And then I cried; it’s okay to ask for help

If you’ve been paying close attention lately (I haven’t) you’ve probably noticed I’ve been M.I.A. for awhile.  A long while.  This year has been unintentionally awful for me physically speaking, (like one has an intentionally horrible medical year?) even though I’ve tried to make deliberate healthful decisions.  I’ve said no to projects I really wanted, turned down travel, and have generally laid low in my day-to-day life.  I started eating vegan, work out regularly, take naps, hired someone to clean my house twice a month, and outsourced my finances.  2012 was supposed to be the year of me getting healthy while living purposefully.  Being in charge!  Because I am the boss of me!  And being the boss of me means being healthy and feeling awesome and achieving world domination!

Only not so much.

it's okay to ask for help

I don’t know what happened, but sometime around April things went all prickly pear shaped.  They hadn’t really been circle-y since January, but after a bit of travel in April and May my body started saying:

No thank you.  You don’t get to be in charge anymore.  We’ll take it from here, and that means one migraine a week.  Minimum.’

Every time I’ve traveled over the past few years, (flying twice a month minimum) I’ve ended up with a migraine.  Without fail.  I would be in some amazing place (Hawaii! San Francisco! New York City!) flat in bed with a sleep mask on, crying into my pillow, debating whether or not to go to the ER.  Thankfully I didn’t end up in the hospital while traveling, but I did miss out on a lot of cool stuff because I was too sick to leave my hotel room.

The crux of the deal isn’t just that I missed out on night swimming in Hawaii because I was puking in the bathroom, (although come ON) but that’s it’s been really hard to be an effective blogger, freelancer, wife, mother, friend, sister, neighbor, human with all this health nonsense dragging on and on, and on, and on.

and then I cried: it's okay to ask for help

The day-to-day has been hard enough to try and maintain for awhile, but about a month ago I woke up in the middle of the night with a blinding migraine.  Pain like I’ve never experienced before; this is coming from someone with Lupus, a painful chronic disease I’ve had literally half my life.  I did all the usual stuff I do for migraines but the pain would. not. go. away.  I went to my massage therapist, saw my chiropractor, exercised, took medicine, slept, had physical therapy, drank lots of water, and mainlined caffeine all to no avail.  I couldn’t stand upright for more than a handful of minutes at a time, and opening my eyes was excruciating.

it's okay to ask for help

Three weeks passed.  I ate a steady migraine diet of caffeine and yogurt, (I would’ve skipped on the yogurt except something needed to cushion the blow for all the Ibuprofen) and things got worse instead of better.

Somewhere around week 3 1/2 I lost my mind.  A full-blown migraine with tunnel vision on top of my day-t0-day docket filled with pain is apparently more than even I can handle.  After Viktor took the kids to swim practice one day, I tried to get up out of bed and change positions, something, anything to help with the pain.  I ended up on my bedroom floor on all fours, rocking back and forth like a woman in transition and suddenly my spirit broke in half.  I started crying.  Great big, heaving, hiccup-sobs.  I laid in the fetal position with my hands around my head, wailing like I never ever, ever have before, begging someone, anyone, to take the pain away because I couldn’t take it one. more. second.

I texted a few of my closest girlfriends, seeking advice about what to do next.  I’d tried everything in my arsenal, to no avail and was completely out of options.

Except.

Except I hadn’t asked anyone for help.  I like asking for help about as much as I like needing it; which is to say, not a lot.  But I was literally backed up against a wall in a dark alley in a foreign city where I didn’t speak the language, flat out of cash.  I had no option but to ask for help.  I asked for help, followed the sage wisdom of some girlfriends, and went to the hospital.  I asked a dear friend to take my kids overnight and Viktor took me to the Emergency Room for some migraine intervention.

While I was at the hospital getting a migraine cocktail IV (highly recommend, 5 stars) my children were safely tucked away with friends, having the time of their lives (Sleepover with best friends on a weeknight!  Pizza for lunch!)  The previous day a friend had driven 30 minutes one way to drop off treats, and another had left a drink and note on my doorstep.  When I came home from the hospital another two friends had come into the house and done a set of dishes, vacuumed my house, and stocked my fridge and pantry with supplies.  My favorite college roommate offered to make dinner once a week and bring it 45 minutes out of her way to my house.

And then I cried

And I said yes: yes I would love some help, I can’t do this on my own anymore.

Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.  In fact, sometimes it’s miraculous and beautiful to ask for help.  Once in a while it’s cool to hand the reins to someone else for a minute, it’s healthy to let someone else run the show while you catch your breath.  We’re not solitary creatures, we’re not meant to conquer every heartache on our own and more often than not there’s someone with arms stretched out, waiting to catch us when we fall.

then I cried it's ok to ask for help

My headache still isn’t gone, and I’m more than 5 weeks into the ordeal.  All sorts of specialists are involved and I’m paying a small fortune more than a handful of mortgage payments in medical bills, but for the first time in awhile I feel hopeful.  Not so much that my pain will finally go away, or that all my doctors will miraculously find a cure for this nightmare, but hopeful for me.

Because I cried, I asked for help, and help came running.  With arms wide open.

(Visited 1,754 times, 1 visits today)

Allison

Hello there! I’m Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I’m super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we’re a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!

49 Comments

  1. Liz :

    What a scary time for you and your family. Glad you had friends right there and ready to help. Feel better soon.

  2. Melanie H :

    Asking for help is ridiculously hard. Asking for help when you’re in the middle of migraine fog is even worse. If you’re like me, you just want to hide in your room in the dark, not suck it up and make things happen… and even THINKING about everything that’s not getting done while you deal with the pain just makes things worse. I’m so sorry your spirit had to be broken at all. But I’m so glad that when it did, you had people there to help. And I hope that SOMEONE can manage to find an answer for you. Migraines are of the devil. I truly believe that, in a literal way.

  3. Suzanne @ pretty*swell :

    So glad you gave yourself some grace. It’s amazing how difficult it is to ask for help, even when we need it most. Big hugs from a stranger in North Carolina. Rooting for you.

  4. Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks} :

    I am so very sorry you’re going through this. Sending you warm, healing thoughts.

  5. aimee @ smilingmama :

    Big hugs from half way across the country! Sending warm thoughts to you!

  6. Amy :

    This sounds horrible. Thinking healing thoughts. I’m so glad you were brave enough to ask for help.

  7. Heather F :

    I sure hope things are looking up for you and sending good thoughts and prayers your way! <3!

  8. Qui :

    :( Praying for healing. Sorry you are having such a rough go. Hang in there, and way to ask for help! And look at your friends being all awesome :)

  9. Kathleen W. :

    I was wondering where you were, and sorry that it’s not jet-setting off someplace cool. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for the return of good health. Hugs!

  10. Samantha :

    This is so beautiful. Your story and your writing made me cry. We are all so vulnerable and any one of us could need the help of our fellow humans at any moment.
    I so hope you are feeling better soon; your ordeal sounds just awful.

  11. Emily :

    I had noticed you weren’t around as much but was hoping it was b/c you were on some excellent adventures. I’m so sorry you’ve been having so much trouble and pain. I’m glad you’re surrounded by friends and were able to ask for help (I hate asking for help!). I hope you feel better soon.

  12. Kristen :

    Oh hon…. I knew you were suffering, just not sure from what.
    What can I do? Please… I’d love to help. Let me know or better yet. I’ll let you know.
    Sending you an email.

  13. Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia) :

    My offer of dinner(s) still stands. Sending love to you. xoxo

  14. Kristen Howerton :

    Oh friend, I am so sorry you are feeling so crappy. I wish I was close by so I could help. I also struggle with sharing the load, and I’m glad you are surrendering that and letting some friends love on you in tangible ways.

  15. Jamie :

    A. I’m sorry. I cannot even imagine and I hope that your team of professionals gets this under control ASAP.

    B. There is another blogger (Jennette Fulda http://www.jenful.com/) who wrote a book (Chocolate and Vicodin http://chocolateandvicodin.com/) about HER headache. Perhaps it would help??

  16. Maile :

    Sweet friend. I hate that you had to go through this. I’m so glad you asked for help. I know how hard it is to do. But I love that you were able to feel how much people love you and are here for you. Me included. xo

  17. jennyonthespot :

    Oh my friend. MY FRIEND! Praise and glory for friends who activate… Our friends DO want to help, but they need to know how. Reaching out helps friends know… It’s desperately hard. I am so glad your system of friends is there for you… my heart breaks that you are still battling this pain. I am thinking of you and praying for you. I adore you, mama and am sending lots of love your way right now…

  18. Laura :

    You are in my prayers as you continue to recover. This was a beautiful (if difficult to read) post. Allison, you are an inspiration!

  19. Ella :

    I had a combination migraine/tension headache my entire senior year of college. I know what it’s like, and it’s just plain awful. I hope you get some real relief soon.

  20. Kelleyn :

    Sorry you have been so sick. I hope you feel better soon. Sending prayers your way, and Happy Birthday last week. Hugs from Atlanta!

  21. Samantha :

    Motherflucker. I wish I was there. Well, not so much there, there in Utah, but there for you.

