I'm on Day 3 of a migraine. It's a myth that all migraines are the kind where someone must stay in bed with all the lights off and absolute silence. Some are like that, and then some are the kind I typically get. I've had the other kind, with the last one happening in July 2002. It was the worst pain I've ever experienced. For five grueling hours, it felt like my brain was swelling while my skull simultaneously was shrinking. I could see but not really and hear but not really. Wiggling my toes hurt my head. Breathing hurt. I had to force myself not to cry because that hurt, too. I contemplated going to the emergency room, but I knew I couldn't walk to the car and the thought of EMTs trying to carry me out of our second floor apartment didn't sound any better. I waited it out and it broke. I thank the stars that it hasn't happened since.
This migraine, and the others I get on a monthly basis, are milder, but tend to last longer. It's been 48 hours since I first woke up Monday morning with this one and after 25 years of them, I know enough to expect it with me most of the day.
I knew it was coming on Saturday when I first began to experience Strawberry Jelly Head. The back of my head, right around my brain stem, starts to feel like it's turning into strawberry jelly. Not jam and not any other flavor, strawberry jelly. I tried to rest on Saturday and Sunday, but clearly that didn't help.
When I woke up Monday morning, my entire head was in pain. I felt like I had been hit in the back of the head and the face with a bat. While the pain is mostly always concentrated on the left side, it often radiates everywhere to varying degrees each time. Now, at Day 3, it's back to the left side, but Monday and Tuesday it was everywhere.
The strangest part is that the pain moves in waves throughout the day like an oscillating fan. If the intensity of all over pain lets up long enough, I can start to feel the smaller subsections of pain. The feeling of kabob skewers working their way through my sinus cavities and into the backs of my eyeballs, which feel just as swollen as everything else in my head. My ears feel like someone is hammering nails straight through them, throbbing and aching. Every step I take sends shooting pains up my neck, through the back of my head, straight to the top.
Once the main event ends, possibly because I've been sufficiently medicated or caffeinated, or it starts to rain (yes, that's always a factor), or any number of other factors occur, there's the lingering after effects I can count on for at least the rest of the day. The fatigue is unbelievable. It is exhausting to be in that much pain.
Perhaps the most disturbing though is Marshmallow Brain. Have you ever microwaved a marshmallow? First it gets really big. You keep your finger on the stop button just in case, but you don't press it because you're daring that marshmallow to see just how big it will get before it explodes. Once the microwave stops, the marshmallow suddenly deflates, becoming a crumpled shell of what it once was.
During the migraine, when everything in my skull feels far too large to fit in there comfortably, I always have a slight worry that this might be the day my eyeballs actually pop. In time though, everything starts to deflate and my head-contents now feel too small.
This is where I am now. My head feels like it's leaking, but it doesn't really Hurt with a capital H. If I stand too quickly or turn my head too abruptly, something in my head feels like it's shifting and clunking into the sides of my skull. I can eat again without feeling sick and my sinuses loosen the strangle hold they've had and for a brief moment I fear I'm getting a cold on top of everything else. I can think more clearly, although still a little more slowly than usual, but I'm relieved to no longer have the confusion or inability to finish sentences which usually accompanies the more intense days. My neck, shoulders and eyeballs are sore from the stress, but, again, this pales in comparison to the ravages of the actual migraine.
Update: I wrote this earlier this morning, but then things got worse again. Now, much later in the day, I'm feeling a little more human. This better be the end of it.
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