On Sunday I woke up in a headachey fog. This feeling was one I only remembered from long ago. It had been so long since I had felt so terrible I thought I must have been mistaken, that this sensation was just a trick someone was playing on me, that it would pass as soon as I got the joke, as soon as I laughed.
I did my regular headache self-care ritual, the things I do that keep these monsters at bay. The advil, the hot towels, the extra bit of sleep. But the beast inside my head would not quiet. I got up and went about my day, convinced that this was all still just an illusion, a memory, a glimpse at a picture postcard of me from another time.
I went to Jackie’s to pick up Max. He had spent the night with Jake. I sat and drank water and tried to hold conversation. I looked pale and puffy and not quite right to anyone. And then it started.
It has been years since I felt this way, the vomiting, the fury that runs through my body causing convulsions, the intense pain that feels like knives in my head. Its been years since physical pain has put me in the space of living breath to breath. Even in the worst of it, I whispered to my sweet self…Breathe, you will come through this…You have so many times before. Breathe….Now again.
A thunderstorm raged outside, thunder and lightening crashing down on one another. I thought to myself, how nice of mother nature to move along in empathy of me. As the rain fell heavy I fell asleep. And when I woke there was a brief reprieve. The rain had stopped. I walked home and collapsed into bed.
Hours later the knives came back. This time no warm towels, no calming tea, no amount of self care or breathing could contain the pain. I was laying on the bathroom floor shivering but needing to feel the cool tile underneath my body. I needed some relief from the fire I felt burning through my head. I kept trying to think of cooling thoughts.
Odette came in and declared that she was not OK with this. She was calling help. I was too weak to argue (much). I lay and whimpered while she called first one friend and then another.
In the hospital I lay, my dear friend stroking my back and soothing my forehead and whispering to me that my help was coming. I wanted to believe her and lived one breath at a time. The nurse came in an injected me with a pain killer. There was one last violent fight–my body versus me and then slowly relief started to set in. Tests, hydration, and then release…home to sleep a deep sleep. Home to slip away into the quiet.
I woke better than I had been in months. Years even. The pain was a distant ache, I looked like I had been through hell and back, and felt tired and battle weary but lighter. Something inside me had burned away in the fire, a distraction, a yearning, a seeking that had finally found rest.