I had a migraine last sunday - first one I have had since I was maybe in my 20s. Took me way back to my early teens when they were a weekly trip. Migraines are a total mindfuck because they are relentless murderous fucking cunts and they are brutal.
Migraines have a pattern. People have variations on this theme but I have heard enough migraine stories to know they really fuck everybody the same way. Here is my basic pattern.
It starts with a blind spot. A small bit of visual field just off center that just disappears. But then it grows, first just annoying and then totally debilitating. Then the blind spot goes away and there is pain. Only a lot at first but then a whole fucking lot more. Behind the eyes and pushing forward. Behind the ears and pushing inward. Constant but pulsating. Pain continues to build and blob and pulsate and you can’t stand to have your eyes open because they hurt but when they are closed the pulsing and blobbing around is accentuated and moves in a rhythm with the pain until you can’t tell if you’re awake and dreaming that it hurts or asleep… Hours. Fucking hours. Nothing helps. Then you actually do fall asleep - your brain just fucking goes into a wave pattern that matches the pain pulses and you’re away. And then you wake up and puke and the pain is magically ALL GONE. You’re on your hands and knees and wet with perspiration and have puked and puked and puked and there is no pain and being knee down on the dirty toilet floor so close to the porcelain now so imperfectly clean is soooo good.
And then one of two things happens. You have a small fading headache and you’re free. Free to do the rest of the day or go back to bed (if the blackout phase has taken you from afternoon to bedtime then it is still bedtime and you go have uneasy post sleep sleep). Or. There is a blindspot. A small annoying blindspot. And you’re back on this fucking trip and you’re going around again and there is no.way.to.get.off.
But my most recent migraine was a fucking doozy. Like I said I haven’t had one for a while. And I’ve never had exactly this one. The blind spot was vividly edged not annoyingly almost perceptible. And it was coloured and shimmering and sawtooth triangular. And it got bigger. And bigger. Until it was not some fraction left and down from centre. It was everything BUT some fraction right and down. I was functionally blind. Maybe three quarters of my vf was hallucinatory shimmering sawtooth rainbows. No pain and no panic - kind of enjoying the total immersion. I was out with Adrianne so she could drive me home. And I had nothing particular to do for the rest of the day. So it was… peaceful. But I worried that the magnitude of the visual cue might be a bad sign. And it was.
Then the blind spot vanished. No fade out. Click. Paul on the road to damascus. I can see. Hell a fucking lou ya. Because what was coming was for realisies fucking terror frying. I had enough time to get home. It was pushing behind my eyes. But pushing in. Take some neurofen. 3. I know it won’t help but it might make me sleep. I probably should take something harder but I have, you know, this complicated relationship thing with my harder painkillers… abstinence is my best defence. and besides I still feel psychically altered by the visual phase. I don’t feel that mixing chemicals, even painkillers, will make this thing better. Maybe even worse. Anyway it hasn’t happened yet but I know it is coming. Like you know something fucking bad is coming <like inserting a really fucking intense metaphor here is coming? Like you know all kinds of shit pain is coming>. I get my pants off and it is coming on I slip into the cool sheets <too cool not cool enough it’s going to get really fucking rough in here> I get my head on the pillow. And it hits.
And it hits and it hits and I groan and whimper for the anticipation that it won’t end. But it doesn’t help so I resign myself to it. But it doesn’t help so I groan and whimper a little more. Fuck this.
Hour one is about do i want my eyes shut (too focused on pain in eyes) open (too bright too much movement) do I want the curtains drawn (too cold without the sunlight) open (too bright) do I want to be stroked (yes no) do I want to be left alone (no yes no yes yes no yes yes yes… okay this is yes. Alone. I can’t do words. I can’t respond touch. I can’t do sound. Alone. Maybe I can sleep)
But you can’t sleep. Because you didn’t say the magic word or take the magic pill.
Hour two is being absolutely transported to my childhood. I can’t open my eyes. I am IN my bedtoom <bedroom bedtomb> in childhood growing up street. I can’t open my eyes but this is state dependent memory. I can see everything. Anchored to this previous point in my my personal timeline by mind altering fucking PAIN. I’m not head north on buckwheat pillows I am head south on thatever I had then. There is a giant square pillow with a reclining lion on it. This is my tweenage boyhood linen and decor.
There is a difference - with my eyes closed this time there is no pulse. There used to be a pulse. A whoom whoom whoom whoom whoom and it used to be accompanied by a blob behind my eyes that would blob a path in my vf. A square path. The path was the same as the swinging animated characters in a computer game I had called harvey wallbanger. It was a random trip through a grid. Blob blob blob from cell to cell, sometimes up, across, back forth, down, vlob blob blob whooom whooom whoom.
Anyway this isn’t happening and it’s KINDA a relief cos that was fucking harsh. Harsh enough that I am wobbly cold sweat terrified that it might start happening as a 38 year old grown up. But it doesn’t. This isn’t the story where I imagine something happening and then that thing happened that I was worried was gonna happen.
But I’m otherwise transported mentally and bodily to like 1988. And it is fucking on. Like donkey headfuckingly sore kong.
Hour 3 is obsession that I am going to die. This isn’t a migraine. That’s why the visual part was soooo different. This is meningitis. I’m going to puke and pass out and this is meningitis and my migraine history is going to delay diagnosis so I get blood poisoning before they start with the antibiotics and that is totally going to happen. <this totally did happen, to someone else, so I’m not cribbing this story - this is just what my brain does with this input of pain only>
Yesterday I emptied the RANCID fucking fishtank to ship to my kid’s house and when it was nearly empty and I was carrying the tank to the toilet to dump the rest it sloshes and I got some in my eye and mouth and this is amoebic fucking meningitis so even when they realise it’s meningitis they are going to treat me for bacterial and it isn’t going to arrest things and only the progress of the disease is going to alert anyone to the risk that it is not bacterial.
For an hour I am just rotting from the inside out with whatever from the fish tank has infected my brain. I’m in a green fish shit tank of pain. For that whole hour. <Meningitis pond scum amoebic slime green pain> is all one word and all I am and it repeats over and over and over and over…
And somewhere in that third hour of obsessive self indulgent bullshit… I fall asleep. It’s not just pain unawarenees. It’s sleep. An I don’t even think it is significantly long but when I wake up I am only just awake enough to move my body to the bathroom. In my minds eye is a carpeted Dunedin bathroom but here in the real world I still make the right sequence of motor plans to get face down over my ensuite (dirty) toilet and puke. My.fucking.guts. Out.
And nothing I ate earlier in the day has been actually processed. It all comes out. Except radically altered by 4-5 hours of pre-digestion. It looks like things. It smells like things. It tastes like poison. And it comes out apace. Spatters the wall. Up the fucking wall. Chocolate brown acrid stomach acid smelling up the wall. More more more more.
And then wipe it all up. Stand up. Soak a washcloth and put it over my pain free head.