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Migraine Back in the Day

I've had this file on my computer desktop for weeks now, intending to open up my old laptop and convert it, so I could see what I'd written. Many files I'd created on the old computer with old software don't open on newer computers running newer software.

I finally got around to cranking up the old computer and converting the file just now and see I wrote this in 1991, before there were miracle abortive migraine medicines. In those days, if you got a migraine, that was it—prepare to enter a place you don't want to go.


I woke up with that strange feeling I have when I get a migraine. Something's not right. My body's wrong, my head's wrong. The air's wrong. I feel like I've got to get up, go outside, do something, run away, but then it hits me. It's a migraine. I've got to stay calm. If I get frantic about it, it will come for sure. If I can just keep quiet, not stir up the mental firmament, I might slip under it. It might pass me by.

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I waited. I sat up with an extra pillow behind my neck. The throbbing
was already building up over my right eye. I squinted. As long as the flashing
disks didn't show up in front of my eyes I'd be all right. If I could just keep the flashers away I could make it. I tried not to focus my eyes on anything. I looked across the room at the clock. Seven-thirteen. Damn, was planning to sleep till eight. There was a slight after-image when I looked away and I had a moment of panic. No, take it easy. Relax the eyes. You'll make it through.

I wanted to stay in bed and let it pass, but the gnawing, drilling feeling of
nausea was building in my stomach. I had to get up and put something in it.
Treat it like hunger and make it go away. I pulled the covers off my legs and
and when I stood up the ache in my forehead went to steel blue throb and then leveled off as the blood pressure stabilized. I made it to the toilet and kept the light off and looked away from the dazzling sunlight electrifying the widow glass.

In the kitchen, I stuffed dry saltine crackers into my mouth. Good start, but the stomach demanded more. I put some whole-wheat bread in the toaster, keeping my eyes on the dark, non-reflective surface of the floor. I was going to make it. Still no flashers. The hellish ding of the oven toaster sent needles of pain from all points of the compass into the center of my brain. I cursed the makers of appliances that put brain-pounders into them and cursed myself again for not having figured out a way to silence the bell. Without looking up from the floor, I reached in and pulled the toast out onto a dish and ate it standing Keeping my eyes closed, I munched slowly on the dry toast. Yes, that was it. Nice, safe, dry, bland. It was working. The clawing in my stomach was muffled. Placated. I'd make it through. Another half-hour. If I could just keep the flashers at bay for another half-hour they'd retreat and try again some other time and I'd make it through the day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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