So for the Migraine Monologues book club this time we decided to take a break from trying to digest a whole book and set ourselves an easier task of reading the essay by Virginia Woolf (a migraine sufferer) called On Being Ill and a film to watch called Love and Other Drugs.
I watched Love and Other Drugs tonight before the book club discussion in a couple of weeks. The film is a rom com about a womanising drug rep (Jake Gyllenhaal) and an early-onset Parkinson's girl he meets (Anne Hathaway).
With this being about Parkinson's rather than migraines, which is a degenerative disease which different challenges to migraines, I wasn't expecting it to have much relevance to my life and to migraines.
Turns out I was wrong
Maggie (the character played by Anne Hathaway) is taking a bucketload of pills every day to manage her symptoms and having a nightmare just trying to keep on top of getting the prescriptions from her neurologist and getting the prescriptions filled out at the pharmacy. I struggle with this too and in fact just managed to pick up a big bag of my pills yesterday just before I ran out of some and just before my current pre-pay prescription card ran out. Boots always ask me if I want to use their repeat prescription but how much of what meds changes so much this isn't practical, as I'm usually trialling preventatives and working out what dosage of things to be on and the meds for what I have an attack obviously depends on how many attacks I'm having as to when I need more of those.
I have a pill pouch which lives in my handbag and has a compartment for each day and one extra which I use for my attack meds and at 9 pills a day, refilling this pouch is a lengthy task every week and leaves me loathing blister packs as my fingers are actually sore by the end of popping all of those pills out of their plastic jackets.
I really felt for my migraine brethren across the pond when Maggie was organising a coach for fellow sufferers to take them all to
where the drugs they need are cheaper.
As much as I hate having to pay for my prescriptions on the NHS, at
least with the pre-pay cards I know exactly how much I'm going to be paying and
when no matter how many prescriptions I need and this part of the film really
made me both appreciate this option here and still resent having to pay
prescription charges for long term medications to treat my own incurable problem.
The Brave Face really stood out to me in this film as something I can very much relate to. Maggie is putting on a brave face to Jamie (the character played by Jake Gyllenhaal) a lot of the time that they're together in their relationship as I've written about before, I put on a brave face so much of the time with so many people. She said she has no energy and can't go out and do things and I very much related to this as well. I feel I hold back my husband from doing so much with his time because I'm just not able to do things that other people do without thinking. Even simple things like a trip to Tesco means that I can't do anything else at all in the same evening if I don't want to trigger a migraine and as someone who used to rarely spend a night in I find that one of the most frustrating things about my condition.
The part of the film where I really started to cry buckets though, was when they went to a medical convention and she found the 'UNConvention' across the road for Parkinson's sufferers. People there were standing up and talking about the frustrations of their condition with a sense of humour and a real feeling of solidarity. Those people talking about the way simple everyday things are just too difficult hit home a lot with me but Maggie's reaction after she left there of just feeling elated at meeting people who understand what she's going through on such a different level than anyone else possibly could. She was so incredibly happy to just be able to talk to and listen to other people who suffered like she does and this is exactly how I felt at the beginning of this year when I found other sufferers on Twitter and it's a feeling I really can't describe very well. I never imagined that there was this huge hole in my life until it was suddenly filled.
When Maggie breaks up with Jamie to save him to pain of having to be with someone suffering on an every day level like she does, I was feeling very much for my husband who never signed up to this when he met me and I had never had migraines at that point. I have often thought and sometimes said to him that his life would have been so much better if I hadn't have walked into it but he has insisted that it wouldn't have been but I still can't help but feel this is case.
I'm really glad we had this film as a book club assignment and I'm tempted to ask others to watch it whilst bearing in mind my condition.