For the last day, I have been trying to bang this out in a way that satisfies me. Trying to accurately describe what happens to me during a migraine attack. It's leaving me frustrated. Nothing seems to convey the confusion, the desperation, and the absolute fright that greets me during an attack. Everything keeps being deleted in frustration.
Several weeks ago, my lovely friend, Lynn, posted a blog of the same subject. A graphic description of what it's like for her when she suffers from these same god-awful stroke-like attacks. She later sent me a message saying she was interested to know how similar our attacks were. In an evil serendipity, I was suffering from a pretty gross bumper that same day, and the following is what poured out of me in response to her. Edited, of course, for clarity and general fuckawesomeness.
Much more telling than anything I'm currently able to dribble out at the moment...
Husband is off to work. Thank goodness, because that means he's safe from the wrath that I'm sure I'm spreading at the moment. The kids are milling about, making various kid noises, and escalating a fury inside of me that only shows up when this twisting pain starts poking around behind my eyeballs. I literally want them to sit in their rooms, motionless, and be happy about it. Otherwise, I am furious with them for every crackle, every thump, and every word they dare speak in my direction.
The Boy is taking his life in his own hands at the moment, by sitting a mere six feet away from me on the couch, and fiddling with some squeaky contraption in his hands. He wants to converse with me, but two words into his sentence, I stop him.
"Sweety, this hurts. Really, really bad."
He knows what I mean.
He's been there thru thirteen years of it. Thru the worst of it, actually. So, he knows.
Because I have buckled, I take 200 milligrams of a seizure medication daily, and have had a decent relief from a lot of the wacky neurological effects of my attacks. Now, most of the time, I'm just uber-sensitive to sounds and smells, I feel emotional and reactive, and my head hurts.
H u r t s.
This morning, it's behind my left eyeball. writhing around back there like some kind of wicked ball of heaving, pulsating worms. You mentioned being able to pinpoint the exact spot on your brain that hurts. It's the same for me. I could open up my head, and point to it. I could pull out my eyeball and massage that spot...sweet relief. Your fantasy, involving scooping out your eyeball, reaching into the chaos of your brain with a "smooth cool spoon", and repairing the violence and the ache inside of your head? The coolness of the wording in your sentence makes my eye swell and pulse with ache at the moment. I don't like cool. I tried lying in bed this morning with your grouping of words, with your "smooth cool spoon," and prying out my eye. Working at the tender spot inside my brain, and gently reassuring and massaging my eyeball in the palm of my hand. No dice. Just the thought of anything "cool" coming within 10 yards of my face stiffens all the veins in my head.
Just an aside, I could murder my husband's bedside fan. Straight up slaughter the fucker.
No, my weird migraine fantasy involves gently removing the top of my head, and exposing my brain, so that I can reach down with my warm hand, and massage that aching spot until it relaxes. If any veins are tangled or squeezed, I just gently straighten them out, and loosen them up. Slow, relaxing, warm movements all around the affected area, until I am well.
My body is tense. Not the normal "tense" like when you're stressed or have slept in a strange position. This is a rock-hard, other-worldly tension that I only ever experience during a migraine. I feel my shoulders drawing up, regardless of my conscious attempts to keep them slack. The base of my neck is hard. What I need is a hard, deep rub. Sharp. But, if he touches me, I will come undone. Sometimes, he sits with me, being as silent as he can manage. He means well. He rests his hand on my skin to comfort me, which is fine. But out of habit, he will eventually begin to rub me, which might as well be a parade of symbols, thru an ADD daycare center, while I'm wearing a razor sweater. It's intolerable. Don't touch. Don't move. Don't talk.
It's better when he just leaves the room for hours, and doesn't come back. If I can stay asleep, it's best. The worst is when I fall asleep, and he returns to check on me, *ripping* me from my sleep. It's the most violent, heart-stopping thing ever. I can't even explain it to him. Sometimes I literally want to scream at him for it. But I don't. Because I know my head would actually explode if I did. Sending fragments of my skull sailing across the room, exposing my pulsating, tender brain to all that cold, bitter wind outside...so I don't.
And all of this is what I don't mind so much. This is what's become "not so bad." What I really really really fear, are the neurological oddities that mimic strokes. These are what happen to me when I am not medicated, and these are the reason I have given in to a daily chemical regimen.
It will usually start off with the flashing. A zig-zag rainbow. Blinking in the corner of my vision, and canceling out everything else in its wake. Partial blindness. Total panic. Because I know "it" is coming. The google mountain, ya know.
***(click the two above links for visual demonstrations of a migraine aura. Be warned, it's not a fun thing to view if you're a sufferer.)***
At that point, I have to call for help. There is about a fifteen minute window before I become completely incoherent. (If it's going to be full-on neurological warfare. But the thing is, I never know.) I call for help, and I go somewhere to lie down.
Sometimes, one side of my goes numb. Starting in my fingers ,and spreading up thru my arm, into my face. Down my leg...the more I panic, the worse this is. And the longer it lasts.
I lose the ability to speak. To understand words. I am unable to articulate what's happening to me. Sometimes I lie in bed, repeating phrases or words over and over again, just to make sure I am still "here." But my thoughts are slow, forced, and calculated, because forming words even in my head takes great effort. I know that if I tried to bring them to my tongue, the result would be a chaotic string of unintelligible syllables. So I busy myself with these repetitive thoughts, slowly. Meticulously. "I - put- the- chair- in - the - kitchen."
Until I can fall asleep.
I usually wake up several times, looking around the room, and checking for signs that it's over. It's usually not for at least a good hard couple of hours. But I look around, to check if things look "weird."
"Has that book shelf always been there?
Is our door always on the right?
Wasn't there a celiing fan in here?
How do you spell ceiling?
