I Can Tell, Because It Doesn’t Feel Like I’m Trying to Push My Face Through A Brick Wall, that Today Will Be A Good Day.
For the most part, I consider myself a fairly healthy person.
I quite frequently joke around that when it comes to my jaded little family, my sister may have gotten the Barbie-like good looks, but I got the health. Wow-ee. As a teenager, given the choice, I would’ve taken the looks. Hands-down. But now? I’m starting to realize that health really isn’t something to joke about. And, if we know what’s good for us (hardy-har-har), we shouldn’t take it for granted when we have it.
My sister was always missing days from school. Sure, I figured most of the time she was playing up her ailments — electively passing on a trying day of book learnin’ and real-life social networking (back before the days of Facebook, when you really had to work for it), for a restful day of hot soup, soap operas, and sleep. But me? I took pride in my neat little nearly perfect attendance record. Home was bo-ring.
Eventually, however, the person I had pegged for a hypochondriac started showing real signs of body betrayals. Where my mother suffers from chronic back pain and other ailments, my sister has had to have knee surgery, ankle surgery, a pituitary tumor removed (remind me to tell you about that sometime), and she has a hilarious-in-retrospect-but-so-not-funny-at-the-time habit of cracking her head open.
And yes, that’s what I call it when my body does things that I don’t get — a betrayal. Like when I come down with a horrible cold or my left knee decides to get extra rickety or my jaw clenches tightly all night of its own accord. These things slow me down — slow us down — and I don’t understand why my body would do that to us. So after I mention it to someone else and fail to get any sympathy, I move on and pretend it’s not happening. And really, this method of denial has worked for us so far, like refusing to back down to a petulant child, and eventually my body and I come to an understanding. Our agreement is that if I give her some fruits and veggies, exercise occasionally, and don’t skimp on the red wine, dark chocolate, and good cheese indulgences, she won’t cause me any trouble and all will be right with the world.
So it still comes to a shock when something bad happens. When something, no matter how temporary I know it will be, can absolutely not be ignored.
And last night, I received a tell-tale sign of impending torture.
I’d gotten home from a productive day of getting things done at work, and I was feeling motivated. Really motivated. I worked out, showered, preheated the oven for dinner, poured myself a small glass of red (still practicing moderation here, folks), and sat down at the computer to catch up on a few favorite blogs. Only. I couldn’t read them.
I squinted at the screen, where I could see the type trailing across the page — see lots of letters where letters should make words, but I couldn’t read any of them. There were holes. White spots where letters should be, and letters where white spots should be. Like a crack in the glass lens of my vision, because I certainly wasn’t wearing my glasses, and oh my god I remember the last time this happened.
I had been just a kid — maybe 5th or 6th grade, the last time this happened.
And I knew what was coming.
It was a migraine, my friends. And no. Not just a bad headache that you might call a migraine. This was a full-on, nauseous, punch-you-in-the-face, can’t-open-your-eyes-because-any-form-of-light-makes-you-want-to-scoop-them-out-with-a-spoon kind of headache. Like the worst frozen ice cream headache, times 100, that doesn’t ease up for several hours. And that light — that weird light from the crack in my vision — was my warning.
Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel… is just a freight train comin’ your waaaaayyyyy…..
As Metallica would say.
I tried to ignore it. To pretend it wasn’t happening. Because, you see, this was our deal. We had a deal, my body and me, and it wasn’t supposed to do shit like this. I couldn’t read, because I couldn’t see, so I turned on the television and tried to watch, although it turns out you kind of need vision for that as well. You know — television. And the light from the screen was a little strong, like someone had adjusted the brightness to an annoying level, so I sat on the sofa with my eyes closed, pretending that if I sat there long enough, everything would just go back to normal.
I called Justin on his way home to warn him that I would need to be heavily medicated upon his arrival, and please hurry, and then proceeded to curl up in a ball in the dark cave of our bedroom and ride it out. I only threw up once. He came home with some kind of pill — a magic pill — that eventually quieted the searing pain to warm embers, and finally I could think.
And I could thank.
Because. As horrible as it is to feel helpless and out of control of your own body, sometimes we need these not-so-gentle reminders of how good it is to feel good.
So thank you, body, for feeling good most of the time.
And don’t ever f*cking do that to me again.