It's been about nine years since I wrote on this site about the migraines I used to suffer from. As I read back, I wrote of attacks that lasted eleven or fifteen or twenty-two days, and referred to times three or four years prior to that when they lasted for months.
It's funny how you forget.
Well, actually, it's not funny, it's part of the deal. For me, a migraine isn't all about the screaming headache (which can happen); it's just as likely to be about nausea, about vertigo and about my head turning to custard so I can't think or remember or cope with two people speaking at once... I had Bach partitas playing in the car the other day, and had to turn them off because they were far too complicated for my brain to take in while I was driving.
Yes, that's the thing, I'm having another migraine. Day nine today. In the ten years I have been on topirimate as a migraine preventative, I've hardly suffered at all. In the first few months, as I grew acclimatised, there were one or two shortish bouts - and then nothing. Just occasionally, one will start, but if I take even a paracetamol at that point the topirimate does its stuff and the migraine stops. It has been - and pretty much continues to be - a wonder drug for me.
The problem was that last Tuesday I woke up with a migraine in full flow. My eyesight had almost fully pixellated, my head was in a mess, and I pretty much fell downstairs in my rush to get some painkillers down my throat. That's never happened before. I have no idea how I could have slept to that point. And, as a result, though the painkillers have taken the edge off the experience, it's all still going on.
Of course, as one of the things that used to happen was that I'd lose memory - I really can't remember what I used to do when I had a migraine! Reading back through the few words I wrote ten years ago here has helped. It all feels very familiar. I had forgotten (though several friends have been reminding me) how I used to use Coca Cola to help. It still works - as does coffee, which I didn't really drink back then. So caffeine is a definite positive. But chocolate is a negative - that makes me much worse. Sadly, the days of topirimate helping me loose weight have long gone; my metabolism adjusted. And when I don't feel great, I do tend to eat more - even if I feel nauseous. Which right now I do most of the time.
I had forgotten that as a migraine progressed I stop sleeping. That's a comfort; sleep is a bit hit and miss at the moment, so reading about it in the past is helpful. It takes the worry away.
And if I stop and do nothing for a while, I can then sometimes store up some energy for something I want to be able to do - but this energy store can be completely dissipated by unexpected demands crashing in on me.
It's just a migraine. It's not the end of the world. But I'd forgotten how powerless I feel when my head is turned to cotton wool and I am unable to engage with others. If you've tried to talk to me over the last week and I suddenly seem to have switched off - I did. But it was nothing to do with you. Or me, really. We'll try again soon.
We're in the season of autumn mists; for now, they've invaded my head as well as the fields around me. The other night, driving home on the main road, a young stag ambled across the road in front of my car as I was speeding along at 60 miles an hour. My headlamps picked out its ghostly form in the soft fog as it gently strolled in front of me. A big beast, with no regard to anything I was doing, it came from nowhere and (mercifully) disappeared again without causing a (what seemed inevitable) crash.
These days feel a little like that.