A Release Of Pain: Counting Down

I woke up this morning with a migraine from hell. I’m not really supposed to take any medications, but the doctor did tell me that if I absolutely had to take my migraine meds, I could. I ended up having to about lunch time.

As I was hanging out with my parents, I got to thinking about my headaches and migraines. I remember having one at a Paradigm Winterguard performance at Spruce Creek High School. I would sit on the bleachers in front of my Mom and she would rub my shoulder and neck trying to relieve the pain while I sat there barely conscious. I remember performing with them, and not remembering what I did.

“Why didn’t you toss the flag at the end?!” Joe Flynn asked me one year, when I completely blanked on the final toss of our finals run at UNF here in Jax.

“Contemplating the meaning of life?” I answered, but I knew why. I had a migraine and for some reason – for a split second – my body shut down. I stared at the crowd in front of me in a complete daze and when I realized what had happened, my body had gone on auto-pilot and got me to the end of the show.

I remember one night at WJXT, wearing sunglasses in a dark edit bay trying to concentrate as I edited the news. I had the door closed, the lights off, and the sound just loud enough so I could hear what was being said. As soon as my show was finished, I’d take the hood of my sweatshirt and pull it over my eyes and curl up as far away from the light pouring into my bay from the sliding glass door as I possibly could. I counted the minutes till I could go home, and drove home wearing the sunglasses in complete silence.

I woke up that night on the couch with no recollection of how I got there. Amber said she talked to me the entire drive home, that my words were slurring and I wasn’t making any sense. I don’t remember calling her, talking to her or getting home. I just remember that my head was killing me.

Most recently – we were out with some new friends, enjoying each other’s company. We left their house and I turned my head left without thinking, laughing as I was going to tell Brian how much I enjoy spending time with them when it happened. That roll of nausea in my stomach, the sudden tightness in my head and neck, the sharp stabs of pain at the base of my skull…oops. I made myself as still as possible in the car, covering my eyes from the headlights of the cars driving against us and trying to not throw up as Brian drove us home. I got into bed within moments of passing out. When I woke up the next morning, the pain was more tolerable, but still unbearable. I took my medication, and went to work anyway. I made a lot of mistakes in that show, and am thankful that Eric was looking over the scripts in order to make sure that I didn’t have anything wrong go on air.

Then today…waking up with a migraine that grew to be so bad that the last thing I wanted to do was anything that required movement, sound or light. I couldn’t finish my coffee this morning, and it took such extreme concentration to do anything. I started to cry when I got to my parents house and my mom asked me what was wrong.

“I just want my head to stop hurting. Is that so much to ask?” I asked her, crying quiet tears of pain as she rubbed my shoulder, my neck, my head anything to give relief from the pressure. I made her cry too, by accident. But I hurt so badly and was so tired of hurting.

“Tomorrow is the day all of this changes,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new beginning for you. I told Mary Jo that when she called me. I said you were testy because you didn’t feel good and that one of three things was going to happen with this surgery: It’s not going to work and you are going to be just as miserable, things get worse and you get more miserable, or it does and you become a different person.”

“I didn’t think I was that terrible of a person,” I said, sniffling. She shook her head, pressing the ice pack harder against my neck.

“You aren’t. But these migraines have gotten bad again over the past year, and this needs to change. The surgery is your change,” she said.

And I never knew how much my migraines, and being in pain affected the people around me as much as it did me. I tried to be less agitated when I have one, try to slink away so I am not lashing out, but that seemed to have affected them just as much as me snapping at them.

This surgery is important and while I’m terrified of the pain I’m going to be in, of the possible massive migraine I’m going to have afterward, of the chance that it won’t work — I’m also thrilled at the chance that for the first time in my life, I could live pain free. And I have no clue what that means or what that is like, but I can’t wait to find out.

T-minus 14 hours and 5 minutes till surgery.

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