Pop Quizzes

I had no reason to be worried about the not-so pop quiz scheduled for my 1 o’clock class, I still had this nagging worrying feeling. I read over the material again at 9:30, a half hour before my first class of the day and well over 4 hours until the pop quiz itself. I  also had the nagging feeling of my head beginning to act up again. I could only hope to shake the headache by 1 pm.

“I see you reading here every morning,” I look up from the text book. The bench outside my next class was across from another Professors office. Every morning, I would sit and review the material for Brit Lit, “Your GPA must be high, 3.5,” she smiles.

“3.8,” I correct.

“Good job,” she praises and slides the key into her door, “Miss studious,” she laughs and walks into her office, leaving the door open.

I go back to reading. My head throbs, wiping the smile from my face. I put the book down and dig out my wallet. I get two pills out and swallow them. I pull the book back into my lap but I can’t focus on the words. The pain is distracting and my vision begins to blur.

One o’clock sneaks up on me before I can realize it. That happens with a migraine, I lose time. It’s not that I lose consciousness or anything, the pain just blurs everything together. It’s when I surface from the pain do I realize how much time has passed before I sink back under.

I get to my class 4 minutes before it starts. I collapse into my seat, my head throbs with the movement. I fish out my wallet, get a half a vicodin and swallow it with some water. I would begin to pray for it to work, for something but all there is, is pain.

I got the warning to leave but it was so early in the morning, I decided to stay for my classes. I should haven’t even come to campus today.

I am paralyzed by pain but the part of me that doesn’t hurt is paralyzed by fear. Fear of failing this quiz. So far, I have a perfect in the class, aced every paper and test. Now I’m going to fail. It’s not for a lack of reading or studying, I poured over the material three times, it’s because of this migraine, this fucking headache. I’m going to fail because my head is at war with me, is punishing me, malfunctioning on me.

The quiz is passed out. Part of my mind starts to rationalize the inevitable failure. It’s okay because I have a headache. It’s fine because I’ve aced all the other quizzes and the professor drops the lowest quiz at the end of the semester. I’ll just study extra hard for the next one, ace it. Then the failure will be erased. It’ll be fine.

As I chant the mantra, “it’ll be fine” in my head, I feel panic turn my stomach, bubble up, burning my throat. Is it bile or panic? Or both?

I don’t hear my friend enter, she gives me one look and can see but I don’t know if she says anything, I don’t hear her. All I can hear is the pounding in my head like a drum. It’s all I can think about.

Failure. Pound. It’ll be fine. Pound. No, it won’t. Pound.

The pile of quizzes being waved in my face is what breaks me from my thoughts. I take one and pass the pile back, tightening my grip on them so they don’t slip out of my fingers. I look down at the quiz. Three questions. I pick up the pen and watch the tip tremble, my eyes sweep to my fingers tight around the barrel and then to my whole hand which shakes.

Pound. It’ll be fine. Pound. No, it won’t.

I stall for a moment, waiting for the vicodin to kick in, for the flood gates to open and the answers pour from my trapped mind. Another student stands up across the room, to turn their quiz in. I feel pressured for time now. There’s pressure inside my head and now all around me. I begin the quiz.

I completely bullshit the answers, hoping their vague and specific enough to count for something. My handwriting is nearly illegible. I hope that works in my favor too. I hope he just assumes I got it right because he knows I’m a smart kid.

At the bottom of the quiz there’s some space left.

I write.

“I read the material but had a migraine – couldn’t think. Sorry”

And turn it in, face down, and I feel ashamed. I can’t look the professor in the eye. I return to my seat and cradle my head in my hands, fighting back tears.

Pound. Failure.



My mom and my neurologist are discussing my headaches and I’m left mostly out of the conversation. Still being underaged, I’m old enough to be annoyed that he discusses my treatment with my mother and annoyed that he dumbs down a lot of what he says to me.

My mom is pleading on my behalf again.

“She dreams of them now,” I hear her say.

Earlier that week, I told my mom that I had a dream where I had head pain and it disrupted the normal proceedings of the dream. Instead of going on some wild adventure, I was left alone clutching my head in agony. I abruptly woke up to find I had a headache when conscious but quickly fell back into a dreamless sleep.

I was angrier that now I couldn’t even escape the head pain while unconscious. I didn’t even get that now.

The neurologist just laughs and sends me home with a muscle relaxer.


“If I were you,” my mom begins, “I would have tried everything, try anything.”

