Yesterday I had a day-long, as in, from the moment I woke up at dawn til I finally slipped into blessed unconsciousness just before midnight, migraine.
The first time I ever had an actual, full-on, NO THIS IS NOT JUST A HEADACHE, THANK YOU, migraine, was when I was in my senior year of college. In the middle of film class while I was squinting at a grainy 1940s drama, trying to ignore a dull throbbing behind my left eye, I experienced a sudden sensation not dissimilar, I imagine, to what one would experience upon having a rusty iron spike driven into one's skull.
I saw rainbow halos around Gene Tierney. Not the pretty kind of rainbow halos either. I'm talking about the thug kind of rainbow halos that dismember fluffy baby bunny rabbits and send the baby bunny rabbit pieces to you anonymously through the mail, postage due.
I slunk out of the lecture hall and staggered to the women's restroom, convinced I was going to hurl. What was wrong with me? Was I dying? Was it a brain aneurism? (I always knew I'd die tragically of a brain aneurism before I hit 25-- I just KNEW it!)
I wasn't dying, of course. I was being hazed. For initiation into the exclusive club of migraine sufferers. Ah, joy.
The migraines continued, at first randomly, then weekly, then, at the worst point, almost daily, for nearly six months. They seemed connected somehow to my vision; they were often triggered when watching movies on a big screen (so much for that "A" I was hoping for in film class) or when I spent more than an hour straight working at my computer. I saw several specialists and asked repeatedly whether my extreme nearsightedness might be a factor, and whether getting a new eyeglasses prescription or having corrective surgery on my eyes might provide some relief. A general practitioner, a neuro-opthamologist, and two optometrists all told me it would not.
I cut chocolate, coffee, tea, balsamic vinegar, parmesean cheese, asiago cheese, and wine out of my diet. I changed my sleep patterns. I tried to meditate. I took long baths. I took long walks. Nothing helped.
Then my glasses broke, and I got a new pair. The headaches all but disappeared.
I started eating chocolate again immediately, and attempted mightily not to wish chocolate-triggered migraines on all of my doctors.
Since then my migraines have been blessedly rare. As long as I keep my eyeglasses prescription up-to-date, I can go months at a time without experiencing one. Sometimes I even start to think they might never be coming back.
So, at first, yesterday morning, when I woke with a dully throbbing head, I tried to convince myself it was not a migraine. I was sniffly when I woke up in the morning, so I thought, hey, this is a sinus headache. I'll take a hot steamy shower and drink some peppermint herbal tea. That will clear up my sinuses, and the headache will disappear.
Around lunchtime, as the dull throbbing became more of a shrill hum, I realized I hadn't been getting much sleep the past few nights. Maybe it was a sleep-deprivation headache! Miraculously, my son fell asleep in my lap with no fuss whatsoever shortly after lunch. I decided to take a little nap with him on the futon.
When I woke up, my headache was worse.
Suddenly it occurred to me-- I'd had caffeinated tea or coffee every morning for the past five days until that morning, when, silly me, I'd tried to clear up my sniffles with herbal tea. Of course! It was a caffeine withdrawal headache. That was it. Look at me, an addict. What a terrible habit, making myself dependent on a certain drink ingredient every day to function. I told myself I would have to cut back on the caffeine. Right after I made myself a nice big steaming stoutly brewed cup of Earl Grey. To wash down some Extra-Strength Tylenol.
My headache stayed.
My husband came home to find me languishing in a chair under dimmed lights with my eyes half-closed while our half-naked child traipsed gleefully through our uncleaned house wantonly scattering plastic toys. Shortly after he arrived I shut myself in our bedroom, locked the door, and hid under the covers of my canopy bed, without a word.
Oh yes, Migraine was back, and Migraine was determined to punish me for forgetting that I am one of Migraine's Chosen Sufferers.
One of these days, I am going to figure out a way to kick that bitch Migraine's ass out of town.
As long as it does not involve giving up chocolate.