Oh My Achin’ Head

I have a headache. I blame it on work. Or maybe I didn’t drink enough water today, and I know I didn’t get enough sleep, or maybe it’s hormones because they’ve been known to sneak up on me when I’m least expecting it. Maybe my forehead muscles are just sore from all the scowling I did today. Maybe I have a chocolate deficiency. That’s probably it.
My head and I have a long history on disagreeing about how our day should go. I survived my first migraine when I was seven. Second grade. Back then, once I threw up my head got better. I hated being nauseated, which the headaches did to me every time, but it was sweet relief to throw up and get it over with. It was also highly inconvenient to always be having to throw up unexpectedly- like on the school bus, on my way running up the stairs to the bathroom, in my cupped hands in the backseat of a car. It was a guarantee that once I set foot into a car with a headache the vomiting wasn’t far away, so we learned to keep plastic bags in convenient places.
When I became a teenager, throwing up went from the solution to just another terrible part of having a migraine. The headache no longer magically disappeared after throwing up, but hung around for 24 hours or so, most of which I spent hiding my face from the light or laying in the dark on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. My mom had taken me to the doctor, but so far there was nothing that worked.
When I was 19, I was down and out with a migraine so bad that I called my mom and asked her if she could come pick me up and drive me to the clinic where they could give me a painkiller. Being the good mom that she is, she came right over. I rode in the passenger seat with my head over a bucket, making it almost the whole way before throwing up in the parking lot.
The doctor, who seemed to feel really badly for me, dimmed the lights in the room and told me about a new injection that just came out. I would have agreed to give up my left foot for relief at that point so sure, I was up to give it a try.
They gave me an injection in my leg, and left me in the semi-dark room. In order to leave me some light, they had to turned on the stand light (you ladies know what I am talking about) and pointed it at the wall, then turned the overhead lights off. Five minutes or so later, a nurse came in to check on me and at the same we both said, “I smell something burning.”
She had to click on the light and it turned out that the light had burned a huge brown spot into the wallpaper. “And think,” the nurse said, “we point those lights right at…” and then we both laughed and then it HIT ME. I WAS LAUGHING!!!!
My headache was gone. I still felt kind of weird and flushed but when the doctor came in I was all smiles.
I had to watch a video out how to give myself injections in my leg, which my mom joined me for (she was equally shocked when I walked out smiling), and then it was off to the pharmacy for the miracle drug.
It changed my life. A headache now, whenever, wherever, could be reduced to one hour. Ten minutes for the injection to take place and fifty more minutes to feel like myself again. They made accommodations at work for me so I could use a back room to administer an injection and lay on the floor for 50 more minutes. Life was grand.
Except for when I was pregnant with my daughter. No more injections allowed. Hormones all out of whack. Stomach so huge that when I pulled off the side of the road to throw up the force of it compressed my bladder in a way that made me the most pitiful creature on the planet standing pregnant and leaking all over on the side of the road.
We survived it, she and I, and by the time I was done nursing and could take the drugs again, it was even available in pill form!
Then, for some inexplicable reason, in my thirties, my headaches became more frequent. When I did the math on pills per packet and how many refills I was getting, I was taking a pill every other day. My doctor announced that if I was taking that many I should be on a preventive and wrote me a prescription.
I fainted twice from that drug before I got used to it. Manufactured for high blood pressure, it was designed to also reduce blood pressure and since mine has always been naturally low, getting lower just made me pass out. It also gave me hot flashes, and made my heart race, but in the end, my body adjusted and my headaches got better.
They got so much better, that at 37 I quit taking the preventative meds. I rarely get a migraine anymore, but I do get headaches. They are not the same. I can type with this headache and eat my mood enhancing homemade macaroni and cheese. Vomiting is nowhere on the horizon.
When J came home today I told him about my terrible, rotten, no- good day and finished with “I have a headache.”
“There are brownies on the counter,” he said, “why don’t you go help yourself to one of those, and maybe some ibuprofen, and lay down in bed and relax?”
Compared to all the past requirements, it’s a pretty sweet way to cure a headache.

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