I am no stranger to headaches. I lived with one for a little over a month and a half in January/February/March, a constant pain concentrated between my temples, radiating through my brain. I lived in sunglasses and earphones (often with no music just to drown out the noise). I took stock out in Tylenol and Excedrin, since I went through a bottle (of each) a week, screw my liver or kidneys. I had mini nervous breakdowns. I cried in bathtubs. I sent text messages to friends saying "I wish I could stop my heart from beating for just one second so the pain will stop." I cried at work, I cried at home, I cried on the subway and in my car. Light made my eyes feel like they were bleeding, a whisper pulsed in my ears with the grace of a hammer. I ended my day with two pills and started it the next with more.
And then there were the flairs. The blinding moments when the pain was so bad and so extreme that I called people and said, I need to go to the Hospital. Or get in the car and start to drive myself to the emergency room, only to realize how loud, bright and crowded that place would be. So I would go back inside, and try to numb whatever senses I could.
The rational part of my mind knew what I was saying/thinking/doing was irrational. It would say things like, you don't really want to stop your heart. But I also knew that the irrational part of my mind was winning. My rational mind was shutting down, giving up, saying; "I surrender. Just make it stop". Normal tasks became difficult, hard tasks became impossible, it took all my concentration, and will power to wake up in the morning and go to work, to sit in front of a computer with the brightness turned all the way off, and try to do my job. And I felt stupid, slow, like my brain was getting scrambled, and I was loosing what made me who I am. I felt like I was loosing my mind, and in several ways I was. No sane person thinks about stopping there heart to stop there head from hurting. I felt my grip slipping.
It took a month to get in to see my Primary care physician, at no fault of hers, more simply that the primary care physician that my insurance assigned to me no longer practiced medicine. So after trying and failing to get a hold of her, I called the insurance company to switch, only to be told all changes will begin at the start of the next month. A full two weeks away. I broke down. Then tried again, got a more friendly agent, who made the change. I called the new doctor, who told me they could see me in two weeks. I broke down again. Then tried again, and after crying into the phone, got an appointment in two days. A prescription pain killer, and an MRI later, I saw a neurologist. The neurologist ordered blood tests, and put me on a steroid anti-inflammatory with the prescription pain killer, and then, by the time I finished the treatment, the pain was gone.
I wish I could say it was like waking up from a dream, that suddenly everything was normal again. It wasn't. There was no fog clearing moment. I couldn't see clearer now, the rain wasn't gone. The pain was, but the foggy, slow, stupid feeling remained. I felt like I was having trouble doing normal tasks. I felt like doing my normal job took me twice as long as it had pre headache. My focus was shot. My body was drained. My mind was in pieces.
I had moments of doubt, when I would look at a task and say, this should take me X amount of time, then when it took me twice that, I would wonder, am I really this slow, or am I remembering my abilities incorrectly. Was I ever that fast, organized, on top of things? I felt like a stroke victim.
My coworkers were supper understanding throughout the entire ordeal. They would ask me if they could help. They would stay out of my way when I ran from the office in tears. They never expressed disappointment in my speed, or frustration in my abilities. But it was the self doubt, the internal feeling of failure that I couldn't shake.
I have not written creatively since mid way through February. My brain couldn't, wouldn't, grasp the words. Until this weekend. I went to a cafe and started to write.
It has taken me four plus months to recover. I still get occasional headaches, like the one I have right now, which is like a tickle of pain on the inside of my skull, and I cant always shake that tiny bit of doubt that plagues me with insecurity and uncertainty, that I am still not quite what I was before. Every headache causes me a moment of panic, what will I do if this one never goes away, but now, Six months after it started, four months after it stopped. I am beginning to feel normal again.
I never wrote about this headache before, I liked to pretend that if I didn't voice my concerns about loosing myself, loosing my intelligence, it would just go away. That it wouldn't be true. That if I never said it out loud it would magically go away. But I don't think that's ever the case.