This is not a cry for sympathy for yours truly. But I really want to write about my migraine on Sunday. In the 52 years I’ve darkened people’s doorways on this planet I’ve never had anything like that before. It even topped the infamous “airplane stroke” headache. (That’s the one where I went right from the airport to CAT Scan machine because I was sure I’d had a stroke.)
I’ve always had migraines but didn’t realize that’s what they were until about a year ago. On the flight to Florida I was fine until we were on final approach. I was paralyzed with a blinding headache that came on suddenly. I couldn’t even reach the call button for the flight crew. After spending several hours with some very nice people at the Fort Meyers Hospital and getting my head examined (way overdue in the opinion of many) in the wake of the plane ride, I was sent to a neurologist to get looked at more closely. Diagnosis? Migraine headaches. Cluster headaches. Ugly shirt (I don’t always dress as well as I should.)
I remember having those headaches even as a little kid but just figuring that everyone must deal with that agony. I remember writing them off, even at an early age, to “needing a new eyeglass prescription.” Never in a million years did I think that I had migraines.
And that’s a good thing. I’d have missed out on being a cop, joining the navy, meeting my wife, etc.etc.etc., if I’d admitted to anyone that I had those darned things with that name. I just figured everyone had them.
I was never fully disabled by them like some people I know, and that’s a blessing. I do remember really struggling to get through the day and keep my attention focused on the tasks at hand. I spent a lot of years with my eyes closed to avoid bright light. I’m still pretty photophobic most of the time, I prefer to work over nights and have the overhead lights turned out. Seems I can handle sunlight and love to be out of doors, but only if I’m not trying to read anything or focus on a task that requires any visual acuity. If I can drift my attention off the page I’m doing fine. If I’m in the shade, I’m fine. But bright times using my vision to accomplish a task is a loser. Seems to provoke that demon from afar, causing the pain in my head to blossom.
Sunday’s headache started out like most of them do, a feeling like someone was trying to jab an ice pick up through the area just behind my left eybrow, just left of center, at an angle of about 20 degrees off horizontal. This results in the eye feeling like it’s under pressure and wants to distort. I will involuntarily reach out to cover the eye and usually wince. It’s bad, but I know it will get worse.
Sunday I took my medication because this one set off warning bells right out of the chute. The bottle says take 1-2 tablets. I chewed two tablets as quickly as I could to get them into my system right away. And the wait begins. Does the medication get there before the headache exceeds the tolerance level.
This happened about an hour before church. I was nauseous from the pain walking out the door to go to church, and the daylight hit me like a board in the face. I covered my eyes until I could get to the car and get my shades on my nose. That helped a lot. Inside the cool, quiet car it wasn’t too bad.
The drive to church was not too horrible, but within moments of hitting the sanctuary the ice pick started to move around and was replaced by a chisel. That was driven into my head about two inches. And then Satan just sat and pounded on the end of it for the next two hours.
I prayed, I begged Jesus for remission of the pain, I sat with my eyes closed and gave my full submission to God. I was helpless. I had never had one quite that bad before. I don’t think I had my eyes open more than ten minutes in the two hours we were there for services.
Just before the end of the service The Pain lifted. It was not a departure that left me dancing in the aisles, it was more like the chisel was removed and cotton was packed into the wound. I didn’t feel good, no appetite, no joy. I was numb.
We had to stop at the store on the way home to get some things for lunch. I might as well have been a zombie wandering the aisles. I’d already been shot in the head, now I just had to drop. Things were just a “beat off” but I made it through the store.
Driving? I put my all into it and was suitably aware. I’ve been dealing with these things for decades. When we got home I had planned on writing in the beautiful sunshine out in the yard. Instead I camped in the darkened living room and vegged over television.
My appetite came back a few hours later but I was completely exhausted. I kept dozing off for a few seconds at a time. I finally threw in the towel and went to bed at 8pm. I slept for ten hours.
I woke up Monday somewhat better, but my head was still dully sore. This was one for the records.
I guess the reason I wrote this today was so that if you know someone with migraines, please don’t think they’re exaggerating the misery. I’m one of the toughest people I know in terms of just getting through adversity. I broke my foot a few weeks ago (turned out it wasn’t just the toe….) and went to work. Gut it out, get it out, work it out. I whine more than many, but I’ve got to get whatever it is done.
But Sunday all I wanted to do was take a great big narcotic and lay in a dark room until the pain quit. I didn’t, but the urge was there.
So, to all my fellow migraine victims, you have my sympathy. Now, it’s time for bed. I’ve been up almost 8 hours and that headache is starting to come back.