21 August 2016

Coping with Debilitating Migraines - Guest Post



CFP: Melissa Jagears' friend, Karen, shares her guest testimony today with us, about coping with severe debilitating migraines.

MJ: Karen Riekeman is a friend of mine who was subjected to me rattling on and on about A Heart Most Certain while I was writing it. During the process, I realized her testimony would work well for one of my secondary characters, Bernadette Wisely. But anyone who knew that we knew each other would likely catch the similarities, so thankfully Bernadette gave me permission to play with her testimony for this book. I figured her story was quite the “Overcoming with God” story, and she was gracious enough to share. Hopefully, someone will be encouraged by the real story behind one of my secondary characters. 

Here’s Karen:

I am wife to Budg Riekeman, a mother of three, a legal secretary, a sometimes decorator, and a pastor’s wife who lives in a small town in Kansas.

In a similar way to Bernadette’s character, I struggled with my relationship with the Lord for many years. I lacked a vibrant relationship with Him and was not able to give much of an example to others of what a close relationship with the Lord looked like. Due to my own lack of discipline, parenting three children, the work that goes into ministering in small churches, and relying on my years in the church as a crutch, I managed to go for years with very little one-on-one time with the Lord. I was saved at the age of 16 and knew such a transformation at that time that I knew that I was saved and that I was loved by Him, but I couldn’t seem to buckle down and make myself be disciplined enough to meet with Him each day. I would have moments where I would determine to be more disciplined and a few periods where I did manage to grow in Him for a time but, on the whole, I grew very little over those first 20 years in ministry. Oh, I could fake it really well. I knew the prayers that needed to be prayed in public; I knew the right answers in Sunday School; I knew where the verses were to be found in the Bible; I taught in Sunday School classes; led in Vacation Bible School; organized retreats and women’s ministry events, but they weren’t backed up with any kind of vibrancy in my relationship with Jesus.


We had the privilege of ministering in sweet churches in Texas, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota and now Kansas. The people were wonderful and we felt loved and cherished in each place. I had good friends and cherished memories from each church. My husband was growing by leaps and bounds in his faith and trust in the Lord in each place, and I would look at him with such envy, but it didn’t spur me much to be disciplined myself. It was the same way you look at someone who is in good shape and envy that they can jog without stopping to catch their breath but you don’t have the discipline to get in shape yourself.

In August of my 40th year, I came down with a severe headache that would end up lasting for about 7 months with little to no relief. I had never been diagnosed with migraines before that time, so it came as a surprise to me that the final diagnosis was migraines. However, no medication seemed to help and few things brought any relief during that time. Even when you are in pain, life goes on and the kids were in sports and school events and I still needed to work, so I coped but each day was a struggle. I would go to bed at night grateful that sleep would bring some form of freedom from the pain. However, I would wake up in the early hours of the morning in so much pain that I would crawl out of bed to sit in the recliner in the living room. I sought the Lord in His Word and in prayer for relief from the pain and for hope for my future.

Because of the earliness of the hour and the quiet in our house, I had time for the Lord like never before. I worked through Bible studies and I read through the Psalms over and over as they brought me such comfort. Sometime during those months, I began to fall in love with Jesus. I loved that it was just He and I in the quiet and solitude, and I knew He was there to meet with me. I felt His presence and I knew like never before how loved I was. He met me in His Word and began to give me verses that promised me hope and that He would never leave me. He gave me the courage to face each day and to find my sufficiency in Him alone. It was still hard, I was still in pain, but Jesus became my source of strength. Sometimes the words just seemed to jump off the page at me and I knew they were directly for me.

By March of the next year, the pain began to ease and the worst of the headache ended but by then I was so in love with Jesus I couldn’t stop meeting with Him. My girlfriends really noticed the difference and often commented on how different I was from before. My Sunday school classes were different and Bible studies with groups were more meaningful and I had truth to share like never before.

I still live with the migraines. I wasn’t miraculously healed. It has been over 10 years and I continue to deal with them. Sometimes for weeks at a time but they’ve never gone on for months like before. I’ve learned that Jesus is sufficient for whatever we face; to have compassion on those who are hurting; to be grateful for “good” days; to trust Him on “bad” days; to believe Him and to trust Him whatever the day brings; and that I never want to go back to how I was before.


Similar to Bernadette, ministry is different now because it springs from my relationship with Jesus. I don’t do what I think others want me to do, but instead I do what I believe He is calling me to, using the gifts and the talents He has given me.

CFP: Thank you for sharing with us, Karen! I suffered from a six month migraine following a car wreck. Thank God mine resolved but I do still get them (I never had before.) In my latest novella, my hero suffers from severe migraines, too, which plays into the storyline. I'm looking forward to reading Melissa's latest novel, and bet her story is wonderful. Blessings to both of you!

Giveaway: A copy of Melissa Jagear's A Heart Most Certain and a copy of my newest novella, Tea Shop Folly.  
Answer this question (and leave your email address if you aren't a regular here): Have you ever suffered from chronic headaches and how did God help you cope?

