Pain, searing and sharp, awakens me… and I know, there will be a storm today. It’s 9 AM. My neck burns, the very bones grinding, the muscles bunched up like fists to yank my shoulders and my hair out. The base of my skull sends ice picks into my forehead, jagged and pulsing. I stagger out of bed, unable to see, the very AIR of the pitch-black room glowing, resonating… brain throbbing like I’m a bell well-rung. Reaching for the pills, I fumble, blind and clumsy, shaking fingers sliding on the paper backing, unable to fold the corner up and peel it away from the plastic shell.
“Help me… help me get this open,” I plead. Someone hears my whimpered request, and the paper curls under my questing fingers, and my savior leaps out of its protective cage and into my palm. Letting the packaging fall to the ground, I reach for the second bottle, and, using my whole body to press the lid against the side of the dresser, turn the bottle until it pops. The lid falls to the floor, and I jerk the bottle roughly, two pills dropping into my sweating palms.
Leaning down to pick the lid up off the floor, my head swells like a balloon and the nausea rises as blood floods my brain and vertigo ensues. Suddenly I’m on my knees. I suck in a breath against the helplessness. I WILL NOT CRY. I WILL NOT. When I’ve mashed it down enough that I can stand, slowly, like a woman twice my age, I drag myself up by the edge of the dresser, and replace the bottle of Tylenol in its usual place.
Grabbing my Gatorade and praying that, just this once, I will be able to swallow something without gagging, I moisten my mouth, and then swallow, carefully, the migraine pill. I follow it with the Tylenol. This time, even though my throat rebels, I keep it down. I lurch into the kitchen and place the migraine pill bottle, now empty once again (always too soon, never enough of them to get through a month anymore), next to my computer. No point in refilling it today. It’s not due for another two weeks. My eyes get a little wet, finally, despite the fact that I know it will make my head hurt worse. No pills for two weeks. How am I going to get through two more weeks of this? I struggle to breathe for a few minutes, and then get control of it. “You can’t help it. There’s nothing to be done. Just accept it, and cope. You have to cope. There’s nothing else. Just cope. Just breathe. You don’t have a choice, so just breathe.”
The house is dark, I know, the black-out curtains are doing their job, and Hubby always turns the lights off before he leaves, just in case. It doesn’t help, but I don’t tell him that even in the dark the very AIR still glows. Halos everywhere. A three-dimensional world, full of colors that don’t exist, radiating at the atomic level, vibrating, singing, shining, abusing my eyes, my skin, my soul… If the pain that came with it wasn’t so earth-shatteringly ruinous, it might actually be beautiful.
I pick up my phone, and push the button to wake up the screen. The light is blinding, and I wince as another set of knives find my optic nerves and set them on fire. I grit my teeth, and open the texts up, click on Hubby’s name…
“Sick. Going back to bed. Don’t call at lunch. So sorry. Bad one today. Not going to get anything done. Love you. Turning the phone off now.”
Sent, I follow up… and lay my sleeping phone down next to the computer. I think of coffee, but I know that sleep might help, and coffee will make sleep impossible, so instead, I go back to bed, and grab the Benadryl. Two pills, another drink of Gatorade, and then I bury my head under the blankets, under the pillow, and pray.
For the next four hours, I drift, dreaming but not sleeping. The pain waxes and wanes. Sometimes I’m feverish – my skin prickles, my aura burns, my channels on fire. I finally get up at 1. I take another migraine pill. First time this year I’ve needed to take two. It’s overcast outside. I take more Tylenol with the migraine pill, and get up.
The cats need fresh water, and their litterbox needs cleaning. Crow has been crying outside the door for an hour, “Let me in. I know you don’t feel good. A cuddle will help. Mom? Why won’t you let me in?” I stumble into the kitchen and start the coffee. The stench burns my nose, and I back away. So sensitive today. Should have known this was coming yesterday. Sparkles all day, and I could smell that man’s cologne from across the room at the doctor’s office. Wish my anti-nausea medication had gone through. Can’t believe I have to wait until tomorrow for YET ANOTHER PILL to add to my daily regimen. Yet another side-effect conquered, probably only to cause one more. But at least my hands won’t spasm and jerk anymore. No more breaking things. YAY. I’m not really enthused. It doesn’t help me today.
