Today is Day 4 of this headache. My neurologist is trying a new medication regimen that was actually working. Before the new regimen I had a headache nearly every day. Until this past Saturday, I had been headache-free for two weeks! On Saturday and Sunday I had headache pain that I was able to somewhat keep at bay with medication. I hurt and wasn’t at the top of my game, but I was functional. I kept my commitments. On Monday I woke up around 4:00 am and discovered that the pain had gotten worse–more insistent. I took a pill and went back to sleep. I woke again with the alarm at 6:15 feeling completely exhausted, and the pain had not abated. I snoozed and snoozed until I realized that I wasn’t able to go into work. I was hopeful that the pills would help as they had the past two days and planned to go into work late. Luckily when I woke again the pain had become manageable and I had enough energy to drive, so I went in for about four hours. I accomplished some tasks. But my energy gave out earlier than I had hoped, and I was not able to get completely caught up. I rested last night and went to bed early with the hope that the migraine would be over by this morning. That was not the case.
I remained hopeful, however, telling my employer that I’d be in later that afternoon. But even after I woke from my nap, the pain remained. Today it feels like someone has stabbed an icepick through my left temple. It throbs dully, an unabating ache that flares into agony when the icepick twists to remind me that the pain can always get worse. My mind feels fuzzy, and even simple things like preparing lunch or bathing take hours to work up to and leave me wiped out. This afternoon I keep going from feeling ravenous to nauseous, often in the same minute. Right now I sit in my sitting room with the blinds drawn, waiting for delivery food to arrive that I may or may not eat.
Worse than the physical symptoms, though, are the worry, the frustration, and the guilt. I have FMLA paperwork that allows me to miss work for migraines three days a month, but FMLA hours are unpaid and my sick time is almost gone for the year. I worry that the people I support as an administrative assistant will find me too “unreliable” to work with and despite the high quality of my work will ask for someone else to cover their needs. In a soft money environment, no work means no job. And then I feel guilty about worrying about my job because hell, at least I have sick time at all, at least I have a supervisor who sincerely cares, at least I have some protection. At least missing out on a day or two of pay will not put us out onto the street. I feel guilty that I can’t drive to get my cat the refill of his medicine that he needs. I feel guilty that I haven’t done any housework and my husband will come home from his business trip to overflowing trash and a sink of dirty dishes. I feel guilty that I don’t want to exercise even though I know it will help my pain, and I feel frustrated that yet another day has passed that puts me that much further away from the healthy routines I’ve worked hard to build. I feel guilty that I don’t feel like working on any of my ADF study program stuff and that I owe people work on projects that have gone undone. And then the icepick twists again, and I try to be kind and gentle with myself, but I find it so very hard when it’s my own body that has turned against me. And then I feel guilty because so many people are facing health issues that are so much worse, and I feel that I have no right to feel sorry for myself.
So that is the story of my migraine today. It’s much like the story of so many migraines I’ve had before. I’m grateful that this one hasn’t brought the ultra excruciating pain of some in the past, but there’s a part of me that would prefer the writhing agony if only I could pass out after a couple of hours and wake with the pain gone the next day. The almost-bearable pain that lingers like an unintended roommate steals so much more of my life. And then I feel guilty for not being as grateful as I should be.