Nearing the end of my five mile walk through the green humid woods of Tallahassee, I noticed something on my sunglasses slightly obscuring my vision. I took them off and wiped them on my sweat-soaked t-shirt. Joe and I kept walking, the gang of children including my son running ahead of us appeared and disappeared among the trees, like woodland creatures. I had swum an hour that morning with another friend, done a respectable amount of editing, had my four-month teeth cleaning, and couldn’t refuse a long walk with my friend in my barefoot shoes. My t-shirt must have left a streak of sweat on my sunglasses, I thought, and I took them off an wiped them again. We kept walking. Five miles is a long distance, and after a swim and a dental visit, it can seem endless. Just as I said despairingly to Joe, “is this ever going to end?” we saw the park entrance at the end of the final stretch. I wiped my glasses one more time, without success. The right side was a blur. We herded the kids into the car, and as I began to drive, I realized that I had not just a blur, but no sight at all in my right eye. All I could see was a spiky neon sign in purples and blues on the periphery of my vision, and when I turned to take a better look, I couldn’t catch it, like some memory you can’t quite grasp. It was bright and clear as long as I didn’t try to look at it directly. It was very beautiful. It always is. I always wish it would last longer. It is my own private, tiny, exquisite hallucination.
I have experienced too few migraines to recognize the early signs, but too many to not fear the pain. I drove carefully home with my one good eye (and my hands on the wheel and my foot on the gas), and took two Excedrin immediately. I was sweaty and tired and thought a long hot shower would help. There is a moment between the aura – the blindness and light displays – and the onset of the pain – that is one of the calmest feelings I have ever felt. It is a moment of hope, that the pain will not come, a moment of knowing the near future – that the pain will come, and the sense of inevitability, and the beauty and simplicity of that is almost overwhelming. I stood in the shower until it passed, and until the pain started. After that, all you can do, as all migraine havers know, is to lie in a cold dark place and wait for it to leave you.
Some people experience real euphoria after the pain. I, unfortunately, don’t. I just feel relieved to be back in control, and greatly relieved that the fire burning the left side of my brain has died out completely, leaving nothing but a cool sigh, a complete retreat from the bottom of the abyss.
Until next time.