The End of the Line

The End of the Line

Avengers

{ image via Marvel/The Wrap }

*Warning: Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead.*

22 movies. 11 years. And it all came down to this.

“Part of the journey is the end.”

– Tony Stark

If you are not yet privy to the international phenomena known as Avengers: Endgame, allow me to enlighten you. It is somewhat of an ending to a twenty-two film journey that has spanned multiple characters, storylines, and planets. All of it has been based on the comic books made by Marvel, and it has come to be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

I have never read a comic book in my life. I don’t think that makes me any less of a fan. I have just experienced these stories through a different medium.

The first movie I ever watched within the Marvel Cinematic Universe was The Avengers. It was 2012, the summer before I started middle school. I heard about this very hyped up movie, and I wanted to see it. I am fairly certain that I had never actually seen a superhero movie before in my life, but something about this one intrigued me. So, I went to see it with my dad. And that’s when things changed. I left the theater fascinated by these superheroes. There was a guy who loved America even more than me? And some guy from another planet whose brother kept causing problems? And a guy who was really good at archery? And, most surprising to me, a woman? It certainly wasn’t that I didn’t think a woman could be a superhero. (I had heard of DC’s Wonder Woman and Supergirl.) I had just never seen one before. So, in that way, Black Widow opened up a new, exciting door for me.

After that, it became my mission to watch every MCU film that had been released. Poor, young, tasteless Mary-Faith had some interesting opinions about which films were best. Thankfully, times have changed. But one thing never has – from the very first time I saw him, Captain America has been my favorite superhero. He has embodied the idea of a hero to me. I have loved Steve Rogers as much as I have loved Cap, and I loved him just as much pre-serum, when he was a little guy ready to fight a big bully.

Needless to say, I have seen all 22 films by now. Some have been better than others. (Personally, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and Thor: Ragnarok are the three I consider to be absolutely perfect.) But none of them have been just movies. Some have deeply affected me, like Black Panther, which started a new conversation about representation in film, and Captain Marvel, which was Marvel’s first female-led film. Some say fantasy is escapist, and maybe it is. But these characters have given me strength. If they can do that, then maybe I can do this.

If Wanda Maximoff can lose everyone she loves and fight those who have hurt her…

If Tony Stark can completely change who he is to become a better person…

If Carol Danvers can find her own power after being manipulated for years…

If Natasha Romanoff can accept her past and move on to find a better future with her new family…

If Steve Rogers can consistently choose honor and integrity, no matter what…

Avengers: Endgame was not the end of the road, but for some characters, it was. Watching this movie was a deeply emotional experience for me, as it was for millions of fans (and all of the people sitting around me in the theater who cried with me…shoutout to you guys). It’s been said that this movie is a gift to fans, and I agree with that. But it seems strange that Marvel would thank us when we should be thanking them.

For 22 films. For a new world. For laughs and smiles and tears. For characters to identify with and be inspired by. For stories that will never get old. For Natasha, who taught me to forgive. For Tony, who taught me to grow. For Steve, who taught me to love. Thank you.

“I used to be embarassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.”

– Stan Lee, Former Vice President of Marvel Comics

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My Migraine Journey

My Migraine Journey

mighty with migraine

{ #mightywithmigraine started on Instagram by @mindfulmigraine and @the_migraine_life }

June is Migraine Awareness Month. As someone whose life has been affected by chronic migraines in the worst way, migraine awareness is important to me year-round. But, I thought now would be a good time to share my own journey with migraines. Reading the stories of others who have experienced similar things often helps me, so I hope that maybe this can help you.

I had my first migraine when I was twelve. I had been sick with a bad viral illness, and my doctor thought that my migraine was perhaps caused by that. If only that had been the case. Instead, the migraines kept coming. I went to see a neurologist who diagnosed me and began treating me. That was the problem, though. I couldn’t really be treated. None of the medications he prescribed helped me. Or, in some cases, they caused such bad side effects that I was unable to continue taking them.

A few years after my initial migraine diagnosis, my neurologist noticed that my heart rate was a bit high. He decided to take orthostatic blood pressure readings, meaning I would have my blood pressure taken while lying down and then several times while standing up, with about ten minutes between each pressure. This showed that my heart rate increased upon standing, and even more the longer I stood up. He began talking to me about dysautonomia, and I later saw a cardiologist who diagnosed me with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition that affects circulation (blood flow). It involves the autonomic nervous system (which automatically controls and regulates vital bodily functions) and sympathetic nervous system (which activates the fight or flight response).”

POTS and migraines often go hand-in-hand. Many POTS patients report having migraines as well. As I’ve gotten older, my POTS symptoms have worsened. Simultaneously, my migraines have gotten worse as well.

Now, I have a constant headache. About two or three times a week, this headache intensifies to a full-blown migraine. Sometimes one of my migraines will last for a day or two, sometimes longer. I once had a continuous migraine that lasted for over a month. When a migraine goes on for more than seventy-two hours, my neurologist typically tries to treat it with steroids. If that doesn’t work, I go to the hospital for an IV infusion of multiple medications. This tends to provide some relief after a day or so.

I am not currently on effective treatment for my migraines. I am not exaggerating when I say I have tried every medication typically used for migraines. None of them have helped me. My abortive medicine that I take when I feel one coming on does not help. I have tried Botox, dry needling, and acupuncture to no avail. Recently, the FDA approved several new medications that all work in a similar way and are administered via injection once a month. They are the first true migraine medications (whereas other medicine used in migraine treatment is often anti-seizure, anti-depressant, etc.). I tried the first of the approved medications, Aimovig, for nine months. I only noticed minimal improvement during month two. Other than that, I experienced flu-like symptoms for a few days after the injection, among other side effects.

I think when people hear the word “migraine” they just think it’s a typical headache. They don’t think it’s a big deal. But chronic migraines have taken over my life. I spend most of my time in a dark room. A lot of time in bed. It can be hard to look at a screen or read sometimes, but I do it anyways, because if I stopped doing everything when I had a migraine, I would never do anything. If you talk to me on any given day, no matter how I look, I’m probably experiencing some kind of head pain.

I feel proud of myself for all that I do in spite of my migraines. I’ve gotten a college degree and I’m working on another. I’ve found things that I love to do that I can do when I’m not feeling great. I’ve found things that inspire me and help me keep going, even when it’s hard. I haven’t let migraines stop me, no matter how hard they try. I truly am mighty with migraine.