“Do you have any Midol?” she asks me. She sits a seat away from me in one of my classes. We barely ever talk. She has a hand resting on her stomach, cramps then. She’s asked me for a pad before but that’s about it. She must see me slip drugs from time to time.
“Yeah,” I mutter, it’s about time I take something anyway.
In my book bag, I’ve graduated from my the tiny roll of pills and carry around a small case with several compartments. I call it my little pharmacy. I pop open the part with the Midol, and give her two. She eyes the whole thing.
“I have chronic pain,” I say before she can say anything else.
Chronic pain. It’s a little more respectable than headache, plus I don’t get the ‘I know someone who has migraines,’ speech anymore. She looks sorry for me but doesn’t say anything as she pops the Midol out of the foil packets.
I pick three Bayer migraine out of the pack, swallow them with a sip of water. I put the case back in my bag.
Chronic pain. It’s not a lie, I experience pain chronically in the form of headaches. It’s just I can’t tell people I have headaches. They scoff. There’s a stereotype tied to headaches, a stigma. The stigma tells me to get over it, that it’s just a headache when it’s not. She’s not the type of person to tell me to get over chronic pain but she looks like she’d probably scoff at a headache.