I get migraines.
I've had them since I was a little girl. I have this very clear memory of being in 4th grade and asking my teacher to let me call home because of one, and she kept saying, "You just need to relaaaax. You'll be fiiiiine."
"You don't understand..." I tried to explain.
I had to wait until the Spanish teacher came in to the class and my regular teacher left so I could go to the office and call home.
I hated my fourth grade teacher forever.
I've always felt like it's something I have to explain, like I have this pre-existing condition that can pop up at any time, sometimes without warning, and completely knock me out, make me totally incompetent, paralyzed, useless, helpless.
It's inevitable that if you've known me for any given period of time, you know I get these headaches with some regularity. So my husband had been "forewarned" when we started dating. My very first migraine with him was memorable: sudden, acute, and accompanied by vomiting. Sexy.
"Teach me how to help you," he had said. (It's easy to see why I fell so hard, huh?)
After 10 years, he doesn't need to ask. He knows the routine, even for the most severe ones: ice pack for the head, Tiger Balm for the temples, bucket of hot water for the feet (according to my Chinese medicine doctor), prescription medication, neck rub, dark room, and assurances that I'll be okay.
He has never complained, but I have always felt guilty. I can't help but wonder how much he dreads those words: "I'm getting a headache." My migraines can't be helped, but still, they're an imposition. They make me an imposition. They make life come to a screeching halt...like last weekend when our Friday date night plans were replaced with the aforementioned routine. He must think it: "Here we go again." I know I do.
And I so resent that in this world of tension headaches and computer neck strain and general stress, the word "migraine" has become almost like a catch phrase. People throw it around to signify a "bad headache." How often I've heard, when I'm in the throes of one, no less: "Oh yeah, I know how you feel. I get the woooorst headaches..." or "Ugh, I had such a migraine the other day, I went home and had to have a glass of wine."
No, you do not have "the worst headaches," and no, you did not have a migraine if you went home and cured yourself with alcohol. Lord knows, this girl likes herself a cocktail almost more than anyone, but when I have even the slightest hint of a headache, alcohol is the last thing on my mind. And I'm certainly not saying other people around are not entitled to their aches and pains, but those of us who suffer from actual, real migraines sorta know those around us who suffer from actual, real migraines, too. It's like a twisted, sad, sympathetic, resigned private club.
I've tried it all: meds/no meds, more exercise/less exercise, identifying triggers, keeping my sugar balanced, stress-relief, meditation, chiropractors, acupuncture, neurologists.... Some of it helps. Sometimes. Other times, like the last 2 weeks, nothing seems to help. I feel like I'm walking around, waiting (which, I know, probably makes it all worse), praying, hoping, and literally being aware of the absence of pain.
I realize that along the spectrum of chronic medical "issues," I can not complain. Most of the time, I manage. But pain really has a way of seeping in to your soul, tearing up your spirit and your resolve a bit, sucking the joy out of your everyday. And, not to mention, it can really piss you off.