Sometimes, but more often these days, I imagine a moment like this one:
Doctor’s office, one afternoon, tests done, consultation ongoing
Me: What do you mean? That’s it. That’s what’s been causing these massive headaches all along?
Dr.: Yes. That’s it.
Me: So if we remove (insert obstruction here) from (insert any body part here), I’ll never get another migraine again?
Dr.: Yes. That is correct.
Me: I’ll never have another debilitating day, wasted away spent in bed, in the dark, with absolute quiet and ice packs all over my face?
Dr.: This is the idea, yes.
Me: I’ll never have to feel like a fat nail is being hammered into one side of my head, sometimes, my eye?
Dr.: Um, yes, I mean, no, no more nails.
Me: I’ll never have to pray that I wake up without the throbbing, pulsating pain that no medicine and only time can melt away?
Me: No more folding like a director’s chair, or squirming from feeling like your skull is being squished by two elepantes and squinting in agony from natural light or tickling my throat to vomit like a bulimic to release pressure from the capillaries or veins or whatever is ready to burst from stress or fatigue or lack of sleep or cheese or chocolate or red wine?
Dr.: Really? Two elepantes? But yes, all that over and done with. You can get on with your life, elephant and migraine free.
Me: Wow! That’s awesome. I should have consulted with you ages ago. Circa 1970-something when I was, like, five years old. Thanks, doc.
fade to black, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. She wakes up from her dream.
With a migraine
It’s true. I’m one of the lucky ones afflicted with these skull crushing, debilitating, oppressive headaches from hell. I started having them at a very young age and they have not left my life since. Nothing helped. Not surviving cancer, discovering yoga, seeing three, no four, neurologists, changing my bras, simplifying my life, not drinking red wine — none of these things stood a chance against the wrath of the one sided, clawing pain, drilling in between your eyes headache. As a kid they would arrive often because of hunger and my not eating on time. But as an adult, it has evolved into a completely different beast all together. It comes from nowhere, arrives uninvited, and like a malicious stalker in heat, goes for the kill and won’t leave until you surrender to the pain, wrapped in a blanket, flat in the dark, praying that when you wake up, it’s gone. In the meantime, one side of your head feels like raw meat being pounded by Thor’s meat malet and nothing gives you comfort — not the many grandmother menthol things, not the ice packs, not the cold AC, not the quiet, not even the tears pooling in your ducts, which slowly roll down your cheek, onto your pillow. You do feel grateful for the darkness. But you can’t move. You can’t open your eyes. You whisper gibberish to no one, to the air maybe, for the pain to please end. You nurse your attacker as it demands all your attention. You ignore all text messages, all kinds of ringing because lifting your lids means suffering and usually, if you are a good girl, you wake up hours later and it is gone. Poof.
Is it genetic? I don’t think so. My dad never gets them and my mom, well she says and I quote her, “I have no idea what you mean when you say you are suffering from these/this headache/s…I’ve never had them, don’t know what it feels like at all.” No fail. This is what she says. All the time. What triggers them? Different things – food, stress, self-loathing, fatigue, lack of sleep, over thinking/over analysis, looking at a computer screen for too long, not writing, procrastinating and yeah, stress. Sometimes, when deadlines or workshops come up, I know a migraine will hit me smack in the face but those are just self fulfilled prophecies.
Anyway, they come and go. Months I am lucky, they don’t come at all. But these days, since I arrived from the beach, they have paid me a visit almost everyday. Sometimes when I wake up, other times, right in the middle of a conversation, in the middle of the day. So far, I have wasted a good week put together if I add up all the days hit by this debilitating condition. I am at my wits’ end and frankly, am tired of the oppression, the powerlessness, the wasted time and the mystery behind why I get them at all, and why I have been getting them so often these days. Which brings me to why I imagined that doctor scene recently again and over and over again. I am praying for a cure. A way out. I want to stand up to this bully but I don’t know how. And yes, the frustration of having migraines, is well, giving me more migraines. Sigh.
I wish I had an upbeat ending for this post but I don’t. I think until a doctor tells me that all he has to do is “remove (insert obstruction here) from (insert any body part here)” then the upbeat ending might be possible. Until then, I will have to imagine/dream up that awesome moment in the doctor’s office and well, suspend my disbelief.
Thanks for listening.
grateful slice: writing and to everyone who gets these headaches…you are not alone!