I repeat the names of my kids and husband over and over again, in some sort of strange, migraine-chant. Even my own name still sounds foreign...
"I am Krystal. My name is Krystal. Krystal Krystal Krystal."
My head is still throbbing at this point, and I just give up and go back to sleep, dreaming of massaging my naked brain.
Today, I'm only dealing with the upper half of this stuff. The aching, and the sensitivity to stimulation. And being a grump. Also, the sound of my son's voice is making me feel very, *verrrry* barfy. The poor lad keeps trying to talk to me about legos, and I keep having to shush him. I know that if I vomit, my headache will rocket into the stratosphere, and I will not be able to pick my head up off of the floor.
Tomorrow, I will be ravenous. Craving "mass quantities" like one of the Coneheads, and I will feel almost orgasmic, even thru my weakness, at how awesome it feels not to be in agony.
Well, you know how I feel.
My limbs are awkward. My fingers are awkward. My body isn't my own. I want to go out of it until it's done doing whatever it is that it's doing. Until I feel like I can articulate like an intelligent person again. Until I can type faster than an 8th grader.
And until my brain stops trying to tunnel its way out of my left eye.
So I think I will go back to bed, and hope my kids forgive me for days like this.
I also want to mention to you, before I forget, the presence of this thick, tingly black tar...
I don't know if this is migraine related, but there is lots of it after the migraine is over...usually the next day...
It's in my neck. In my shoulders.
Wads and wads of this thick, awful, tingly tar-like stuff that will only go away if the husband rubs the dickens out of me. Trouble is, he can't. He physically can't push on me hard enough to create the sensation that the tar is going out of me. Now and then he'll really lay into me, and I feel some of it begin to seep away, but he's had to push on me so hard that it's either going to leave a bruise on my shoulders, or on his hands, and he isn't able to keep going.
Of course, I know it isn't really there. But I don't know another way to describe it. It just IS that. It's thick. It's black. It's tingly. Tar.
I feel it inside there, all the time, and SO much during and after migraines.
I'm sure if I ever went in for a deep tissue treatment, and they really worked that crap out of me, I would be forty pounds lighter. :P
Later tonight, I gave up and went into the blessed darkness, the sanctuary of my bedroom. The theme in ours is dark. I have kicked around the idea of painting our creme walls a dark burnt red, partly to match with our darkish Moroccan theme, and partly because it would assist in creating an even darker migraine recovery environment.
I hid beneath our ridiculously obese comforter, and made a little cocoon for myself, and after figuring out which side was the least painful, I remained absolutely motionless.
It started to bump like crazy. Sometimes, lying in certain positions, or just having my face turned to one side will exacerbate the throbbing intensely. I have to figure out which way I can lay that's the least painful. It just wasn't working, tho, and the pain was massive.
So, I reached up to my tar-filled shoulder, and found where I imagined to be a big wad, and started to press it out. If it feels especially "full", I can sometimes get relief from that sensation by pushing on it myself, and today I must have been overloaded. I felt that sweet, tingling relief as the black thickness oozed out of me, and my head relaxed just slightly. At least enough for me to drift off for a bit.
What I really need (or imagine I need) is something rounded and blunt, like the end of a hairbrush, pressed into me, and kneaded. Or someone with very strong thumbs.
I did have to send the kids downstairs. The sound my son's deep voice intruding thru the walls painted this god-awful speckled flashy fabric in the darkness behind my closed eyes, and marauded thru my head like a timpani.
When I woke up, the first thing I realized was that I felt relief. I still have a headache, but fuck, I can do those standing on my head. My shoulders are stiff, and my neck feels slightly like someone smashed it in with a baseball bat. But that ball of worms has un-wadded, and there's now just one, wriggling around trying to hold the whole thing together, and I know it won't work. He'll fuck off soon enough. My eye still feels hot and sensitive, but what do you expect when you've had your head full of worms all day?
The next thing I notice is that I am absolutely hollow inside, and I haven't eaten in four hundred years. I hesitate to leave the comfort of my cocoon, because the kids will hear me, and come attack me, dying for my attention. This is the hard part. They've been amusing each other all day long, and are sick of the sight of one another. Now they'll want to talk to me and play with me and tell me all the things the other did wrong, and I am NOT ready to engage. I still need silence and slowness and alone-ness. They see me up and around and foraging for food, so they see me as being well again. Having to send them away again is crappy. I feel crappy. My son feels crappy. He barks at his sister because now my foul migraine mood has become his foul migraine mood.
Chicken. I want chicken. The leftover chicken in our fridge doesn't stand a chance. I'm almost perverted in my lust for it...it's THAT bad. I realized as I sat here, shoveling it into my face like a person who hasn't seen hot food in years, that if someone were to come to my door right now to see me, I would likely be humiliated if they saw the way I was hovered over this plate of food, eating it as if I were...I don't know what. I'm a pervert, and this little slutty bird is my victim. And she shouldn't have been wearing all of that revealing breading, if she didn't want me to eat her, the trollop...she wanted it, I know she did...
And I feel...alive.
My body is aching, my house is an absolute wreck. My children are going to be impossible this evening, and there are a million and one courses of events set into motion (or not set into motion, however you choose to look at it) as a result of my absolutely wasted day, convalescing in bed. But I feel alive. Because I have gone from grotesque agony, to euphoric relief in a matter of hours.
I also find that sometimes when it's over, I'm almost...giddy.
So. That was a bitchen day. But in comparison, that one wasn't bad. I remembered the names of my children. I didn't suffer any hallucinations, and I didn't lose vision or cognitive function. There were no wombats trying to burrow up thru the toilet dressed as Power Rangers, hellbent on stealing my underpants. It was a mild attack.
And that's what it was like...