The things I take for granted-bending down

Like most of you reading this right now, I have had way more than my fair share of migraine attacks (let’s face it: having even just one is probably more than anyone’s “fair share,” but we won’t go there right now). One might call me a migraine episode expert if you consider the fact that I’ve had frequent migraines for twenty years now and that my migraines change from episode to episode, giving me a wide range of symptoms and experiences.

All that considered, you’d probably assume that I try to live life to the fullest on my migraine-free days, that I really don’t take for granted any of the aspects of my life that are cut off from me when I am sick.

This assumption, my friends, is not always true.

It’s usually during a particularly rough migraine attack that I realize just how much Healthy Janet takes for granted. Case in point: bending down.

In October of this year, I spent about ten days in California for various weddings of friends and family members. Thankfully, I was virtually migraine-free during the festivities; unfortunately, I was sick with migraine on the days between the weddings. Jim and I rented this little apartment in L.A. for a few days between our commitments, ostensibly so he could roam around the city while I spent a couple of days working. Surprise, surprise: that plan did not come to fruition. Instead, I spent most of the days I’d set aside to work and write feeling totally sick and migrainey instead.

On a Wednesday, I attempted to do some menial tasks that wouldn’t tax my tired brain too much. I’d taken my Imitrex and was hoping it’d kick in with few side effects so I could get to work soon, but in the meantime I was in a lot of pain and discomfort. Still, there was work to be done and lying down didn’t make me feel much better, so why not sit at this little desk and do some necessary but easy tasks?

Everything was going okay—albeit at a snail’s pace—until I dropped my pen. Without giving my actions much thought, I immediately bent down to pick it up and couldn’t believe the sensation. A loud and powerful wave of what felt like blood rushed to my head, storming my ears as if I were being held under water. My head bobbed involuntarily and I am sure I uttered some curse word under my breath. My vision started to blank out in little black bursts—sort of like the inverse of fireworks, where instead of explosions of light against a dark sky I saw explosions of dark against the room.

As soon as I realized I wasn’t going to faint, I thought to myself, “Wow. Bending over is hard. My healthy self totally takes this for granted.” Later Jim (my partner, who is also a migraineur) and I talked about how tricky migraine attacks can be, how sometimes you think you’re on the mend until—all of a sudden—you do something that Healthy You could pull off without a hitch but Migraine You can barely suffer through. In my case, bending down to pick something off the floor shot off so much discomfort, pain, and dizziness that I couldn’t help but be shocked back into the reality of my migraine attack. I ended up sitting on the couch for awhile, abandoning even my petty little work tasks until the medication began to set in.

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