Unsympathetic Nurses

One of my favorite very first posts. I recently submitted it to the literary magazine at my college to be published.

More Than a Headache

Eighth period was French class. My visit to the nurse was not restricted to French class but two o’clock seemed to be when my headache would make its presence very known and I couldn’t take it anymore. I only would ask to go if we were doing busy work, something I could easily make up. If my teacher was in the middle of a lesson, I’d suffer through it. My teacher would sign my pass book, allowing me to leave. She was fairly sympathetic, giving me a “feel better dear” but it lacked any real emotion. It did at first, it was true sympathy but she saw it as a bad habit, trying to get out of class. If only. I would make the short journey to the nurses office. The hallways were empty, the white walls bare. The visit to the nurse and the discussion was rehearsed. It would…

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A Year in Review


Well, I say a year when it’s really more or less 7 months. I started this blog in May near the end of the Spring ’14 semester. This blog started out as an academic paper, a research paper believe it or not. A series of vignettes describing my experiences with stigma associated with migraines, disability, the impact on my life, and my experiences in doctor’s offices while I try to solve these migraines. I wrote about that before, it’s a page on this blog, describing what it is. The earliest vignettes are the first posts on this blog.

It’s been a journey, still is a journey. Life is a journey, mine happens to have a couple bumps here and there. Everyone does. Bumps, road blocks and being completely knocked off my feet, same thing. Everything is a learning experience and I’ve learned a lot writing this blog. I’ve talked to numerous fabulous people in the same situation as me. Before May, I knew two people who experienced migraines and headaches the same way I did, and only talked to one of them. After May, that number grew exponentially, and I found this whole community of people on the same journey as me, all scratching their heads much in the same way as I trying to figure this out. Instead of screaming, crying in agony into the void, alone, I was answered. That is just incredible. I was able to answer back to those crying themselves. I never expected to find a community like this on WordPress, Tumblr and Twitter. Every day I am still dumbstruck in awe. Just thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I originally just posted a couple pieces just to see if anyone wanted to read them. It started out as an experiment. To see if anyone would read them.

I’ve grown as an individual in private and publically on this blog. In the last 7 months, I’ve stopped pushing myself to the edge constantly, to my limits and learned to take care of myself. I am the most important thing in my life, not my academics or obligations. I come first, my health comes first. It was a hard transition, always putting school first. It was something tangible, something solid, a paper or quiz, the hard I would get back written in pen on top of the paper. My health, not matter how much I felt it still seemed like an abstract concept, due to the fact that I cannot physically see neurons misfiring, chemicals in my brain going haywire. I’m taking the right medicine now, not misusing medicine that won’t help me in the long run. While the cymbalta isn’t the best medicine to be on, it is helping.

With 2015, just hours away  (for me), I’m hoping that 2015 will not become year 8 of my migraine and headache terror but the first year of recovery from them, my first year with low pain since early middle school.

Happy New Year!

Conversations 31

I’m waiting at the front door, watching my dogs sniff around outside. My hair is still damp from the shower.

“What are you doing up?” I hear my mom ask.

“Went to bed early,” I reply, “had a migraine so I laid in bed until I fell asleep,” I reply.

It was 11:30, not really early but early for me. I usually stay up well until 1, sometimes past 1.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“I went to bed before midnight,” I continue, ignoring her, “woke up at four and went back to sleep.”

“Are you okay?” she asks again, “now?”

It’s such a weird question at first, I’m up and about, generally in a good mood, I guess. It’s early but if I wasn’t okay, I’d still be in bed, sleeping.

“Yeah,” I reply and open the door for my dog. A wave of cold air washes over my damp hair, a dull ache in the back of my head.

Weekend Update – Holiday

There is a quiet lull that falls between Christmas and New Years in my house, where everyone is home and everything is relatively quiet. I’ve been busy, between shopping and baking. I am the sole person in my house who bakes. I made all the Christmas cookies this year as I do every year for the most part. It meant late nights where I would be mixing dough that needed to be refrigerated over night and baking dough that didn’t need that or was all ready chilled. I visited lots of family.

This was the first year I didn’t get something headache related as a Christmas present. In previous years, I got a head massager and a heated neck pillow, a vibrating neck pillow, heating pads, and miscellaneous balms or lotions. All cure-alls for headaches. I had a slight headache Christmas day from waking up early and staying up late the night before, from baking a ton. Nothing comparable to headaches and migraines of Christmas past. I think I was most worried about the headache I would have on Christmas day more than anything else. I was worried about driving to pick up my grandmother with a headache, having a house full with a headache, and not being able to escape with a headache. When my sister left to visit her boyfriend’s family, I was able to take some Aleve and lay down for a while. I dozed off and that seemed to help the most.

Slowly, I’m having headaches every day again, slight ones but there are still a  few break out ones. Not migraines but bad tension headaches. I’m avoiding taking medicine for them, just riding them out rather than curing them.

More and more of myself is showing through, as people keep commenting. I never notice it, but someone will comment that I look or am acting like I’m feeling better. I don’t know if its the headaches or the depression. The depression is much more prominent in the winter months, with the added headaches. On days where there is consistent sun, I feel better. I don’t know if it’s that or if I’m just in a better mood when it’s sunny.

The biggest struggle now is to separate my identity from the headaches. Who am I if I’m not a walking headache? It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

And a bigger question… will this relief last?

Conversations 30

“You’re feeling better,” it’s not a question but a statement. A fact. The way he says it, it’s true.

I don’t know how I’m feeling, I’m stuck in the limbo between feeling good and bad. Not pain but I don’t feel anything either. I’m stuck in the depression fog. I guess I’m looking more like myself than a walking headache.

“Is the medicine working?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I reply absently, looking in the cabinets for something to eat.

“That’s good,” he replies, “you’re more like yourself.”



The flashes of light are an unwelcome distraction. I glare at my screen, not angry at it but at the flashes of light.

“Stop it,” I spit as if that would work. If the venom in my voice could drive away the aura, halting the process in its tracks. The eventual nausea, sensitivity to light, sound and smell and the pain all knocked off track, never reaching my head.

The aura does not stop and the residual headache shifts to the left, settling. I double check my imitrex in my wallet. Still there. I sigh, defeated.