    DANG. I hate it when our bodies rebel and we lose control because we’re supposed to be all zen and know that we are not the ones in control at all, even with all that free agency and such. DANG.

    I wish I could cook for you, take your kids and give you a big, fat pillow to scream in. And I’m so glad that you have the beautiful village you have.

    I’m just part of the online village, but I’ll hold the torch, the puke bag, the handbag, and whatever else you need.

    xo

  22. Barb @ getupandplay :

    Oh, how awful. Please continue to ask for and accept help for as long as you think you need, and then add a month onto that. I will pray that your headache finally dissipates and that you get some answers. xoxo

  23. Tania R :

    I had a terrible time with migraines for most of my life, and then a few years ago, everything went pear-shaped and i was having several debilitating ones a week, with blindness and all kinds of other scary things. I was incapable of functioning normally. Then i started taking magnesium. Not only did my migraines stop, but all these other weird health problems began to clear up too. And now?….As long as i keep taking the magnesium every day i remain well and active. Not saying it’s a cure for everyone, but a lot of people i know have tried it and it works. My doctors also confirmed it. Turns out there is a big part of the population who cant store this mineral for very long, and we need it. I’m one of them. Hope you find your solution soon too :)

    • dgm :

      I have to second the magnesium recommendation, at least to try. When I hit 40ish, I started suddenly getting bizarre migraine auras w/o headache, consistent with my women-cycle, along with weird twitching. Saw a variety of docs who were useless, so I took matters into my own hands. Because I’d been tracking when the auras would hit, I knew they were hormone-related. In my experience, magnesium is magical, not just for migraines but for cutting sugar cravings and promoting relaxing sleep.

      Having said all that, I am so sorry you’ve had such a rough run of things but glad you have asked for help. I am almost entirely resistant to asking friends to help, which is stupid, so I needed to read this today. I hope you find answers soon.

  24. Boston Mamas :

    Thinking of you and sending lots of hugs. xoxoxo

  25. Heather :

    I’ve noticed you have been gone! I wondered if it was illness. Glad you have your friends to bring you back from the brink! I think you need a blessing or 12! You can do it!!

  26. Kami :

    I seriously hate that you have to deal with this. It just plain sucks! I love that you have been able to let somethings go and take care of yourself. We will all still be here, so do what is best for your body.

    Love you, Allison!

  27. Mimi :

    Feel better soon! Big, soft and gentle, healing hugs coming your way!!!!

  28. Julie Marsh :

    I always credit you with immense strength, and nothing has changed. Sometimes it takes the most strength of all to ask for help. Be well, dear friend.

  29. lori :

    glad to hear you are doing better!!! it is always hard to ask for help.,glad you did!

  30. elz :

    I’ve been wondering where you were, my internet isn’t the same without you. Get well, honey, and focus on you. Clearly your body is demanding it! Best wishes.

  31. M :

    hope you feel better and god bless

  32. Jen M :

    I’m the same way with asking for help. I’m glad you did though and hope you get some answers soon! Take care!

  33. Kim Ross :

    Thank You, Thank You, for sharing, for understanding, for letting as all know it ok to ask for help and we are not alone in having a hard time asking for it.

  34. Melissa :

    How awful! I hope you get some answers and get well soon! I am a reader, haven’t commented before, but wanted to send good thoughts your way.

  35. Kelly Ann :

    I just accidentally found your web site and I bookmarked it and I just think you are fabulous.

    I too suffer with migraines and how they steal your dang life!

    Summer 2012 STUNK because migraine with aura ruined it.

    I know people will give you a zillion things about what worked for them. I got so tired of their solutions while nothing seemed to work.

    BUT – I have to say – I got on Topamax preventative. 100mg a day. I went from 2 -3 migraines a week this summer ruining my life to ZERO AT ALL. I feel completely alive again.

    I hope you feel better soon. Thank God for your friends and family and way to go asking for help!

