Conversations 28

We’re talking about grades. She doesn’t tell me hers but I tell her mine.

“You’re so freaking smart,” she texts. I smile at the screen. “Give me your brain,” she jokes.

What a novel thought. Images from the various Frankenstein movies I’ve seen over my life flash in my mind. The storm, the lightening, the seam where the head was sewn up. I laugh.

“You can have the chunk with migraines,” I text back. Intelligence comes at a price. Anxiety, depression, migraines, headaches.

Facebook boops, “Uhhhh,” she texts, “no,” she replies.

She got the choice and said no. I never got a choice.


Conversations (26)

“Do you have any drugs?” I hear someone ask.

“No, but Emily does,” I hear my friend reply.

I am all ready digging in my bag for my medicine.

“I have a migraine,” she says.

No you don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be here.

I don’t say it out loud but I think it loudly.

“It is from your period?” I reply, “I have midol and Excedrin,” I reply.

“Excedrin,” she replies. I pluck two Excedrin from the case and hand them to her. “Thank you.”

“No, problem. I get headaches all the time,” I tell her.

“I’ve been getting them more and more lately,” she replies.

I frown at her, feeling sorry for her.

“Talk to me after class,” I tell her.


After class ends, I walk up to her desk.

“How are you feeling?” I ask her. She looks a lot better.

“I feel a lot better,” she replies.

“Good. Don’t take any more Excedrin today, okay?” I tell her, “you’ll get a rebound headache.”

She nods. She stands up and pulls her bag over her shoulder.

“Here, this always makes me feel better too,” and I open my arms for a hug. She laughs and gives me a hug. I give her a squeeze and hope it’s just temporary, that she does not end up like me.

Conversations (24)

I look up when I feel her eyes on me. She has concern written all over her eyes. How long has she been looking at me?

“You all right?” she asks me, “you’re quiet.”

I realize I haven’t said anything beyond a greeting when she first sat down. It wasn’t an awkward silence, she was talking with someone else. It’s while he’s talking that she noticed I haven’t said anything.

I sit back, running my hands through my hair. I rest my hand on the back of my head, where it’s throbbing.

“Yeah,” I say vaguely, and shake my head, “no, no,” I give my hair a tug, hoping I could dislodge it or something. “I’m working on something fun back here,” I finally say.

I lean over and dig around in my bag and pop an Aleve.


It’s later when I sit back down for an impromptu study session I greet her with a wide smile and a warm greeting. I’m must more animated. She returns the smile. “Can you tell I’m feeling better?” I ask.

“Yeah,” she nods.

I realize that when I first met her, I was like I was in the morning all the time. Now there are times when I’m more like how I use to be, how I should be.

Conversations (21)

“How are you?” the doctor asks me.

I hate this question. “I’m well,” I reply automatically.

It’s one of those performances we do. You ask me how I am. I’m not really listening. I’m still adjusting to a new wave of pain.

“How are you?” I ask.

I don’t care how you are. Honestly. Let’s just get on with this.

“Well you wouldn’t be here if you were well,” the doctor replies.

I internally roll my eyes. You have to be kidding me. Jesus. Let’s just pretend.

I laugh, “yeah,” I reply.

Conversation After School on Migraine and Vicodin

“I didn’t drive this morning,” I say carelessly, sounding more like I’m stating an observation as I wait and look out at the parking lot. I watch the cars drive down the road, looking at their general shapes and the blurs of color as I can’t make out a lot of detail without my glasses, “I didn’t feel well this morning,” I tack on. He looks at me, looking for more details, “migraine,” I add, “I don’t feel comfortable driving.”

“Ah, yeah,” he says, “I wouldn’t either if I had a car.”

I chuckle. I have a car and I can’t even drive it. We talk for a little bit about migraines. He knows someone with migraines, his girlfriend’s brother. I ask a couple questions he doesn’t know the answer to.

“Are they migraines or cluster headaches?” I ask.

“I don’t know, I think they’re migraines. What are cluster headaches?” he asks.

I laugh. God. “Headache is really a misnomer. They’re so much more,” I laugh dryly, “They’re also known as suicide headaches,” his eyes widen. “It’s the most painful condition known. If her brother moves around and it’s short, it’s a cluster headache. If he has a variety of symptoms, over sensitivity being the big one then it’s a migraine. ” I feel pretty good about educating someone about this.

“What do you take for that?” he asks me after a moment.

There is a little hesitation. I don’t take anything because nothing works and no one knows what to give me. If I give him a name, I’ll have to explain what it does. We’re English majors, not pre-med or health majors.  The only thing I take is Excedrin and the occasional vicodin.

“Vicodin,” I say.

His eyes widen and then he laughs. The image of me, the stereotype assigned me to as an education major finally shatters. There’s always something about someone, everyone has a secret.

“Yeah,” I kick a rock, scoffing the bottom of my shoe on the pavement. “I can’t wait until I have a drug test and there are narcotics in my body fluid,” I laugh, it’s that sad, dry, desperate one that makes me sick, makes my situation seem so much more pathetic.

He laughs again, heartier.

“Well,” I think, “I have a prescription for it so,” I trail off.

“Oh,” he says, “I just figured…,” he trails off too.

My eyes widen now. For a brief second he just assumed it was illegal. The image shattered the wrong way.

“No, no,” I begin. After all the shit I go through, went through to get Vicodin, to get some relief.

“That’s what I would do,” he shrugs, “with that much pain.”

I shrug and pull my bag higher on my shoulders.  I hear the Excedrin rattle in my bag.

Conversations about September 10th (Three)

“I just wanted to let you know I won’t be here on September 10th, I have an appointment at Jefferson Headache Center for migraines,” it seems like I say it all in one breath.

My professor looks at me over the plastic rim of her glasses.

I don’t hide anything, I just say it all. The last bit feels like a confession.

“That’s a good hospital,” she says.

“Yeah,” I reply. That’s kind of the point. This is the last thing I’m doing, not the first. “I’m hoping it helps,” and my stomach turns again. For someone who doesn’t want to accept the fact that this might not work I have verbalized it.

Conversations about September 10th (Two)

“I won’t be here September 10th,” I tell a friend. She is a strange straggler to my headache journey, in both the classes where I first wrote about headaches and migraines. She knows a little bit about it, as much as I choose to reveal. She looks at me for further details. She knows I’m not one to miss class and with such advanced notice.

“I’m going to Jefferson Headache Center,” I pronounce each word carefully.

“To finally figure out what the fuck in wrong with you?” she asks.

“Something like that,” I shrug, ” to baffle the experts,” I explain.

“To be the next medical mystery?” she says, “medical experiments and all that,” she says.

“Hey if it’s going to put me through college,” I laugh. And if it will make me better, that’s a plus too.