It’s Sunday night after spending a beautiful day outdoors, the promise of unpleasant weather begins to sift through my veins.
It occurs to me just how frequently over the course of my life I glance up to the sky and begin to describe the various cloud forms, the way you can almost see the airflow billowing upwards like a rocket, and explaining how the ominous clouds could predict severe weather heading our way.
I glance in the mirror as I gently braid my hair, my eyes have glossed over.
For years, I look up and start talking about the sky, describing the shift of the wind flipping over the leaves on deciduous trees and so on as a way to allude to the change I feel in my body, the promise of pain and sometimes scary symptoms that are beginning to make themselves known to me.
And I laugh a bit with this observation, a few times people have said to me – or in reference to weather triggers – that perhaps if we just didn’t look at the forecast we wouldn’t know and the pain would never come. Except they don’t realize that the forecast often confirms what we are feeling and rarely foreshadows said event.
I lay down knowing storms will arrive in the middle of the night.
My face begins to tighten, my sinus passages slowly constricting as the pressure begins to shift.
I feel a bit like I’m falling or maybe just a tad weightless, not bound to the bed. The darkness around me is not still. I am not spinning. If I really focus on the shadows in the room, it too is still. It’s like somewhere deep in my brain is a point with everything else spinning around it. Like the little metal connector of a stand mixer, and my brain is the cake batter that is slowly being mixed making me feel the spinning sensation.
I know that if I just lay still I will probably sleep through the worst of it.
These symptoms are often a certainty, whether head pain will follow is more of a mystery.
I wake up at 3 AM, the lightening had begun to dance outside. I prop myself up against the window to watch as the bolts light up the sky and thunder rolling by steadily getting louder.
Eventually the rain arrives and the light show becomes sparse. I intend to fall back asleep to the quiet sound of the rain, but I do not.
Although the head pain never really arrives, the disruption in sleep from the storm renders me useless for the entire day. I manage to order groceries, but don’t feel well enough to drive to get them myself. It’s another sunny day with the promise of storms coming in late.
My brain is foggy and tired, aside from groceries I really can only conjure up the ability to sit outside painting my toenails and basking in the sun. As evening comes to an end, I can tell the migraine is in the background. I sit trying to scroll through the roku home screen to pick out something to watch and it’s all too blurry. I settle on something I don’t have to focus on because I’ve already seen it.
All of my joints, and my neck especially are aware of the damp, rainy weather. Sleep will be hard to come by because I can’t get comfortable.
In the early morning hours, around 3 AM again I begin to hallucinate as I toss and turn. I know that now my head is in pain, I see myself unwrapping my medication and crawling back into bed. I even feel the medicine perhaps kicking in. I awake again at 4 AM, entirely unsure if I ever got up. I wander to my bathroom to find no evidence of ever having taken my meds.
I’ve made a habit of leaving any wrappers, pill boxes, or bottles out and in a disarray since accidentally doubling up on meds back in college, so the lack of any indication that I took medicine was a clear sign that I dreamed it. Standing, staring in the mirror I couldn’t really tell how bad the pain was. I knew it was disrupting my sleep and that I was unable to really get comfortable, and if I had dreamt that I needed medication, perhaps that was a strong enough indicator to take it before it got any worse.
I awoke in the morning groggy, but pain steadily decreasing. Neck and joints still feeling the damp weather.
I actually imagined I would have a productive day. I begin the game of catch-up, planning out what I’ll eat, making calls to insurance and doctor’s offices to straighten out prescriptions, getting plants watered, and so on. I spent some time talking to my grams on the phone.
I feel fine as I make my way upstairs, and begin a short discussion with my mom.
She’s giving me updates about some changes in school with my niece, and as she talks I feel my weight begin to shift under me. The world got a lot smaller really quickly. I focus in harder on listening to what she’s saying planning a response, wondering if maybe my face has gone pale or my expression has changed. So far she hadn’t indicated that she could tell I was suddenly very unwell.
I notice the sunshine has disappeared from outside. I know that if I keep up the act I would surely collapse from all the weight. I cut the conversation short to go lay down.
I’m spinning again. The mixer has turned on at a slow rate and my brain turned to cake batter. A tingling sensation runs up and down my spine, washing through my body, reminding me that I must just lay still and wait for it to pass. History has taught me that getting up is a pretty good way to end up passing out.
All I can think about for hours is that I have to cook dinner tonight. That I’ve been pushing off making meals for a bit, and that because the month prior really took it out of me, there isn’t a single pre-made meal that I can grab out of the freezer. This mind whirring prevents me from drifting asleep.
I eat some pasta for dinner.
By now, the unsteadiness has mostly passed and I am left with just pain.
I think it’s important to clarify that these distinct weather related headaches do not come with the same set of symptoms as my migraines do. It is just awful pain, perhaps a bit of clunkiness as I move about. But I am not nauseous. Though light and sound may increase my pain, it isn’t the same kind of aversion I find during a migraine. Even the light of my Allay Lamp is too loud, in a way that simply activating my eyes increases the pain.
My jaw hurts, my teeth ache the most. The sinus cavities along my cheekbones are filled with rage. The skin around my eyebrows is incredibly painful. And as it worsens, I find myself in bed cradling my head hoping it’ll subside on its own.
Because I just took medicine, and by the rules we follow with migraine meds to either make our rationed pills for the month last or actively try and avoid any rebound implications, it is too soon to treat another attack. So this one I try and manage with frankincense oil – to knock me out despite the pain, an Allay Lamp to ease the pain a tad while aiding in sleep, and as many ice packs as I can find to wrap around my head.
Much of the week has now passed by, the same storm systems seem to be rotating and coming back front after front to deliver the next punch. It’s 4 AM again, now the wee hours of Thursday. The pain is only worse.
I must abandon my plan for not treating the pain, forfeiting treatment for the remainder of the week. I drag myself to my bathroom, a Benadryl might work. I struggle to drink water with it, as the pain in my jaw makes me not want to swallow. I leave the bottle laying on counter, unable to even get the top back into place, as my reminder for morning that I took meds.
It kicks in quickly, putting me to sleep in the process, and I awake with only a dull throb. The sun isn’t out, the thick clouds blocking most of the light, as I sip on my coffee wondering if this will be another uneventful day, or if I’ll slowly crawl all the way out of the attack feeling slightly human by midday.
There’s rain in the forecast the next six out of ten days. The ache in my jaw and teeth remains, though the searing pain behind my eyes has taken a break.
This is April with migraine.
I can only hope that soon I’ll have a restful night and a few days with a few hours to get meals prepared and my freezer restocked before the next wave of weather induced symptoms begins.