I wash out the water bowl, and change the cats water out, watering the plants with the old water. Nothing wasted. I scoop the box, and tie up the baggie so hubby can take it out later… the hallways are all too bright. I can’t go out there… even my sunglasses won’t help. I’m wearing them in the dark apartment and the air is still shining like it’s daylight. Thank you telekinesis, for letting me see atoms. I can’t move a penny, but wow is it SO helpful during a migraine. More stuff to see glowing. Really. Oh Joy.
The coffee is ready. I disguise the smell with sugar and milk, and drink it as fast as I can. I wait a few minutes for the caffeine to hit my system, and make another cup. I do a few other little things… I’m dragging my skin around, everything burning, everything aching, my head bobbling on the inside like a doll on a dashboard, my brain swollen and complaining with every step I take – skull full of water, bruised and broken. My nose is running from the pressure inside my head. I slam the second cup of coffee, and try to read my email. It’s bright, but I just… need something, ANYTHING to take my mind off the pain. I have to push, have to keep going, have to function.
I stand up too quick, and my head spins. I make it to the bathroom just in time. The toilet glows in the dark. I don’t think I missed. My diaphragm attempts to rip its way out of my throat, bile and coffee burning all the way up. I heave until my muscles burn almost as much as my eyes. The whole time, I’m sobbing… my eyes are dry, but I can’t help the gasping. I know it doesn’t help. When it’s over, I sit, resting my head against the wall next to the toilet, too spent to even flush. I shakily wipe my eyes with my hand, thankful that this time I didn’t pee, too. The tile is cool. I lie my head on it. When I can stand again, I flush, and brush my teeth. I don’t brush the back ones, but I still gag on the brush. Listerine is my friend.
I get online, and I chat with a few friends, trying to take my mind off of everything… It doesn’t really work… we end up discussing my headaches. Hubby calls. I tell him I probably need to go to the hospital, and log out of chat. I’m forgetting things again. When he gets home, we finally talk about all of this – we talk about the seizures in my Medulla. We talk about the migraines. We talk about the memory losses. We talk about my fears, and my family history of strokes coupled with migraines, and the fact that my nose runs every time I get a migraine now, and a lot of times it’s bloody.
I nearly start to cry. I tell him that I’m scared. My nose is bleeding again, and I didn’t get the dishes done. There’s nothing pulled out for dinner. I tell him I’m sorry – so sorry… I’m such a weak and broken mess… all psychic all the time, all weird, all sick and helpless… I know I’m out of his depth and I’m a burden… I should have told him all of this sooner, but I was so afraid… saying it out loud would make it more real… And I was COPING, dammit! I really thought I was.
He shushes me. He tells me that I make him a better person… that I show him a different view of the world, the Universe, and it makes him a better person, more compassionate, more aware, and that it doesn’t matter that some of the places I go, and the things that I know, are a little out of his depth… He knows they’re real, and he loves me, and he needs me, and we’re OK… and he holds me while I shake, and finally admit to him… my grandmother and my mother both have strokes – my grandmother has mini-strokes all the time. My mother had a massive stroke before I was born. We all have migraines. I am afraid. I almost break down again. I almost cry. But I just… I can’t do that. I can’t cry again. No.
I know it was years ago. I know it’s silly. But we all have our programs we can’t overwrite. I don’t cry. Even in front of people I trust, it takes a mountain of trouble to make me cry. It takes my body breaking down, it takes utter helplessness to make me cry… and even then, I never forgive myself for being so weak. I DO NOT CRY. Other people cry, and I think it’s amazing, that they can be so strong, so open, so revealing. But I just… I can’t. I can’t do that. I haven’t cried except under EXTREME duress since the seventh grade, when a boy slammed my head into a brick wall for crying… and the teachers and principles took his side. “No, not him… he’d NEVER do that to a girl. He’s just a big, sweet teddy bear!” Blood was running down my face. There are lessons that, once learned, you cannot unlearn.
Hubby and I talk about going to the hospital, but decide to call the doctor’s office instead. They’re closed. I make a note to call again tomorrow. I’m on too many medications… we don’t know if going to the hospital will even help. I’ve never had one bad enough to need the shots until today, and I don’t know if my medications have any contra-indications for the shots. The idea of being exposed to that much light, to that many smells, to that many people who are sick, and dying, and messy and emotional… NO. I just… I can’t face that. I go back to bed, in the dark. Hubby does the dishes for me, and then he comes to bed himself.
