Finding comedic relief after being diagnosed with migraines

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by Alyssa Silva |

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The delicacy of my health is no joke, but during a recent appointment with my ear, nose, and throat specialist, I had to laugh. In addition to living with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare disease, I’d just learned I was also living with one of the most common diseases in the United States: migraines. Though the situation was serious, I couldn’t help but find comedic relief in the juxtaposition at hand.

Upon learning this, I let an eye roll slip at my doctor. Wasn’t having SMA enough? Haven’t I paid my dues for all the hell my body goes through on a daily basis? Living with SMA brings such an onslaught of challenges to my life that I often feel I should be exempt from having other issues. It sounds silly to write, but that’s how I feel in my skewed way of thinking.

Nevertheless, the next moment I found myself laughing in the doctor’s office. I’ve danced around this subject several times in recent columns but haven’t had a comprehensive overview of what’s going on until now. Though my doctor had been diligent in keeping track of my health, as with most diagnoses, finding the root cause of my symptoms took time.

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Humor helps me cope

The journey began seven years ago, when I started experiencing bouts of vestibular migraines. The only symptom that presented was my trusty companion vertigo. A few months ago, the vertigo became more consistent and chronic in my daily life. Until then, the bouts I had were always manageable and corrected themselves with time. Alas, I couldn’t ignore these new symptoms and knew I needed to seek medical help.

After several trips to the doctor, a three-week stint with regular migraine symptoms (in addition to vertigo), and an intravenous steroid infusion that worked only temporarily, my doctor felt confident in diagnosing me with migraines.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed about this. After all, I have a long road ahead in terms of finding the safest and most effective treatment plan for me. At the same time, though, I’m still giggling at the unusual nature of my situation.

Humor helps me cope during tough times. It’s a mechanism I use to relieve stress and release my sense of control in overwhelming and daunting situations. I know this diagnosis isn’t a matter to take lightly. My persistent symptoms remind me of that daily. However, living with a rare disease and one of the most common diseases at once is something that makes me laugh. I love how the rarity of my SMA sharply contrasts with the commonality of my migraines. It feels like a humorous balance to my chronically ill life.

In the face of adversity, laughter has become my best medicine. With its physiological benefits, including reducing stress and sometimes alleviating pain, laughter is an invaluable tool in my SMA toolkit. It reminds me that there is room for humor even in my most challenging moments. It allows me to make heavy situations feel a bit lighter.

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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