I had a migraine yesterday. I was out for a 7-mile walk with my husband, enjoying a perfect spring day, when I became aware that pieces of the countryside had gone missing. No matter how hard I stared at the right side of the house a quarter mile down the road, I couldn’t see it. The left side was there; not the right. So I closed my eyes and…there it was—a long and winding kaleidoscope eating its way through my field of vision and spitting it back out, fragmented and shifting.
So I opened my eyes to something like this:
Jim suggested we turn back, but I opted to keep walking and let the migraine do its thing. The headache that came with it was mild, and I wasn’t dizzy or nauseous. Besides, these twenty extra pounds aren’t going to lose themselves.
For a while I was nearly blinded, relying heavily on my seeing-eye hubby. But eventually the special effects drifted off to the left and dimmed to nothing more than a glimmer, fading until the sky and trees and asphalt beneath our feet all returned to normal.
Better than normal.
There’s something about the post-migraine experience that’s just plain exhilarating. The scent of honeysuckle mixed with apple blossoms and lilacs made my mouth water. The sky was so darn blue that I felt as if I could wade in it, or carve off a piece and roll it in my hands, and make moonstone. The landscape spread out beneath stage lighting, alternately dappled, then stark and dramatic, shimmering beneath a sparkling flurry of fairy dust. And the normal sounds of birds and frogs and insects—they were melodies, their staccato sweetness deftly intertwined.
I’m not a frequent migraine sufferer, so imagine my surprise when, this morning, another one struck. It started as a little flying saucer, the rich pastels reminiscent of coyote-dog art. Its geometric puzzle pieces, in constant motion, quickly expanded to a giant oval with a fuzzy center, the edges now fragmented and shifting while the whole thing rapidly expanded, until finally it split into twin anacondas.
And it hurt. I rarely get headaches, and I see why those of you who do dislike them so much.
So I dove into bed and convinced myself that watching the show would be fun—all the benefits of a psychedelic drug with none of the risks. And then…
I’m a massage therapist, for-the-love-of-Pete, and there are muscles that, when tight or in spasm, can exert tensile stress upon the dura mater, the membrane covering the brain. They can, alone or in concert, contribute to migraines.
My fingers went straight to a trigger point at the base of the superior oblique. Man, it hurt. But as I lay there with a couple ounces of pressure on what turned out to be exactly the right spot, the kaleidoscope serpents dissolved and faded. Within seconds, they were gone. The pressure in my head eased. The hint of nausea vanished.
And I was just a teeny bit sad to see it go.
Sure, I’d stopped the pain. But in so doing I’d cheated myself out of experiencing something unique and beautiful. Despite the discomfort, I would have enjoyed the dazzling images and the heightened awareness that would have followed.
I’m not entirely nuts. Even when a choice is clear, we still give up one thing in order to gain another. I stopped a headache, but missed a stunning visual extravaganza. That’s life.