  36. Jana Maughan :

    Hi, I just stumbled onto your website. I had you same exact problem a few years ago. I don’t know all the tests that you have gone through, but I would like to tell you what has cured mine. Mine started during a very stressful time in my life. I had just opened a flower shop, my husband was working out of town. I had 2 teenage sons and a daughter in elementary school. My migraines were so debilitating that I had to close my shop. When a friend at church told me about her migraine story. She told me that the doctors found that she had something called a PFO. It is basically a hole in the heart. She had a simple operation where they put a stint in her heart and then scar tissue builds up and closes the hole. Could this be my problem as well? So I went to a new neurologist and she first ordered another MRI and a sleep study. She called me and told me that I had scaring on my brain from mini strokes! And the sleep study showed that I was not getting enough oxygen at night! So she set me up with an oxygen machine at night. Then sent me for a trans Doppler bubble eco cardiogram. This shows the blood traveling through the chambers of the heart and then they inject bubbles to see if they pass through. They measure it on a scale of 1-5. Mine was a 5! I was then sent to the cardiologist who then performed an ECO Cardiogram where they could see my “hole”. He told me that I was a walking time bomb. I WOULD die of a massive stroke if I did not get this fixed ASAP! This used to be open heart surgery about 12 years ago. Now they just go up through the femoral vein in your leg and place a stint. It was easy, no pain! I had to stay down for a couple of days and be on blood thinners for about 6 months. But now I am doing great! I still get a migraine or 2 once in awhile, but they go away fast with meds, and they are nothing like they were. I hope this helps. Please fell free to contact me if you want to ask me any questions. Good luck!! You are in my prayers!

  37. Jana Maughan :

    PS I LOVE your site! What an amazing woman you are!

  38. Jana Maughan :

    I just really took a look at your web site. Sorry I am a little slow. I live in Lehi. My Cardiologist is Sherman Sorensen. He is up in Salt Lake City. e is the one who discovered the relationship between the migraines and the heart problem. He is old, but an awesome doctor!

  39. NamelessTraveler :

    First of all, I’d like to say that I’m sorry that you had such a terrible time with those migraines, and I hope things only get better for you. I also find it pretty hard to ask for help (I’m one of those self-reliant types… ), but its kinda made me think about asking for help a little differently reading your article.

    I just found your website, and I think its really great, already tried your sugar scrub recipe, and it did WONDERS for my skin! Keep up the good work, and take care of yourself, ok? :D

  40. Amber :

    What great friends you have. My girlfriend has migraines similar to you. She has been hospitalized on more than one occasion. She was even on Lithium for awhile because they had run out of options. The only thing she has found to help her migraines is Botox treatment. Problem is very few insurances cover Botox for the treatment of migraines – luckily she kept appealing until they allowed it. She needs the treatments every 3-6 months but they help her so much. Good luck to you!

  41. Amber :

    PS – I also agree with the magnesium – that helps my other friend with migraines alot. She also figured out here migraines are very much hormone related – she gets them right before her period. She also had them worse when she was on the Depo shot.

  42. nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma :

    Hi Allison-

    I hope my story can help you. I suffered {being past tense!} terribly from migraines for over 20 years, since the 6th grade. I went gluten-free with my oldest son, and poof!, gone. There’s actually a great deal of information about there now, linking the connection. Dairy is also a big culprit too, because the protein structures are similiar.

    I’ve also had low body temps {in the 97s} and low blood pressure most of my life, which I also think have contributed.

    I agree with your other readers about magnesium, but it’s not the end all be all.

    Here’s a post I wrote up on migraines. I have a few readers who also tried the gluten-free diet to help with migraines, and they’ve had success as well.

    http://www.momnivores-dilemma.com/2011/03/of-gluten-and-migraines.html
    http://www.momnivores-dilemma.com/2011/10/healing-migraines-naturally-5-htp-b.html

    {sorry for the formatting on some of these posts, I just moved to wordpress.}

    My best to you.
    I know where you are. It’s a scary, horrible place.

    Please feel free to email me at any time, once you are better…

    To your health,
    Nicolette

  43. Holly :

    The fact that you changed your diet makes me wonder if that is the cause/related somehow. I was a vegetarian for a while, and I still think being one is the most ethical way to eat…but my health is improving now I have switched to a grain and gluten free, ‘paleo’ style diet of fruit, veges and meat.

  44. Alicia :

    Wow. Thank you for sharing. It is scary to be that vulnerable, but thank you for reminding me that there are times when it’s more than ok to ask for help.

  45. vanessa :

    Gosh Allison I am just so sorry you are in so much pain. Makes my hurt really hurt for you. I am glad you finally learned this lesson (letting others help) I have yet to learn it. Man it is a hard one for me too! I am glad you finally let others really help though :) Good job (it is hard to say yes and let go and realize people care sometimes huh?)

  46. Clarissa R. :

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I hope the migraine will go away soon. My mom was diagnosed with lupus when I was 11. She would spend days in bed with migraines and extreme pain. She couldn’t walk from all the pain in her joints. After spending 3 years in a wheelchair, they finally found something to help her be able to lead a somewhat normal life minus being able to work. It is a hard thing to see the ones you love in so much pain. I hope you get well soon. I enjoy reading your blog and facebook posts.

  47. Chiropractor Nashville :

    Great blog page, very helpful. Keep on sharing one. :)