Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Always an Adventure

How can I possibly still have symptoms I haven't talked about here? Apparently, migraine is so varied and complex, a person can spend years writing about it and still have new material from which to draw.

I was preparing dinner the other night and a fork happened to scrape along a plate just so, and I got that "nails on a chalkboard" feeling. A shiver runs up my spine, my teeth and jaw go tense, a vibration seems to run through every cell in my body as if I'm being electrocuted, and my head - if it wasn't already up and running - flares in response. The effect can last for several minutes to hours, and can be triggered by almost any scraping noise. Metal, glass, ceramics, rock, even wood; if it hits a certain vibration, I just can't tolerate it. Like motion sickness, this is another sensitivity I've gained with the onset of chronic migraines. For most of my life, it would have been an easily ignorable unpleasant noise, but now, the sound of that fork on the plate hit me so hard I had to sit down for ten minutes, wait for my head to stop ringing.

Loss of coordination is something I know I've talked about before, but not recently. Many of my symptoms wax and wane and being particularly stumbly seems to be coming back. It's funny because my body continues to grow stronger, I'm exercising nearly every day, and my coordination should be improving, if anything. But no, I trip over cracks in the road, veer wildly while trying to walk a straight line, I'm shoulder-checking the door frames, and generally walking into every perfectly visible, large object that happens to be in my path. And I've got the bruises and scratches to prove it. I'm just grateful I've been able to work out so much these past few months, I'm not getting hurt nearly as much, and my injuries are healing much faster than they used to, I can't imagine the world of hurt I'd be in right now if I was as out of shape as I was and falling all over the place.

Another infrequently-mentioned but often-experienced symptom is the chills. More than once this summer, it was more than 90 degrees outside, and migraine had my skin covered in gooseflesh and my feet freezing. Hot tea and a heating pad on a hot summer day? Please and thank you, when I'm migraine-cold I will cut someone for that heating pad.

And then, there are the brand-new symptoms. Yesterday I went to the beach, and it was low-key, but still: the sun, laughing and talking, walking in the sand, sitting in a moving car. I was plummeting straight down migraine-hill on the way home and later that evening, it got weird. I realized it was worse than usual when I kept being stopped in mid-sentence, mid-thought, and mid-movement by not exactly pain, but something certainly disabling and certainly on the right side of my head, near the temple. It hurt, but it wasn't the pain that stopped me, it was like a spasm or as if everything had stopped everywhere else except for this one spot in my head. There was nothing to do but clasp my face and wait it out.

My brain was clearly not working right, so when I saw my boyfriend in pain, I offered him a massage, not even thinking about my already advanced migraine situation. I worked on him, and worked on him, and then looked at my fingers and had the horrifying feeling that they didn't appear shorter because of the way I was kneading into my boyfriend's flesh, they appeared shorter because there was nothing where they disappeared. My logical side was totally weirded out, perfectly aware that the situation was entirely impossible, and maybe I should just stay calm and it would resolve on its own. But the hallucination wouldn't pass and after several seconds, I was having trouble not freaking out. I held my hand in front of my face, seeing the length of my fingers, nails and all, but part of my mind was still so focused on the idea of short fingers, that it was sort of overriding my real vision. I could see both at the same time.

I, of course, started to cry and told my boyfriend that I was having "visual problems". He immediately, bless him, tilted his head so I could see his face, directed me to look at him, and told me it was ok, which was really the best thing he could have done. It took a few minutes for the image to pass, and I still get the heebies just thinking about it.

I slept well last night, but the weird head-pain-spasms started up again this morning, a few hours after getting up, and today has been a struggle. I've managed to feed myself twice (once before it really set in, but I'm still counting it, so nyah), did some homework (slowly, but surely!), and finished up this post, but otherwise, I think today is a wash. Another one lost to the abyss that is migraine.

At this moment, I'm ok with it; migraine's frustrating, annoying, painful, and sometimes scary, but I've made some sort of peace with this ever-present albatross of weird, which makes it easier to endure, somehow. So, I'll be riding it out quietly, like a survivalist in a storm, secure with my knowledge that the migraine will end and I'll still be here. Fingers and all.


C. said...

Yes to the coordination, the chills, and yes to the just right vibration of screechy things. What is up with that? Sometimes I wish there was a handbook for persons with migraine, with a personal sub-chapter for each of us. The not knowing and/or not understanding part is a killer.

Meanwhile, those are some pretty intense hallucinations you've got there. If one can be impressed by another's migraine symptoms, then count me impressed.