When he finally falls asleep, his breathing is slow, soothing. I listen to his breath, matching mine to his without thinking, and my body floats. The pain comes and goes. I want to remove my head from the neck up… I’m holding my head in my hands again, rocking. Trying not to cry. I don’t want to wake him. I muffle the moans in my pillow. He’s got to work in the morning, and he needs his sleep. I don’t want to worry him more. He dreams of work and cries out, and I pet him and tell him that it’s just a dream, and that he should dream better dreams. I tell him to dream of the river. He mumbles “I love you,” rolls over, and drifts back into a more restful, peaceful slumber.
Finally, the storm I’ve been waiting for comes. The thunder is the first clue – a growl that vibrates the bones and sets the blood singing. Then the wind begins to pick up. My cells pulse, my aura sparks. The air sings. The wards writhe, runes flowing like water, shields dancing under the onslaught of power. I open to the energy, letting it wash through me, because fighting it just makes it hurt worse. Lightening flashes, my hair stands on end, and my nerve endings come alive. Adrenaline flashes, cells on fire… the wind lashes the trees and the rain hisses against the earth. Light plays through the air – every atom glows, and the spirits and entities, bound and unbound, dance in the Power. I open up the lines, and let anything that craves it soak up the energy, for later use.
The light show is fantastic. There are colors humans have no words for. The wash of brisk, dynamic, exhilaration that flows before and during the storm sends sparks through the walls of my home. The trees bend and cavort, tossing their leaves in wild abandon. The house shimmers and shakes, as the wind, water, and lightening have their way with the earth.
If it didn’t hurt so much… I’d be in awe. Instead, my hands wrap around my skull, and I hunch over my body, and grit my teeth while I pray for a quick passage. I used to love them… their wild chaos, their strength, their power, the amazing interplay of elemental zing… Instead, I go and throw up again, weeping at the rebellion of my body, at the total loss of control, fighting helplessness while in the grip of a shell with a will of its own that has NO DESIRE to follow the rules I’ve set for it. For the third time in a single day, I wish I wasn’t human – that I could cast off this stupid lump of broken clay and be FREE again.
Eventually, I make it back to bed, utterly spent, so physically exhausted it’s a strain to BREATHE. I lie there, listening to the rain on the earth, the wind that plays through the leaves of the trees outside before whistling through the windows to sing hello. I hear the sky grumbling and growling its fierce joyous primal song, and watch the occasional flicker of lightening escape the edges of the blackout curtains to flit through the room… a reminder that I really need duct tape.
Finally, THIS storm passes. The ache settles back into a dull throb in my neck… just to let me know… we’re not done yet. We’ll be back, our torture of you is not over. I know. We’ve done this before. We do this every time.
The world outside feels fresh and clean. My house shields are fully charged and singing quietly to themselves their joyful bell-like tones. The runes have faded back into quiescence, and ceased their dance. The wards are burning brightly. Even the Devil’s Trap seems to have been whitewashed.
I, on the other hand, feel SOILED. The pain meds didn’t do their job… and instead of being pain free and dreamlessly somnolent, I am clogged, choked, poisoned. I can feel my thoughts scattered by the drugs – emotions unbridled and irrationally flipping through channels like a bipolar schizophrenic on meth. My energy is sluggish and slow, vibrating in lower frequencies, disturbed, swirling sickly through my bodies, drowned by the chemicals I HAD to use to get through the day. I can feel the hangover, the “medicine head” swelling, floating, disconnected, scattered, not-in-pain-but-still-hurting numbness, like someone’s, just for a moment, switched off the connection between my head and my spine. Even my blood is thick and unweildly.
I stumble into the bathroom and take the risk of turning on the nightlight. I look ghastly – huge black circles ring dark pain-filled eyes in a face the color of a graveling… the only color on that corpse-white reflection is a splash of dried blood under my nose. I wet a wash towel and wipe the blood off my upper lip, thanking several Gods that my nose has stopped bleeding finally, but my throat is raw from the blood I’ve swallowed throughout the day, and my breath smells like camel dung. I brush my teeth again, still avoiding my back molars. I take another dose of Tylenol, and I wait…
Because my body is right…
It’s not over yet.
There’s another storm coming.
The pain is building again.
I used to love them so. But crying doesn’t help. Grieving doesn’t help. We are what we are. And every Gift has a price. This is mine.
It’s OK, though. In a couple of days, I won’t remember any of this. It’ll all just be a blank blackness. Hubby will be extra-attentive, treat me like broken glass, and I won’t know why.
I used to love storms. I miss that love. I don’t quite hate them yet… but OH, do I GRIEVE for their loss.