Last weekend was wonderful.
It was satisfying and relaxing and rejuvenating.
It was everything I could have wanted for my days away from my desk.
But it did not start that way.
Friday morning, I woke up with a migraine. One of the worst migraines I’ve ever had.
If you have never had a migraine, I envy you. If you’re wondering “what does a migraine feel like?” I will try to explain.
Migraines are a little different for each person, but mine always start like this:
6pm – the right side of my head feels a little achy, but it’s nothing I can’t push through. I swallow a few advil and sit down to eat dinner.
7pm – the pain starts to collect at my right temple, and my thoughts get hard to track. Not much, but enough to where I can tell something is off. I wish I had taken something stronger than an advil.
8:30 – I decide to go to bed early, maybe I can sleep it off and I’ll feel better in the morning.
4am – The pain wakes me up. I can tell the migraine is getting worse, but I’m tired and don’t want to get out of bed. My limbs feel heavy, and my head is pounding.
5am – I have to get up, I can’t sleep and I left my migraine meds in the kitchen. I grab a big glass of water and take two of the small white capsules. I know it’s too late for them to do much at this point, so I take an ice pack from the freezer, wrap it in a kitchen towel, and put the compress against my temple. It’s freezing cold, but at least it’s a different kind of pain from the internal ache.
6am – I’m back in bed with my ice pack for a pillow and have been drifting in and out of sleep for the past forty-five minutes. The migraine meds have kicked in, which doesn’t take away any of the pain, but does flood my system with several cups of coffee worth of caffeine. The cats are meowing to be fed. Are they always so loud?
6:30 – the cats are fed, and the sun is brightening the windows. The comforting golden hue buzzes with a harsh glimmering aura. I grab my sunglasses and pace the kitchen. The caffeine is making me anxious, but the pain is making me nauseous. I mentally tick down the list of breakfast options and calculate the probability that I can stomach them.
7am – I settle on celery. It doesn’t have much flavor, has a high water content, and I think the texture might feel good in the bones of my skull. I want to bite down on something—hard.
7:15 – food was a bad idea. My stomach rolls, and I make my way slowly to the bathroom and sit on the cold tile floor. I know I won’t vomit, it just feels like I should.
7:30 – I crawl back into bed. I mumble to [REDACTED] that I’m fighting a migraine. He murmurs he’s sorry. I dig my knuckle into the side of my head. If I could survive drilling a hole in my skull, I would. Anything to relieve the pressure.
8:00am – I know I can’t go in to work. The sun is still too bright, and staring at a screen for any amount of time would be pure torture. I dictate a quick email to [REDACTED] who notifies my boss. I feel like a child. I feel helpless. A headache took me down—a pain in my head! It feels like a puzzle I should be able to solve. If I just eat the right things in the right order, or take in the right ratio of water to oxygen, I should be able to fix this.
8:20am – [REDACTED] brings me a fresh ice pack, some tums, and water. He kisses me goodbye on his way to a study session. I press the icy block to my forehead and curl into my pillow. The ice numbs my head enough for me to drift into sleep.
12:00pm – My eyes burst open. The migraine meds have started to work their magic. Fortified by sleep and the dark room, the pills are slowly stifling the throbbing in my head. I can feel the caffeine in them too, jittery in my nerves without any substantial food to weigh it down. I sit up, tentatively. No acrobatics in my belly. I let out a tentative sigh of relief and ease my feet into slippers.
The rest of the day I shuffle around the house, floating in my return to normalcy. I am almost ecstatic at the lack of excruciating pain in my temple. I attentively tidy and dust our home. I consider vacuuming—the rugs could use it—and decide not to risk it.
I coddle myself. I take a nap on the couch while my well-fed kitties snooze around me.
[REDACTED] comes home and we take a walk to the dog park with our pup. I don’t talk much, but I hold his arm and take deep breaths of the crisp cold air.
My brain feels a little fried for a day or two after a migraine. I always have a slightly floaty feeling in my skull, and a deep gratitude that the migraine ended.
So far, they all have ended. But when they are happening, it’s hard to remember that.
It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re curled around your ice pack pillow wishing the sun would go back to the other side of the earth.
But, eventually, the pain will subside, and you get to be glad it’s over.