What is that suppose to mean? Four family doctors, a dentist, an orthodontist, a chiropractor, a dietitian, three neurologists, an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, and a psychiatrist isn’t enough. My wisdom teeth pulled from my skull, a spinal tap, 18 lidocaine shots, acupuncture, internal ultrasounds, an MRI, and I don’t even know how many blood tests, isn’t enough. I’ve been on more drugs than I can remember. I’ve dealt with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and I’m still not doing enough for this.

She’s mad that no one heard her when she was sick last night, to come to her aid when I cry every night and no one comes to comfort me and I told her that. She’s mad I was asleep and didn’t hear her when we don’t share a wall and the air conditioner is on and no one came to her. I apologized for that but there isn’t much I could have done.

“You don’t have to live like this, you don’t feel my pain. I am doing everything I possibly can,” I bite back and walk back to my room, another headache forming on the horizon.

I would solve this problem if I could, get rid of them in an instant. I would do pretty much anything to make this stop. I feel like I’ve done everything. She’s blaming me for not trying harder when she herself doesn’t have to feel the pain.

Liebster Award

Liebster Award! Thanks Maria and Skylar

First of all, thank you! I want to thank Maria and Skylar for nominating me for this award. Wow, I still can’t  believe people read my blog let alone nominate me for the Liebster Award. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Here were the rules…

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award
  2. Display the banner/sticker/logo on your blog
  3. Answer the questions the award giver asked
  4. List 11 facts about yourself
  5. List your 11 nominees. Supposed to be with 200 followers or less. No tagbacks.

11 Facts…

  1. I am a junior in college. My major is Secondary Education – English. I want to be a high school English teacher. I have always wanted to do something education related since I was 9 years old. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school (15) I decided to concentrate in English. I am very passionate about education.
  2. In addition to having migraines, I have asthma. I was diagnosed when I was 7 after a week long stint in the hospital before Christmas. Before my diagnosis, I was mistakenly diagnosed with bronchitis and/or pneumonia every winter. My asthma “trigger” is cold, dry air and live pine “Christmas” trees.   I also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This manifests as intense cramps when I have my period but other than that, it’s all normal.
  3. I am the middle child. I have an older brother, 18 years older than me and a younger sister 18 months younger than me. I am a lot closer to my sister than my brother.
  4. While on the topic of family, my heritage is Greek, Polish and German. An odd mix, I know.
  5. I am a Netflix addict. My favorite shows are Doctor Who, Sherlock, Fringe, and Orange is The New Black.
  6. I love literature and reading. My favorite genre of literature is science fiction. Nothing beats a good sci fi read. I also love coming of age literature and classic literature and all literature really.
  7. I’m queer which means I date awesome people regardless of what they have going on in their pants.
  8. I am liberal and a huge feminist. I go on and on about liberal and feminist issues for hours and hours. If I’m going on a rant, it usually means I’m feeling pretty good.
  9. I spoke about migraines at a composition conference held at my university on the freshman panel. It was the first time I didn’t feel alone with my migraines.
  10. In middle school and high school, I use to write novella length fantasy and sci fi fiction.  I use to do NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days) and won a couple of time. This drove me to choose the style of writing for this blog. Instead of life updates where I summarize what happened, I chose to rely on fiction writing experience and submerse the reader in my life with migraines.
  11. I hate the beach – it’s disgusting.

Maria ask me…

  1. Favorite comfort food?   Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
  2. Favorite childhood movie? Aristocats! (Still one of my favorites)
  3. Favorite current movie? Upstream Colour
  4. Favorite book? Slaughterhouse Five
  5. Favorite YouTuber? Roosterteeth
  6. Favorite actor/actress? Benedict Cumberbatch
  7. Favorite song? It’s a tie between “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers or “Migraine” by Twenty One Pilots – both a migrainuer’s anthem.
  8. Website you cannot go one day without? WordPress, tumblr, reddit or youtube
  9. Clothing article or accessory you feel naked withoutMy anatomically correct heart necklace or Converse
  10. Pet peeve? When people play music simultaneously and when people spell my name (Emily) like “Emma Leigh” or “Emmalee” or some other WRONG way.
  11. Number one reason you keep blogging? So others don’t feel quite so alone when it comes to this whole migraine thing. I didn’t meet any other migrainuers until I was 19 (after having them for 6 years) and felt incredibly alone. I want to get in touch with other kids who are suffering and share my story so they know they are not alone.

