NaBloPoMo 2010 -12 -- migraines
This is not my typical post. It's not about teaching or history or anything else like that. It is instead all about me. I'm blogging it because honestly, when you only have your own body to compare with, it's hard to know what is normal. So I suppose I might be some freak of nature and you will all run screaming the next time you see me. But probably not.
This odd thing happened to me at the therapist's the other day. She suggested that my brain sounded like it had some form of ADHD, but then retracted that when I pointed out that I can totally concentrate, sometimes almost obsessively, on one thing for literally hours on end, once I'm stuck in. This is so true that I can actually forget to drink or eat. But most of the time, my brain is spinning. I can feel myself trying to shove things aside till I'm in something like 'the zone.' I am not so much able to live in the moment, because there is always so much happening. My students have been known to tease me because I can be writing on the board and talking and, mid-sentence, tell a student to stop texting or sim, and then go back to the same idea. Or I can be mid-sentence and have an image flashing through my mind that takes me horribly off course, and sometime after a digression into why they should all see Casablanca or read the Bible, wend my way back to the topic we were discussing. It's less like being a butterfly than having a magpie in control... "Ooh! Shiny!" or like the dog in Up: "Squirrel!"
What does this have to do with migraines?
Well, I have them. They come in many flavors: the kind with kalleidoscopic vision and bright colors; the kind that feels like someone took a rubber mallet and hit the side of my head; the kind that feels like my head's in a vise... any or all of these can be accompanied by extreme pain and nausea, although fortunately as I get older, it's more nausea and nagging pain that drugs can dull to where it's bearable.
But there's another thing to my migraines. When I get them, I become incredibly sensitive. I've noticed it before, obviously -- these things have been plaguing me for 20 years. But this morning, as I lay in bed, not able to work because I couldn't see and sort of wanted to throw up, I realized that my migraines are like exaggerated versions of what my brain is always doing. Migraine brain is freaky, because so many things are going on, and it's like I can see them close up. My eyes are closed, but there are still the flashy lights of the aura. There are so many things happening -- there's the garbage truck coming down the street, and the signal at the next block has changed because someone is grinding his gears moving from first to second, the little cat is purring, and the big cat's fur is rustling on the pillowcase next to my head while he purrs in a different key. I can feel not only the sheets against my skin, but evey place that my skin touches my skin feels like it's almost burning, or electrified. Meanwhile, I'm noticing and trying to focus, but that only serves to make one thing louder -- everything else is going on. And of course I'm thinking thinky things, about writing this blog post and what I need to do at the office and whether I'll make it to my gym class and how loud everything is. At the same time, I feel entirely disconnected. That may be the sumatriptan, though :-)
I have no idea what migraines are like for anybody else, but for me, they are all about sensory overload. The pain and the nausea are in some ways merely secondary discomforts. I monitor the pain because they tell migraine sufferers to do so, just in case this time it's an aneurysm or stroke. The hard part is the being so conscious of everything -- and then the exhaustion later, both from the pain and, as I realized today, all of that processing.
And I think I know why I feel like I needed to write this down. I wonder if whatever it is that makes my brain susceptible to migraines is related to why I often feel assaulted by noise that other people might not notice, or why I sometimes have a hard time compartmentalizing and focusing. hmmmm. Anybody else out there have migraines and recognize any of this?