41 comments:

  1. I have never suffered from chronic headaches, but my mom and sister have had some really bad headaches and migranes.
    Elly -Indiana-
    jcservantslaveATicloudDOTcom

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    1. Hi elly! I am glad you've not had to suffer from headaches. Praying for your mom and sister!

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  2. I would love to read both of these books!! I am an avid reader. I don't have headaches, but last 3 yrs. have had sacrum/lumbar issues to cause lots of pain. Epidurals have helped, but now the doctor wants to do surgery. I have to put it off though due to dh health. I pray for anyone I know in pain!!

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    1. Hi Jackie! We'd love for you to read these books! So sorry about your back pain! Praying!

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  3. Thankfully I do not suffer from migraines. My hubby has a headache most of the time due to a head injury in college. The Lord has healed some of it, but he still his days when he can hardly function. I injured my wrist playing basketball in high school, and suffered from constant pain until, after 6 previous surgeries, a solution was available in 2009. A seventh surgery has taken that constant pain away, but every now and again, my wrist will hurt just a little, as if to remind me of those who suffer all the time.
    Thanks for sharing some of your journey, Karen!

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    1. Wow what a blessing that your surgeries healed your wrist pain, Betti! PTL!!! Sorry about hubs' headaches. Praying!

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  4. Oh my yes I suffer from migraines! My grandpa had them so bad they cut the nerves on the right side of his face, my dad had them, I do, all 3 of my kids (2 daughters and 1 son) get them, and 4 of my granddaughters do (one was diagnosed at the age of 2). The youngest granddaughter doesn't show any signs of them yet, praise God! My grandsons don't seem to get them yet either. I take my migraine pills, stay quiet and pray that the headache will go away quickly.

    wfnren at aol dot com

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    1. Sorry you and your family go through that. We have them in my family, too, Wendy. Yikes about your grandpa having to have the nerves on his face cut!

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  5. I am very thankful that I have never had migraines. Pain is such a terrible thing and for those that suffer, I am so sorry and the power of prayer is great. I pray for those in pain.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. I am glad you haven't had to cope with migraines, either, Melanie! Prayer is a powerful thing!

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  6. I do suffer migraines. I've had a headache for a week now, some days more difficult than others. Last Monday was the worst of this current headache-- did not accomplish anything that day! Most of the time I just keep moving and keep doing whatever is necessary. There were a couple of days that all I accomplished was Bible study and a little laundry or just feeding my family. Between Bible study and a very supportive husband, God provides all I need.

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    1. So sorry you are suffering with these migraines, Ladette. They are scary when they last that long. I went through a long spell of them last year like that. Thankfully they finally let up! Praying all improves!

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  7. I have and take a medication for them now. Nancycooks4u(gmail)dot(com)

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    1. It is good there are better medications and methods today for handling migraines.

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  8. I struggle frequently with migraines. I'm learning to live with them.I really appreciate Karen's testimony.

    Jillhoke@gmail.com

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    1. We are grateful Karen shared her testimony with us, Jill. Praying for you!

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  9. I have a friend who suffers from migraines. They get so bad she ends up in hospital.


    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. I had a young client like that when I was a psychologist, Mary, who ended up in the hospital. And I have a friend who has had that happen. That is really awful.

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  10. Thank God, He healed me of migraines when I was in my early twenties. I rarely even have a minor headache now. I defnitely want to read Melissa's book, A Heart Most Certain. I loved Tea Shop Folly, Carrie. Will you have a sequel for this novella?
    marilynridgway78[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. PTL, Marilyn!!! I'm praying Melissa's book comes out in audiobook before long. My new novella will be part of The Christy Cousins collection. So eventually there will be two more novellas or short novels in that collection! Thanks for asking!

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  11. Thank you SO much for the interview, Carrie, Karen, and Melissa! Wow. So much in your testimony resonated with me Karen. Not in the aspect you might think re migraines, but in the journey of your relationship with the Lord. I was at that place once of being on the 'mountain-top' with God after a 21 day fast of denying other things and spending 3 hours a day with God. I was the 'athlete' and couldn't understand why others in my family weren't also encouraged to experience what I was experiencing. Hearing you explain about envying the 'athlete' but not having the discipline yourself, was enlightening. There was also something else you wrote that's confirmation of something I've been praying about and thinking about a lot lately. So thank you SO much for sharing, and I will pray those headaches will become a distant memory!! I'm very thankful I don't have migraines as such, but I do occasionally get bad headaches from my neck that can go on for a few days. God bless you!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Noela! PTL you don't have migraines Aussie Angel.

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    2. I know that Karen will be happy to know that perhaps her testimony was meant for confirming something you've been praying about. I love it when I occasionally trip over blog posts "meant" for just me.

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  12. I have chronic sinus headaches. I now take medication that helps.
    jeanna_massman(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. Thank you Karen,Carrie ,and Melissa for this inspiring post. I don't suffer with headaches,but had a family member that did. (Found out it was related to high blood pressure and was prescribed medicine for it.) I'm sorry that you suffer and will pray for you,God Bless! lynnefeuerstein(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. I've heard of high blood pressure causing bad headaches, Lynne. Good they found out!