Skylar asked me…

  1. Three things you’re passionate about? I am passionate about education, English literature, and feminism.
  2. If you could relive a day or an event which would you choose and why? The first one that comes to mind is meeting my best friend.
  3. Coffee or Tea? Neither – hot chocolate
  4. Coke/Pepsi? Pepsi all the way
  5. Earliest childhood memory? Watching cartoons as a kid.
  6. Favourite pass time? Reading
  7. Most exciting place you’ve visited? New York City
  8. The last thing you ate prior to answering these questions? Peach Cobbler
  9. What’s playing on the radio now? Bad Blood – Bastille  
  10. If you could change one thing about your life what would it be? No more migraines would be the obvious answer but it’s true.

Here are my nominations!

(If you have all ready been nominated, feel free to either ignore this or answer my questions if you like. It’s entirely up to you)

  1. Sian
  2. this great ape
  3. My neck is giving me a headache…
  4. My Migraine Family
  5. Elizabeth

My questions are…

  1. What was your favorite subject in school?
  2. What’s one of the scariest things you’ve ever done?
  3. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  4. Worst habit?
  5. What were you like in high school?
  6. What are you afraid of?
  7. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  8. What is your favorite book?
  9. What one thing would you change if you had to do it over?
  10. What has been your biggest challenge?
  11. What’s your middle name?



All right, I think this wraps it up. I want to thank everyone again. Thank you. Feel free to answer my questions or completely ignore this.


“Okay, I’m leaving,” I am standing at the door, hand on the knob ready to talk out the door.

“What’s wrong?” my mom asks. She’s standing half a floor up, in the dining room.

“What?” I adjust my heavy book bag, “Nothing,” I lie. My head hurts already, again.

I just need to get into the car and drive to school. I need to do this even though it’s probably a bad idea. I need to do this, I can drive myself to school. I need to be self-sufficient.

I went through the motions this morning on auto pilot, rolled out of bed, showered, ate, packed my bag like a zombie. I grabbed cash for lunch instead of making lunch.

“You look like you’re going to cry,” she tells me.

I can’t even hide it anymore. “I’m fine,” I lie.

“I’ll drive you.”

And we get into an argument over driving. I want to drive. I need to drive. She should probably drive me. My vision is beginning to blur and I can barely keep up an argument as the pain settles in. In the background, I hear her telling my sister that she’s leaving, taking me to school, telling the kids she babysits to behave. She walks down the steps, pulling her coat around her shoulders and grabs the keys out of my hand.

A front of cold air hits me when she walks outside. I follow her, my head throbbing. I drift off to sleep as she drives.

Rainstorms and Vicodin

We’re sitting in the library, by a huge window with the blinds drawn back. We watch other kids walk by, some ready for the rain with umbrellas, other’s rushing by completely taken by surprise by the flash showers in the spring. The sudden rainstorm brought on a sudden shit storm in my head and it’s only noon. I just finished lunch which means it’s time to take whatever I have on hand at the time to make it through the rest of the day. When I tip the tube of pills over into my hand, she looks over from the window, and her eye catches the pile of pills in my hand. Three little blue Aleves, long white oblong Tylenol, broken Vicodin, brown ibuprofen, green and blue liquid capsules, white round aspirin. It’s quite a collection. I pick the broken vicodin out of the pile and pop the half into my mouth with a sip of water. My fingers curl around the pile when I notice she’s staring at my palm.

I swallow the water and say, “I have a migraine.”

It feels like I’m coming out all over again but for migraines.

“Bad?” she asks.

“Yeah, I just took a vicodin for it, you tell me,” that’s the vicodin speaking all ready, well the one from breakfast speaking. I should have gone home when it started raining but yet I’m here.

She looks genuinely surprised, her eyes widen. I guess I don’t fit the well-behaved, straight edge, drug free Education mold – well I didn’t really to begin with, not with my dry, sarcastic humor, my “fuck you” attitude, and my antisocial behavior but now I do drugs as well. It’s like she missed the whole migraine part.

“They’re bad and nothing else works,” I add.

Conversations (12)

The headache hits while we’re at the grocery store.

“I felt all right earlier,” I tell my mom while we’re walking towards the front of the store to check out. Thank God. “Now I’m not feeling too hot.” I put more weight on the cart, using it to keep me upright and drag myself around the store.

“That’s because you weren’t thinking about it earlier,” she sounds like she’s scolding me. Like an idle mind brought this on, that I brought this on.

Earlier I was playing with my five year old cousin. Earlier, I took a vicodin before sitting down to draw on the black top with her.

“No, I think it’s the vicodin wearing off,” I remark.