Thursday, June 27, 2013

Typing With My Eyes Closed

Opening my eyes hurts.  There are flashing lights shimmering at the edges of my field of vision.  Trying to focus makes them grow.  Ignoring them while trying to focus on something else doesn't work,either.  They are there, dancing in a semi-circle, blocking my peripheral vision with glass-block-like-impermeability.

They are the precursors to the headache that is going to consume my afternoon.  Knowing that it is on its way doesn't help.  I can concentrate on the shimmering lights, or I can worry about the pounding that will be taking place behind my left temple when they disappear. It doesn't matter.  The day is shot.

I took medicine - Excedrin Migraine - and lay quietly across the foot of the bed as the pills dissolved and made their way to the pain centers and the aura centers and the fix-me-quick centers of my head.  TBG had his hand on the clicker, so I never had to listen to commercials. I heard about Maria Sharapova and Aaron Hernandez and Nelson Mandella and George Zimmerman and yes, they all have issues much larger than mine but right now I just don't care.

I feel like the main character in the old joke - my hip pain has retreated from its usual place, front and center, as the migraine blues push it to the side.  There's no arguing with this feeling.  There's no wishing it away.  It is here.  It will take its own sweet time, nestling comfortably in the folds of my brain, and then, when the aura is gone, it will exert its presence with authority.  Pounding, steadily, deeply, relentlessly in the middle of my head.

They started when I was in college.  I was interning in the Nassau County Department on Aging, visiting recipients of services to assess their needs.  In 1972 we didn't have MapQuest to lay out our routes; home visits were created on paper maps, outlined in highlighters and folded to reveal the neighborhood to be visited.  Trying to find street names as my vision clouded was frustrating.  I tipped my head from side to side, I squinted, I rubbed my eyeballs.... nothing helped.  After a while, I could see again, but my head was experiencing an earthquake unlike any I had felt before.

G'ma and Daddooooo were stumped.  Neither of them had a clue.  A call to the HMO secured an appointment in The Headache Clinic.  A lovely young man placed electrodes on my scalp, shined lights in my eyes, took readings and measurements and told me that I probably had migraines and not a brain tumor, that there were over the counter medications and prescription medications but that none of them really worked.

Forty years later I can agree with him.  There are a lot of remedies out there; none of them make the pain go away.

They don't seem to consider how busy I am; they arrive on their own schedule.  I was in the library when this one hit; suddenly I could no longer read the blurbs on the front covers of the books I was grabbing.  As usual, I denied it at first.  Scrunching my eyes, squinting, moving to a spot with less glare .... useless.  I drove home with one-third of my vision occluded; I was very glad that I had only three blocks to cover, that there was no traffic on the roads, that I could drive slowly with impunity.

And now, I type to you with my eyes closed.  Opening them brings on a renewed wave of stabbing and jabbing behind my eyeballs.  That stack of books sitting on the kitchen table will be there tomorrow.  It is not being touched today.  Instead, I am drinking green tea, taking deep breaths, and contemplating getting a manicure.

When all else fails, pampering is the solution.
To those who read this when it was originally posted, before the BlogHer sidebar posting, will notice that I corrected the typographical errors in the first one.... I was really in a bad way.


  1. I used to have debilitating migraines. I would get the lights and feeling like I was in a tunnel. It was absolutely horrible. Went to an ENT and once I had my deviated septum fixed, they went away. I still get sinus headaches, but I haven't had a migraine in a while. My doctor said the deviated septum was creating pressure that brought on the headaches.

    Until you have had one of these, no one can understand. It' awful and scary. I would have to lie in a dark room without any stimuli to just get my head to stop pounding. Excedrin Migraine is the best though. I take it even when I'm getting a sinus headache. It helps those too.

    Do feel better.

    Sending hugs!

    Megan xxx

    1. It's the "nothing helps" piece that gets to me. Of course, I'm much better today... and admiring all the typos I left in this post!

  2. I had my first migraine about 2 years ago. Since then, I have had them twice, but more often I just get the optical auras and the headache doesn't follow. Due to some other medications I take, I am limited to tylenol and advil, and neither of them work. I thank Heaven I don't have them more often and I hope yours are more manageable on the future.


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