE GOAL: Become financially independent and able to work remotely.
This is a biggie. Many migraine sufferers such experience an intensity of pain that their ability to perform day-to-day tasks such as jobs or housework will be hampered, and I’m no different. Last year I was absent from work over 50 days, not to mention the many days that I went in to work feeling awful. This is a tough spot for my employer, who has been incredibly understanding with my illness but still has to run a business and can’t do so with a manager missing almost two months of work the year to migraines.
Not only is being absent from work costly, it is a constant source of stress I would regularly:
- Lay awake in bed at night unable to sleep, worrying that I might wake up with a migraine and be forced to call in sick;
- Wake up with a throbbing headache, going through my treatment ritual of an anti-inflammatory drug, an anti-depression drug, pain medication and a bath to soak my head in the dark. Some days that brings the pain and throbbing down enough that I can go into the office, but usually it isn’t so effective.
- Going into work with a low-mid intensity headache distracting me and being unable to think clearly: there in body, but not in mind or spirit.
- My colleagues end up trying to figure out where I left off on my work. Their workload is increased which inevitably leads to feelings of resentment and greater stress.
Does anyone else experience these anxieties?
I’ve realized that I can’t force my migraines to fit a 9-5 schedule and will have to build my livelihood around the schedule that life and migraines present to me. Migraines are costing myself and my firm too much time and money. Something has to change.
The Way Forward
The life we’ve been living is not sustainable with my illness - a regular 9-5 job is a blessing to most folks but is killing me. To Live free I’m going to focus on my health and fitness goals: eat well, lose weight, meditate, get fit, reduce migraine frequency and intensity. We’re going to spend more time traveling to places near and far and sharing our time and experiences. Struggling with chronic pain and the emotional burden it levies on my wife and I is a challenge, supporting others through their illness will be a pleasure. Finally, financial independence through freelance work, online shop, smart spending, and good old fashioned hustle.
Join us as we enter our biggest adventure yet as we learn to Live Free.