At this point in my life, most of the time I can accept migraine’s role. I am prepared to be incapacitated a certain percentage of the time, and often, I am able to take to my bed with only quiet resignation rather than resentment.
Today was different.
We didn’t have any particular plans. Last night we celebrated New Year’s Eve briefly with the other partners of our local online news journal; we were home by eleven. I had one mixed drink with Kahlua, which is normally easy on my head. I had been struggling with a stubborn migraine for a few days. While the pain never went above a six and occasionally nearly disappeared, I felt tormented by its smoke-like persistence. I was grateful to be able to go to the gathering with my colleagues and didn’t mind leaving before midnight, especially since seven-year-old Zo and her friend were with us.
At home, I read the Winnie The Pooh story In Which Piglet is Completely Surrounded by Water out loud to Zo and then John and I listlessly watched the ball drop on TV. My head was starting to hurt worse and the ridiculousness of Times Square, Mariah Carey and Ryan Seacrest didn’t help. Afterward John played Star Wars Battlefront on the Playstation, I did some writing, and we went to sleep.
In the morning I just felt awful. My eyes were dry and swollen, my head pounding. I picked up X from her sleepover and though I really wanted to sit and spend time with John and the girls, I was too uncomfortable. I told them I was going to have to go try to take a nap. This didn’t bother me too much; I actually love the luxury of being able to return to bed on a day when everyone’s at home and it’s cloudy and cold outside. But when I did drift off I had a nightmare, and when I awoke my migraine was worse rather than better even though I’d taken medication.
At this point it was 2:30 pm. I had really expected to feel better after my meds and nap, as that is usually how it works for me, and pulling myself out of a disturbing dream and blinking awake into increased pain caused me to feel a stab of frustration. I applied two new menthol patches to my forehead – the headache was double sided at that point, this one migrated to a new location a couple times per day – and trudged downstairs. The girls were watching Pokemon on Netflix and the noise was intolerable, and John turned the volume way down until the girls protested they couldn’t hear it. I wanted to make something to eat even though I didn’t feel at all hungry, since I knew my body needed food, and I wandered through the warm brightness in a fog, wishing I could break through to have the lazy, quiet day I’d envisioned in the company of my husband and daughters. I sat down to eat my cheese bites and nearly had to close my eyes against the pale late afternoon sunlight, the much-quieter battle sounds and exclamations from the TV still piercing. My dog Asia’s toenails clicking by loudly, John’s soft chuckle at a video he was watching on his phone… I made some kind of panicky exhalation and John said immediately, “It’s okay, you can go back upstairs and rest some more.”
But I DON’T WANT TO!” I answered miserably, because I didn’t. I don’t know whether it was the several days in a row battling the same stubborn migraine, or whether it had to do with the symbolism of New Year’s Day and my wish to not spend a day of new beginnings alone and in pain, but for the first time in a long while I felt myself struggling against the flow of the river. My spirits plummeted.
I ate as much of my food as I could, drank some Gatorade, and took another pain pill from the bathroom safe. I told the girls I loved them and missed them and that though I did not want to, I was going to have to return to my bed. They barely looked up as they both assured me by rote “Love you too, Mommy.” For them, certainly, this was nothing out of the ordinary, and they know missing a quiet day at home wouldn’t be as hard on me emotionally as missing a performance or other such special day of theirs. Normally, they’d be right.
Back upstairs in my dim, soft safe haven I used a Sumatriptan injection and swallowed some Dramamine. I plugged in the heated neck massager pillow John had gotten me for Christmas, feeling too depressed to even put on music. I could hear giggles from downstairs and tears slid down my face. My pain was an impenetrable wall between my family and me, and all I had wanted was to spend the first day of 2017 with them.
In the silence, my wounded mind kept drifting to the song “New Year’s Day” by U2:
All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you, night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
I will be with you again
I will be with you again…”
I would like to wish all the members and readers of migraine.com a wonderful, healthy, happy new year. May it be filled with fewer migraines, kind medical professionals, supportive family and friends; as well as lots of love and joy and personal triumph. I know that no matter what 2017 holds for me, this amazing community will have my back, and that is something for which I am very, very grateful. ❤️