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  14. Karen, thank you for your inspiring testimony.

    I was first diagnosed with migraines at age 17 when I lost my sight for most of the day...scary! (my grandfather went blind in his early 30's and what he had is hereditary and I thought I had it...thank God I did not!). I have had migraines as long as weeks and weeks with no relief. In addition to the visual effects I get a lot of neuro problems with them. Weather changes are one of migraine triggers for me. I do have medication that helps somewhat. Like you, I love the Psalms and God's promises and love help me to cope.

    Congratulations on your book Melissa and your novella Carrie! I have read both and loved them!

    Blessings, Tina

    ....p.s...I am not entering the contest....

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    1. I am so sorry you suffer these severe headaches, sweet Tina! that had to have been terrifying to lose your sight! Praying you get even more relief from the headaches. Thanks!!! Hugs!

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  15. What a special testimony of how God reached in to meet her in such a hard time! Yes, I've had migraines and they are awful! Can't imagine one lasting 7 mos. My daughter has them too and more frequently, hard to deal with as she starts her nursing career. She likes the verse about God's grace being sufficient, His power shing through in our weakness.
    Would like to read the book and novella. Have both on my tbr list. Thank you.
    kjrochon40(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. Hi Karen! I pray God heals you and your daughter. I agree, God's grace is sufficient and His strength and power do shine through when He enables us to do what we cannot do, through Him.

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  16. Thank you so much for being with us this week on OWG and sharing your inspiring testimony, KAREN! God knows how to get our attention and draw us closer, doesn't He? I suffered terribly in my younger years from migraines and they dissipated, PTL! I recently suffered a looong one after visiting the ENT Dr and having a simple procedure done. Now I seem to be back to having smaller ones which stem from my neck and don't last as long. I hope and pray your days of having migraines will soon be a thing of the past, Karen!

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    1. So glad your migraine cleared up again, Angel Girl! That was awful. Hugs!

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  17. KAREN, thank you so much for sharing your testimony. You have shown us that HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. May He continue to draw you close.

    I've never had a migraine.
    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

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  18. Thanks so much, Karen, for sharing your story. I have had migraines and they are no fun at all! Mine seem to be seasonal/allergy related. I have found that taking 1-2 teaspoons of honey each day has helped tremendously. The honey has to be pure organic honey made within a 60 mile radius from where you live, as it helps build a resistance to the pollen and allergies in your area. Hardships definitely have a way of drawing us to Jesus and continued reliance on Him. Thanks so much for these giveaways, Melissa and Carrie! I can't wait to read both of your books!
    They both sound amazing!!! ~Alison

    nj(dot)bossman(at)gmail(dot)com

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  19. I am not 59 years old and on July 5, 2005 I got a headache that nothing relieved. I was beginning perimenopause at the time, skipping about 4 periods a year, so I knew that this could possibly be the reason. I never had headaches. I went to the doctor, had testing, even a CT scan of my head. They tried different meds, including tricyclic antidepressants to raise my pain threshhold. Nothing worked and they were so sedative even at half the lowest dose, I couldn't continue with them. I was finally prescribed Fioricet which worked most of the time. I've had headaches that lasted 21 days! Go to bed with a headache, wake up with a headache. It's 11 years later and they're still coming. Every time I have a new round of bad hot flahes, back come the headaches. I'm seriously hoping they will stop once this is totally over. I just pray and ask God to give me strength and every time I think I am going to just go nuts, He steps in and gives me more strength to go on. And each night, when I lay my head on the pillow, I can thank God for grace and strength to get through another day. Praise His Name.
    Susan Snodgrass
    TSL9Snodgrass(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hi Susan! At least those headaches will be good for a couple of things -- two books that you WON on this blog post! Congrats! Praying God gives you good relief from your headaches!

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  20. This was a sad but very good interview Karen. I have had spells of the Christian problem like you. Not feeling pin contact with GOD as I should be but I know I am a child of HIS and just keep talking to HIM. I haven't had the migraines but have some daughters who do. I have suffered with headaches for a long period of time from a neck problem, no fun for sure. I have suffered extreme pain for over a year now which became constant every day with little stopping on some days and I always thanked GOD for any time o9f relief. I thought was going to have to maybe have Rotator Cuff surgery but the pain was all of my left arm like was the muscles and tendons. Finally had an MRI recently and he said had some arthritis but have inflamed tendons. I try to keep doing things but can't force over my head it makes such awful pain. He told me to do exercise but never gave me any instructions or pain medicine. GOD does still give me some times of relief foe awhile but can't begin to raise over my head, It is extreme torture. Just try to remember it could be worse things . GOD bless you all. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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  21. No, thankfully I've never suffered from chronic headaches. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    ckbarker at gmail dot com

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  22. I've had chronic migraines all my life. They've lessened some since I cut milk out of my diet. My bigger deal is dealing with my Multiple Sclerosis. It's hard some days. There's been many times that I think that God might have given it to me to keep me centered on needing Him.
    katherineDOTlDOTgoodATgmailDOTcom

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