Saturday, October 6, 2007

Another Boomer Out of the Barn

For forty years or so I suffered from migraines.

Over that time, I figure I lost three days out of every ten. That's a lot of lost days. I was at emerg so often I had my own parking spot. (It's a joke. Although our criteria for buying a house was that it had to be no more than two blocks from a hospital and a library. That's true.)

Most of the time the trigger was barometric pressure, the time just before the rains came. I always had a warning, a kind of mental telegram. But they were deceptive little buggers; I never got a headache without a warning but lots of warnings when no headache arrived.

In the beginning I was able to get by with a little help from aspirin/codeine, then over the years that became Tylenol 4 and Demerol. I functioned fairly well on the those meds with only one side effect: food often tasted better. Go figure.

The trouble was that the headaches often came hand in hand with nausea, so I didn't particularly want to eat.

Anyway, the protocol for many migraine meds is to take them as soon as you get this warning sign. Don't wait for the headache. Some people refer to this warning as an aura. They experience it as a kind of visual halo, a personal light show, you know like an... aura. Never had that myself. For me, my senses went all atingle. I smelled perfume two blocks away; the light, it hurt; touch was tough, I couldn't abide being touched; I heard stuff. Like people whispering. In another country. Sometimes walking/pacing would help, sometimes lying in a dark dark very dark room would help.

When I got this aura or telegram I'd say to P: There's a boomer out of the barn. It's line from Hunt for Red October referring to a sub leaving its holding pen. There's a boomer out of the barn.

So you pop these pills and sometimes they kill the headache, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes the weather changes and they go away by themselves. And sometimes they don't. That's when I'd visit emerg for Demerol.

Men often get cluster headaches. They come in groups over a period of days so you're just not sure when they're really gone. Devious.

And you pop a lot of pills.

If you, and by you I mean you and not me, get regular take an aspirin headaches you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about. A white hot fireplace poker being thrust into my eye would have been a welcome relief. It would have distracted me from the headache for a minute or two.

And I had it easy. Only three days out of every ten. Some poor bastards live with this every single day. Some even have lives and jobs and everything. I marvel.

Anyway people who are afraid of thunder are called astraphobics. Me I'm an astraphilic. I love thunder. I love the sound of it, I love being surprised by it (although it's rarely a surprise). I love the feeling of hearing something Morg from Cave 12 would have heard. I get to feel all warm and fuzzy and human and connected and all.

Thunder was a telegram that my headache was about to be over. The end was nigh, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Oh joy, oh joy.

I don't get headaches anymore. I think that when I hit andropause, and things started changing, I decided to stop taking my pills and see what would happen. What happened was nothing happened, or rather they stopped happening. Spontaneous remission.

But P started getting them just when I stopped. Her triggers are Mondays. Go figure. So we're still a migraine household. I wish I could take them back from her, because I'd grown used to them. I'd lived with them for so long I felt different without them.

Anyway, it rained and thundered this afternoon, and I sat on my porch and watched the lightning, smelled the ozone and waited for the thunder.

Another boomer back in the barn. Oh joy, oh joy.

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