Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Joan Didion on Migraines

"For I had no brain tumor, no eyestrain, 
no high blood pressure, 
nothing wrong with me at all: 
I simply had migraine headaches, 
and migraine headaches were, 
as everyone who did not have them knew, 
imaginary. 
I fought migraine then, 
ignored the warnings it sent, 
went to school, and later to work in spite of it, 
sat through lectures in Middle English 
and presentations to advisers 
with involuntary tears running down 
the right side of my face, 
threw up in washrooms, 
stumbled home by instinct, 
emptied ice trays onto my bed 
and tried to freeze the pain 
in my right temple, 
wished only for a neurosurgeon 
who would do a lobotomy on house call, 
and cursed my imagination (...)
All of us who have migraine suffer 
not only from the attacks themselves 
but from this common conviction that 
we are perversely refusing to cure ourselves 
by taking a couple of aspirin, 
that we are making ourselves sick (...)
There certainly is what doctors call 
a 'migraine personality', 
and that personality tends to be ambitious, 
inward, intolerant of error, 
rather rigidly organized, perfectionist"

Joan Didion in The White Album

I've rarely cried during bouts of migraine, but this description is quite accurate in my case. The worst things for me are that I can't eat anything other than bread, and I drink water by the bucket. There were some tough days at work during the campaign when I'd go outside to read because I would go crazy inside with the bad lighting conditions, and the noise, and the glare of my MacBook Pro's screen. 

I tried to take walks, but sometimes, it didn't relieve the pain. I thought I was going crazy, that it was just some kind of claustrophobia because it always started when I stayed in for too long, but small spaces are only one trigger. 

My boss heard my complain so much he must have hated me by the end of the campaign. I cut caffeine, I drank green tea all the time, I took every opportunity I had to get out of the office, but it still wouldn't go away. One week, I'm fairly certain I had a migraine that only went away when I slept. It actually lasted an entire week. 

One morning, I almost froze to death because I was working from the porch in late October and it was just 30° at 7am. It slightly delayed the onset of the migraine. 

I read an article Cindy McCain wrote in either the New Yorker or the New York Times last year about her migraines, and for the first time (well, second time, because I sympathized with her when she got attacked in South Carolina during the 2000 primaries), I agreed with and felt sorry for her. 


I guess I have some of the 'migraine personality' traits. I'm intolerant of error, inward, I'm a perfectionist, and I'm rigidly organized. You should see my fridge, I hate dairy to be on the wrong shelf, and I can't bear seeing pencils in the same mug as pencils (I keep them in coffee mugs). 

********************

Listening to : She's Not Angry - Band of Annuals

1 comment:

Nicolas said...

"'m intolerant of error, inward, I'm a perfectionist, and I'm rigidly organized." ....AND you forget things !! (I do not say that you leave things behind - well, your mother do that ! - but you're well organized and you forget things ...)