It was an honor to do my interview with Authority Magazine. They write about a wide variety of topics and never fail to inspire their readers. I was part of a series called Unstoppable: People Redefining Success with a Disability or Illness. I would like to share parts of my interview with you here and let you here more of my story. Through sharing our stories we encourage each other on this journey. This covers my diagnosis and some of the roller coaster. You can find the full interview at Unstoppable: How Lindsey de los Santos Of migraineroad.com Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Epilepsy & Migraines.
An interview with Kelly Reeves
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I live a blessed life now, but it took me some time to get to this place. My story includes many things to be thankful for in the midst of trauma and an invisible illness. In my first marriage I experienced abuse and during this time I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I was having headaches then and had actually had them since I was 15, but had never been given a clear diagnosis. During that marriage the circumstances and my seizures took the focus. My migraine attacks were not the main concern at that time.
Upon leaving I went from having seizures all the time to having one in the last sixteen years. It was determined that the stress in my home was triggering my seizures. That reveals the impact of my situation and speaks to the need for us to make decisions to protect our wellbeing. Do not be afraid to make a change to protect yourself or those you love. Those experiences helped me find courage I didn’t think I had and I learned a lot about myself as a person.
My health journey has included some challenges and I have drawn on that strength. I have continued to grow as well. Migraine has been a part of my story for 30 years, but over time what that has looked like has changed dramatically. In the early stages my migraines were managed by medication, but the migraine beast came out as time went on.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill?
Upon leaving my first marriage I moved to a new city and had a fresh start. I was able to create a life worth living with a hopeful future. I didn’t know what all would lie ahead, but I knew I had made it to the other side. I had a chance at a life of peace and real love.
At this time my seizures were under control and have remained so since then. I sought treatment from a neurologist for my headaches and was given my official migraine diagnosis. It was amazing to have a name and plan for this illness. My migraine attacks seemed to respond well to abortive medications when I had an attack and I could then go back to life after I had treated them at home. I was thankful for this. This allowed me to teach, build new friendships, and meet my new husband.
For some time, my migraines were controlled, but it is often a road that has unexpected or unwanted turns. I had some greater struggles at times, but continued to work with my doctor. I found this to be so important. It is this constant communication that is so valuable to your health.
My husband and I were so excited when we received the news we were expecting our first child. I was a little nervous at what that would mean for my migraines. With my first pregnancy my migraines improved, but my neurologist warned they could come back with a vengeance.
He was right and we had to work for awhile to get them under control. Fortunately, we were able to manage them for a little while. We had been blessed with our first child and so thankful for our life together. I realized I had more love in my heart than I could have ever imagined.
My migraines seemed to increase again as time went on and then my rescue meds were not able to control them. I started ending up in the emergency room. It was there that the doctors noticed a pattern and helped me connect some of my migraine attacks to my monthly cycle. This created a great conversation and partnership between my neurologist and primary care physician.
Controlling that trigger worked for a while, but over time other triggers began to increase and my migraine attacks became more severe and frequent. I have eight triggers. Once again, I became a frequent flyer at the ER. At this time, I was trying to teach, care for our sweet little one, and we had been hoping to have a second child.
After many migraine attacks and hospital trips, including some admissions I had to go on short term disability. I was devastated. I couldn’t imagine being separated from my students for that long and now we were going to face the reality that we may not be able to try for more children.
I remember one day I was back and forth to the bathroom so many times that I finally just stayed on the bathroom floor, laying down, and praying. I was in so much pain and just felt defeated. I surrendered all there knowing that I just didn’t have anything in my control. I said, “I give.”
I wasn’t giving up on life. I was just admitting that I was not in complete control and I was willing to accept if my future looked different than I thought it would. We had tried so many different approaches to manage my migraines, and I just felt like I had to be at peace with whatever came next.
What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
I heard a voice saying I’m not done yet. My faith has carried me through my life. I knew I was at a low, but I also knew that I had faced some really hard times before. We had been blessed with one precious baby and I knew that we had more than many. I didn’t feel I could be sad. I tried to make peace with whatever came next.
I then found out we were expecting! That felt like a miracle in itself. I felt humbled to have the blessing when I had so much going on and yet so very thankful for how much I had been given. I even felt a little guilty for being given this blessing. I was determined to take every step I could to listen to God, my doctors, and my family.
I felt called to be a mom, wife, and teacher. Migraine threatened to take all that away. I decided that was not going to happen and I am still fighting to live the life I feel called to live. So many have given that up, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?
Do not lose hope and do not give up trying to find what works for you. Each person is different. This journey is a lifelong one and it has evolved over time. What I have learned is that I must be diligent in my own advocacy and appreciate each blessing in my life.
Also, give yourself grace. It is ok to need time or a break. That doesn’t make us less. It makes us human and I find being real with people helps us connect better. In addition to this find your people. The ones who will encourage you and accept you for who you are. We all need these people.
Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.
1 . People with physical limitations want to be included and invited.
Things may look different for them or they may have to step out at times, but they don’t want to be left out.
2 . They aren’t looking for someone to solve their problems.
There likely is no cure for the limitation or illness, but they are fighting for the life they feel called to live. Cheering people on is what matters and makes the biggest difference.
3 . People with a disability or illness don’t want to intrude on anyone else.
They will try to think through each situation and find a way to do things themselves. Give grace, have honest conversations, and know they are doing the best they can.
4 . There is always hope.
Some days may seem to look discouraging, but the journey is always worth the struggles. Our vision must be to look for the light and to find our story in it.
5 . A physical limitation could create the space for an unexpected gift.
Perhaps the person with the disability or illness can connect with someone or make a difference in a way someone else might not be able to. This is because we all have a place and a purpose.
Here more of my story about pregnancy in Migraine with Pregnancy: Questions and Heart Strings. Reach out on the contact page or join the Facebook group for more conversation and support. You are welcome anytime here for support and encouragement.