Memorable Migraine #9: Back in time to '99
I’m not a clotheshorse, and I don’t tend to spend much time or money on home decor and housekeeping necessities. Though I own a lot of jewelry (mostly the inexpensive kind), I tend to focus on the same few pieces that I cycle through. Compared to many women my age, I don’t really spend a lot of money.
Compared with my college-aged and twenty-something self, I hardly spend any money on music anymore, but I still go to more live shows than most people, and if I’m listening to music, it’s usually because I purchased it with real money.
When I was younger and more willing to put up with long lines, big crowds, and hefty ticket prices, I was a concert junkie. Some bands I’ve seen many times over and would still see again because of my love of live music.
In summer ’99, the Lilith Fair crew made another stop in Atlanta, and I was thrilled to be able to go. At the time, I listened to mostly female singer-songwriters and caught every live show I could in New York City (where I spent the school year) and in Georgia (where I spent summers and winter breaks). One of my favorite bands of all time, the Indigo Girls, were one of the headlining groups that year, and I couldn’t wait. We showed up at the venue that afternoon and set up our blanket on the lawn. It was summer in the South, and it was hot and sunny. Back then I didn’t focus too much on staying hydrated, so I can only imagine how well I was setting the stage for a migraine to move on in. I had been suffering from frequent “really, really bad headaches” for over five years by then, but I was two full years away from a proper diagnosis and corresponding treatment. Though the migraine attacks seriously interfered with my life, I hadn’t yet taken the time to figure out their patterns or even take steps to avoid them, apart from not touching artificial sweetener with a ten-foot pole.
The rain moved in as the sun started to set, and I started feeling the telltale fogginess that signaled one of my really bad headaches, the kind that made me shut down all together. I hadn’t brought any ibuprofen or Excedrin (my go-tos back then), and there was no place to buy them. Tons of people who were in the uncovered section of the venue (including the lawn, where we were) fled for home. I tried to keep up a good attitude, not wanting my friend and my sister to know I was feeling so bad and only getting worse. We moved up to the rows of long, connected metal seats when the second-to-last group was performing. I had a burst of inspiration and asked my friend D. to go buy me the biggest Coke they sold—of course I made sure he would double-check to see it was “real” Coke and not Diet Coke, which is full of aspartame, one of my most offensive triggers and the only one I had really pinpointed at that time in my life. I laughed at the size of the drink he bought back, though nowadays it could probably pass for a small at McDonald’s. Dizzily, I sat up and made myself chug the whole thing even though I’d had my fill after the first ten ounces or so. I then put the huge cup to the side and lay myself down on the metal chairs, which were still wet even though the rain had gone as quickly as it had come. Right as the Indigo Girls’ roadies were setting up their stage, I attempted to sit up and immediately re-thought my plan when I realized how dizzy I was.
And then something miraculous happened by the time the Girls were on their second song. I had the distinct feeling of thunderheads in my brain getting cleared out of the way, making the way for a clear blue sky. My “really, really bad headache” was wiped away almost instantaneously—the huge influx of caffeine had worked. Within ten minutes, I was standing on the seats next to D., singing at the top of my lungs and reveling in these suddenly-close seats that had only emptied due to others’ going home when it rained.
There are only a handful of times I can recount when my treatment—whether it be medication or a gargantuan cup of soda or a massage—wiped out a migraine so completely and quickly. But this is a day I will always remember, a day when I thought my concert-obsessed self was going to be sick and in pain during her favorite band’s performance only to feel utterly resurrected.
Have you had the experience of a drug or other treatment working so completely and somewhat miraculously? Where were you? What were the circumstances, and did the treatment ever work the same way again?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?