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It Took Laying in a Hospital Bed to Change My Life

Sometimes you have to hit your bottom to reach your top.

They attached the second bag of morphine to the IV pinned into my veins. My dreams felt more like hallucinations. Reality mixed with whatever images were dancing in front of me.

I woke up to my mother and doctor whispering words I couldn’t make out. When the fog finally lifted, they both approached the bed and the doctor asked me to rank the pain from my migraine from 1-10.

“10,” I said, still dazed and not quite sure what was going on. The night before, my migraine had gotten so painful that I couldn’t move, couldn’t sleep, could barely open my eyes. I was curled up on the bed at my mom’s house with tears streaming down the side of my face.

I’m not completely sure how I got to the hospital, but my mom has told me that she and my aunt guided me into the car and once we got there, they put me in a wheelchair and pushed me through the emergency department.

By that point, my migraines had crippled me for about a week. I mean seven full days of laying in my room (the last few at my mom’s house) in complete darkness only getting up to eat or drink the litres of water I consumed daily.

This was my life for over a decade. At least once a year, my bout with migraines sidelined me for a few days. Doctors said they couldn’t pinpoint the cause and so I was resigned to suffering through this pain for the rest of my life. But when I was on that hospital bed that day, head still throbbing despite the morphine and the Tylenol threes and the migraine medicine that they’d prescribed, I knew something had to change.

I had to change my life to change my life

When I left that hospital room, I left knowing that things would be different. There was no way I was dealing with these migraines for another minute, much less for the foreseeable future. Something had to change.

I did my research and learned that rest and diet are two huge contributors to migraines. When I reflected on my life at that time, those were two things that were not priorities. No, I wasn’t overweight at all, but I pretty much ate crap. And on top of that, I was working and socializing at a furious pace. Nights of two or three hours of sleep were a common thing. I’d wake up at five or six in the morning and be up working or hanging with friends till at least 2:00 a.m. This went on for years.

So I started there. Being a freelance writer, I got to dictate my own hours. That level of freedom was important to me, but I was abusing it and my body let me know. So I committed to getting six hours of sleep. No, that still wasn’t ideal, but it was double what I had been getting previously so I figured it was a good place to start.

Figuring out my diet was a bit more complicated. When I left the hospital, my head was still sensitive, so decided to do an elimination diet to determine which foods impacted my migraine. While this was painful, it was probably one of the most important things I’ve done in my life.

Through this elimination diet, I learned that caffeine and peanuts were the biggest triggers, followed by red meat. Other foods had less of an impact, but these seemed to be the main culprits. So I cut red meat and those other main triggers from my diet and became closer to a pescatarian.

That dietary change combined with my lifestyle change made all the difference. It’s been five years since I’ve gotten a migraine. Five whole years! The difference this has made in my life is almost immeasurable.

Do I miss being able to eat whatever I want and stay up all night with my friends? Not really. It was fun for a while for sure, but living a healthier lifestyle has made me more productive in my career. It’s also allowed me to be more active, more energetic, think more clearly and just feel better overall. And the thing is, I still enjoy time with my friends. That hasn’t changed. I just do so in a much more healthy environment.

The moral of this story is that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t impede on the things you want to accomplish or that are important. It actually enhances these things. It’s not an accident that over the last five years, I’ve released my first two novels, made more money than I ever have previously, moved to my dream area and am in the process of reaching my ultimate goal which is to become a published novelist.

My message to anyone reading this is how you live your life matters. Don’t take your body for granted. You get out of it the level of appreciation you put into it.

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