I am on day 6 of a migraine. I’ve never had one go on this long before and the novelty wore off on about day number 3. If it doesn’t jog itself along soon we’re going to have a serious falling out.
Migraines and headaches are two totally separate entities. If you have to ask if you have a migraine, you probably don’t have a migraine. Headaches are bothersome, but they don’t make want to chop your noggin off with a rusty axe.
My migraines usually have a distinct prodrome phase. This is like the warning you get from Microsoft when there is about to be a major Windows update – it will begin outside of working hours (often just as I am about to go to sleep), will cause significant pain and will bugger up everything. You know it’s coming but there is nothing you can do to stop it. During the prodrome, I am like the hungry caterpillar munching everything in sight. I have been known to eat Starburst for breakfast and to chomp my way through a family-sized bag of peanut M&Ms at midnight. Unlike the hungry caterpillar, however, I will not get fat, slip into a cocoon and emerge a beautiful butterfly – no, I will just get fatter and fatter until I explode. If, one day, you hear a very loud bang feel free to come and scrape my body parts off the ceiling.
After 48 hours of acting like I have Prader-Willi syndrome, the pain starts. It is, on the whole, one-sided though there are occasions where it affects my entire head. It is throbbing in nature and even the slightest movement is like an ice pick in my skull, the solution to which is not to move. Not even to breathe.
With the pain comes the nausea. My stomach resembles a washing machine as it swishes and spins and occasionally voids its contents out of my mouth. Peanut M&Ms, I’ve discovered, are nowhere near as nice on the way up as they were on the way down.
Half my face is crimson red and the other deathly white. One eye is semi-shut, one eardrum is burning, my neck is made of crushed glass and the back of my head is completely numb. I am not a happy bunny.
Sleep is impossible. I lie there in the dark, my skull gnawed by rats and pain pulsating to the beat of my heart. At 3am I raid the kitchen for ice cubes, which do help despite the fact they freezer burn my skin off. My pillow is now also soggy.
Dawn arrives and with it enemy number one – light. It pierces my eyeballs like a laser and burns holes in my brain. Ouch. No, really. OUCH! Then the postie arrives, each step towards the letterbox mirrored by violent yaps from my dog, which sends lightening bolts of searing pain to my nut. I’m consumed by the desire to rip out his vocal chords with my bare hands.
In desperation I swallow a teaspoon of infant ibuprofen (age 3 months+), then hold my breath for an hour waiting for the anaphylaxis to begin. So far it never has, but that’s no guarantee for the future. It helps a bit. Not a lot, but a bit.
Eventually, sometimes after 1 day, sometimes after 6, the rats stop gnawing, my guts stop churning and I gingerly lift my head off the damp pillow, blinking at the daylight like I’ve spent a month in a pitch-black cave. My brain swims, my spasmed jaw aches and my neck and shoulders crunch like gravel. I’d see an osteopath if I weren’t allergic to manipulation. And acupuncture. And massage. And painkillers. And triptans. And just about any goddamn thing which might help.
Now begins the postdrome phase. It’s like a hangover, just without the fun of being drunk. I have the cognitive ability of a 2 year old, the energy of a 102 year old, and I’m so grumpy even the dog is wary. I doubt whether Tyson Fury after a knockout has a brain which feels this bruised and my post-on-fire eyeballs are full of grit. But finally I sleep, and when I wake all is well. Until the next time …..