(Title is from Mr. Edgar Allan Poe)
Pain creeps up my neck, across the bridge of my shoulders. Along the edges of my vision a sparkling and swirling gray mist appears. The muscles crowd along the base of my skull, jittering and twitching like tweakers cooped up in a jail cell. Everything is far too bright, too loud, too smelly.
I know where this is going. I have about fifteen minutes to get everything ready. Fifteen minutes until the world slams shut. I must make it dark and quiet and still. Everything must be bedside, within reach. Maximum dose of Advil. Maximum dose of Tylenol. Maximum dose of Exedrine. Nausea meds. Big glass of water – room temp! Nausea meds first and wait. If I try to take any of the pain medications before the anti-emetics kick in, I will just yarf everything up and have to start over.
Maybe this will be a relatively light one. An hour or two of visual fuckery and some vertigo. Easy-peasy. I hope to god this isn’t going to be one of the bad ones. Hours and hours of pain. A misplacement of where the floor actually is, while the room spins and spins. Unable to hold anything down at all, even water. Wondering if this is the time that something in my head just goes POP and my vision bleeds red.
When I was younger, I read “Firestarter” by Stephen King. In it, one of the main characters describes a headache as a nightmare horse screaming through his brain:
The headache was coming, coming, as inexorable as a riderless black horse in a funeral cortege. He could hear the hoofbeats of that horse in his temples: thud… thud… thud.
That is a migraine. All you can do is hang on and hope that bitch doesn’t throw you into a ravine.
The after effects of a nasty migraine are sometimes just as bad. Even when the pain dissipates, you are left with a hollow sensation. Like you are a scarecrow with all the stuffing pecked out by particularly malicious crows. Everything seems distant and noise echoes faintly in your head. Its like standing at the bottom of a well while best-intentioned, soft-spoken people lower comfort down to you.
I used to get migraines several times a month. Now, I am down to light ones three or so times a month. Maybe an awful one every couple of months. I suspect that decreased hormones (yay, aging!) and increased yoga (yay, stretching!) have made this minor miracle possible. I still tense in trepidation whenever my neck and head muscles go tight. Probably completely counter-productive. Can’t help it, though. When in the grips of the worst ones, it feels like the Lieutenant of Barad-dûr is busily chomping my brain to paste.
Smiling while he does so.
by Evelyn Lau
The aura is a rumor
of thunder in the distance,
building into a storm
that rattles the shutters
and the beads of the chandelier
before punching a hole
in the load bearing wall.