Description of one of my bad attacks
I wrote this based off notes I scribbled during a particularly intense migraine attack in mid-2014. Sadly, the memories of such attacks are strong, so I relied on my own recollections to fill in the details. Don’t read if you are already feeling sick to your stomach!
My head throbs gently if I am perfectly still, but if I go to sit up or—god forbid—stand up, the throbbing intensifies painfully. It feels as if all the blood in my body is in my head, pulsating painfully. If I’m particularly unlucky, bile will rise to my throat as I try to fight off the nausea that accompanies my worst attacks.
I stumble to the bathroom, no longer able to hold in the pee that I’ve been trying to ignore for the better part of the morning. I knew it would come to this, this having to actually get up and move. Before I climbed out of the bed, I glanced at my phone’s glaring screen to see that it has only been 30 minutes since I took my medication—I have, at minimum, 30 more minutes until I can hope to find relief. That is, if the drugs work this time.
Please don’t throw up, please don’t throw up, I chant inside my head as I walk the ten feet to the bathroom, fumbling with the waist of my pants, wishing now that I hadn’t waited so long to get up to use the bathroom because now I’m in emergency mode. I walk right into the sharp corner of the sink—my balance and depth perception are both off. I’m never the most balanced and self-aware, but during an attack I might as well have a blindfold on. The pain to my thigh pierces and I’m grateful for it: it’s a temporary distraction from the agony in my head.
I sit down hard on the toilet seat—it seems I’ve misjudged the distance down to it and ended up sitting down with more force than necessary. My head is spinning. Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, I keep thinking as I pee, wondering if the pills I took thirty minutes back would come back up if I got sick or if they were already being absorbed by my digestive system.
Being in this much discomfort makes me worry that it will get worse. I think back to some of those awful, awful attacks I am grateful not to experience too often these days. I remember the days before my diagnosis and corresponding treatment, days when I would get migraines so terrible I would take cat naps on the cool tile of the bathroom floor in between vomiting sessions, wishing for a cool cloth on my head. I know it’s bad to worry when you’re already so sick, but I can’t help it.
What if I throw up the medicine?
What if I don’t throw up the medicine but it still doesn’t work anyway?
What if I should’ve taken the other medication but now that I’ve taken this one I have no other treatment choice?
What if it gets worse and I have to go to the ER?
How am I going to afford an ER bill?
Where is my current insurance card? Does my insurance cover ER visits? Why don’t I just know these things? Surely a grown-up would know these things.
What if I end up in the ER and they don’t listen to me and they give me that awful, awful IV drug they gave me that one time, the one that made me feel like my arms and legs were somehow nauseated themselves?
How am I going to get back to the bed?
Should I bring this garbage can from the bathroom back to the bedroom in case I am sick in there?
Oh no, there are tissues and stuff in this garbage can. If I end up throwing up in it, it’s going to be such a mess to clean up.
And on, and on.
Thankfully, these types of anxiety- and nausea-ridden attacks aren’t as frequent as they used to be for me, but it does seem that as soon as I think of them as something in my past, I get one just like this.
Have you ever re-imagined a particular migraine attack? Do you think it would help non-migraineurs to understand you better to write the nitty-gritty details down all at once? Would it help you?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?