My son’s migraines have been increasing in frequency lately. Instead of suffering a major episode once every 3-4 weeks, he’s now experiencing them every 5-10 days. In case you’re new here, his migraines begin with a headache, but quickly advance to an all-out debilitating migraine. He quits moving; he quits eating. He curls up in a ball on the couch or his bed and trembles in pain. His eyes glass over, and he moans. Hours later, he vomits and vomits. It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours to come out of it.
After visiting with three of his doctors yesterday, we have yet another CT scan scheduled for tomorrow to check his shunt. (When he was 3 years old, we discovered an arachnoid cyst that covered 1/3 of his brain. This shunt continually drains this fluid into his stomach cavity.) I am not very hopeful, however, that anything will be discovered because he just had an MRI this last fall with everything checking out just fine.
In any case, if you have a minute, stop what you’re doing right now and offer a small prayer for him. His patron saint is St. Paul, who was no stranger to suffering himself.
Last Sunday we began the holy season of Advent. So I’ll offer a few thoughts and ideas on what works for our family to keep this season holy and prayerful. If you have any great traditions or ideas, I’d love to hear about them too.
Where to we start?
Lately I’ve mentioned the importance of Confession and Adoration. While we never quit going to Confession throughout the year, our family has taken a three-month hiatus from Adoration, as we were into the chaotic business of packing and moving and switching parishes. Now that that’s over, it is our top priority to get back to a weekly holy hour, beginning this week.
This is a difficult thing, however, as we feel strongly that not only my husband and I ought to have an hour, but that all those children who have received First Holy Communion should too. So, we just have to make it a priority, which sometimes means saying no to other things, while also getting creative.
My hour will be during the evening and by myself, as I’m home all day and need a break. My husband’s hour, however, will be in the morning before work, and he’ll take the four older children with him. This is doable because after the holy hour, two of the children will walk over to their school, one will join her homeschool coop, which happens to be at our parish, and the last remaining child will get picked up by me.
Complicated? Yes. Worth it. Double Yes Yes. Prayer is the most important thing we can make time for. It is our top priority.
Advent Prayer Intentions
This Advent we will be of course offering prayers for our Church, but also specifically for our son who suffers from migraines. Lately they’ve become more intense and debilitating, which landed us back at his neurologist’s office. After an MRI, we discovered that he has a Chiari I Malformation, which is fancy talk for the lower brain extending too far into the spinal cord.
We don’t know if this is causing his migraines, so we’ll be traveling to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis to have a specialized, pediatric neurologist examine him. We hope to find some answers. And if you think of it, please pray for him.
And now the Fun Stuff
Of course we’ll be lighting our Advent wreath every evening at dinner. The children love this because we shut all the lights off, light the candle, and sing two verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Then my husband prays the Vespers Responsory and the Magnificat Antiphons, with the O Antiphons being the last seven days of Advent. It’s beautiful.
As many of you also do, we have our nativity set out too. Well, just the stable, shepherds, Drummer Boy, and the animals, as Mary and Joseph are traveling. We start them off somewhere else in the house and move them closer every few days or so.
And for school? During Midmorning Prayer Time, our hymns will reflect the season. Our favorite is On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry. And we’ll be listening the Benedictines of Mary Advent at Ephesus during all hours of the day!
And for poetry? I’m still looking for a good piece. Anyone have any ideas? Drop me a line.
I pray your season of Advent may be prayerful and fruitful!
I’ve been putting in a lot of Mom Hours lately. You know, days when one doesn’t even get a solid fifteen minute break. (Not to say anything of the night.)
Of course it’s been busier than usual with the selling of our home and the purchasing of another, but it’s more than that. It’s the start of a new school year with many new elements thrown in. For example, two of our children are now attending a brick and mortar school, which requires more driving. And I am still homeschooling three others with a Toddler and a Baby bouncing along in the background.
And somebody has to make sure there’s food on the table.
Now I like doing all these things. But I don’t like that my 9-year-old son suffers from migraines. This throws me for a loop every time. I can always sense when one is coming on because I find him sitting on the couch, not moving. Then, there’s a glassy look in his eyes. Then, he doesn’t want to eat, which is a constant worry for me because he only weighs 60 pounds to begin with. And finally, within an hour of that, it’s an all-out migraine.
His migraines last anywhere from 4-10 hours. And they almost always end in vomiting. Last week, as he was throwing up in the toilet, I was moved to tears. He was so weak that when he finished, he simply slumped to the floor and lay there.
I felt helpless. I finished scrubbing the toilet and turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting. I wish I could take it away.” Then he got up and looked at me with his big, sunken-in eyes and said quietly, “Mom, you are not meant to suffer migraines. I am. It is God’s will.” And he slowly walked back to the couch.
It is God’s will.
He’s right, and I have a lot to learn from him. Even while he was clutching the toilet, he was praying for my cousin who suffers from alcoholism. Surely God hears the prayers of the little suffering children. It was painfully beautiful to witness.
If only I would remember to pray during my hardships – my sleepless nights of insomnia, for example. For the Office of Compline reminds me:
In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord.
And again in Psalm 91,
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
My God, in whom I trust. To whom would I rather go?
It is God’s will that my son suffers migraines, and it is my lot to care for him. It is also God’s will that I suffer from insomnia. And yes, it means putting in long Mom Hours. This is no 9-5 vocation after all, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer.