Monday, October 14, 2013

Migraine - What it Feels Like

 It starts innocent enough; just a little pain in the back of your head and neck as you ready yourself for bed.  It's minor, but enough to make you not want to sleep with any pressure on the area.  So you toss and turn and don't sleep well.
  Upon waking, the nagging pain is still there, but it's gotten a little worse.  You're laying still, trying to breathe deep, and telling yourself that it's not a migraine - it's just a headache and will go away.
  But the pounding is slowly spreading; starting in your chest and rising up towards your skull.  You know the moment you stand up, it will be like releasing the flood gates.  You don't have much of a choice however, as your family needs to be fed, house taken care or you've got a job to hang on to.
  You do your best to sit up slowly, every movement careful and calculated.  As you stand up and step out, you're careful to step toe-to-heel, as any type of jarring motion originating from your heel-strike may increase the pressure that is slowly building in your skull.
  Your eyes have that faint sparkly aura around the edges of your sight, with an occasional lightning bolt when you have to switch on a necessary light.  You muddle through only the most vital and unavoidable of your morning chores.  Every action takes twice as long to perform as your brain is fogged over from the pain.  Simple tasks such as wrapping your fingers around the handle of the coffee mug become as difficult as learning a new sport or art.  Eventually, you give up anything more complex than simply walking and staying upright.
  You swallow down medication with as little water as possible, since your stomach is churning vigorously.  Even the act of swallowing makes your gag reflex activate.  You try to sit still on the edge of your bed and allow the medication to work, but very quickly you realize that your situation is beyond help and is about to go from bad to horrific.

  The pain is dull and sharp at the same time.  A dull, pounding ache that starts at your neck and travels up the outside of your skull, ending in sharp points.  It's mostly one-sided, but it's hard to tell anymore as the pain is beginning to radiate.  It wraps around the side of your head and bores into your temple and eyes, as if it were some live creature trying to extract your brain. 
  There is more pain elsewhere - your skin.  It tingles and every touch or movement feels like you might catch fire at any moment.  Your whole body is tense and you can't help but wring your hands as you rock back and forth in place.  You fight the tears, because it will only make it worse.  
  Every train of thought, every word you try to speak and every movement is nearly impossible at this point. You can't answer questions with any more than a very slowly spoken yes or no - not because of the pain, but because your brain seems to have shut down.

  Here it comes.  You drag yourself or stagger into the bathroom and barely make it to the toilet.  You vomit until there's nothing left, and then you vomit more, because vomiting drives the pressure sky high, increases the pain and you become trapped in this vicious cycle.  During a brief reprieve you lay on the cool tile floor and beg the Lord to take you home now, because life is no longer worth living.  You can't think about the future, because it seems as though there is none.  When God doesn't instantly take you away, you can't help but watch your mind wander to thoughts of suicide.  After-all, it really does feel good as you're repeatedly jarring your skull with your palm.
  You don't know why you are even doing this, or when you started it, but for some reason, causing this superficial and mild pain clears the fog, just a bit.  You're tempted to hit harder or seek a hard surface to throw yourself against, but your self-preservation refuses to allow you - at this point anyways.
  The vomiting is done for now.  If you are blessed with a caretaker, they will probably drag you back to bed, and have to physically arrange your body into a comfortable position, as you have no more motor control - nor do you care.  You were actually quite happy on the the bathroom tile and would've just stayed there.
  From here, it could be hours or it could be days.  Clumsy trips to the bathroom if you can make it, enduring the dizziness while simply lying on your back, avoiding opening your eyes at all costs, and praying all the while that in one way or another,the pain would stop.

  When the migraine finally fades, you are left with the pain in your muscles and skin, as if you are bruised everywhere, and the brain-fog hangs on for a day or two.  You have to concentrate on all simple tasks again, as if you're a brain-damage victim re-learning everything.  Walking, eating, talking, etc.  Not to mention the fact that you are still tip-toeing around so as not to incite another episode.

  After another day or two, your psyche does you the favor of fading the memory (just like in child-birth, or any heavy-pain experience) in order to allow you to continue living.  You are probably ok for another week or two, maybe even a month, before you get another one.  Everyone wants to fix you, they all tell you to see a doctor and maybe you have a tumor.  But you've been to what seems like a million doctors, and despite all their old-fashioned or new-fangled or just plain crazy-weird treatments, you still suffer occasionally.
  There is nothing discernibly wrong with you, but there are a handful of diagnoses that can be thrown at you.  Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Auto-Immune, etc, etc, etc.  There are also a number of medications that can be given, all ranging from anti-depressants to anti-seizure meds.  The docs will straight up tell you that they don't know why they work but they do.  Sometimes they do work, sometimes they don't and many times the side-effects aren't always worth it.
  After a while, a migraine-sufferer accepts their given circumstances and gives up on seeing doctor after doctor.  It's exhausting and exasperating, without much to show for it in the way of healing and prevention. There will never be one specific cure because everyone seems to suffer a little differently.  When one thing works for one person, it won't for the next.  We are all far too unique and individual.  The best we can do is to eat healthy, keep our bodies in good shape, keep helpful people nearby, and strengthen our faith, because we're gonna need it for next time.

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