I was twenty five years old when I had my first migraine.
At first, I didn’t know what was going on; I thought a rampant flu and gastro bug had attacked me from behind as I stood swaying uncertainly on the Elizabeth Street tramline, hoping like hell my forehead wouldn’t smack against the concertina doors before they slapped open.
A year later, my wedding day was marred by fears that a mongrel migraine would emerge to ruin it. The resulting photos show a woman who is puffy, clearly unwell and not yet aware that a pesky and explainable brain tumour was rapidly expanding at the base of her brain behind her eyes.
The tumour is tiny now and despite it messing with my reproductive system, baby Sapphire emerged - along with a scientific paper about its unprobability from the Endocrinology unit at the Royal Melbourne hospital. Yes, Sapphire the zygote is a celebrity in the Australian Journal of Medicine, but the diagrams they chose to accompany their article aren’t very exciting unless you particularly love graphs and hormonal charts.
Despite this medical improvement, Mr Migraine decided that he likes me, finds me endlessly entertaining and easy to stir up. He visits me whenever he chooses and there’s nothing I can do about it. Well, there are a few things like don't dillydally but take the medication as soon Mr knocks on the door, lie down in the dark, grab a sick bucket for easy hurling and assume that the next eight hours will be dead and dusted as far as productivity, fun and standing up goes.
Today however, Mr Migraine has timed his visit with the cold I’ve caught from Love Chunks and Sapphire. That is the reality of living with people you like – if they get a disease, then you’re going to get it. Unless you live in a separate wing and look like a masked-Michael Jackson on a publicised shopping expedition. Even when I’m de-lousing Sapphire I love the warmth of her hair and being so close to her so that I can even see the tiny blonde down on her nose and those unbelievably soft cheeks and end up kissing the top of her head: so what chance do I have against germ sharing?
So, as my head rapidly fills with phlegm, my brain has in turn swollen to accommodate a migraine. This produces a sensation not unlike a dinghy attempting to inflate itself inside a bowling ball that’s already half full of maple syrup. Add dilated blood vessels, highly-strung nerve endings, two blocked ear drums, a couple of leaky nostrils and a shivering body ache and you can see that my morning has been a real barrel of laughs.
Luckily though, Mr Migraine seems to be on half-strength and has turned down his anger to mid-range, which means I can get out of bed, have that second cup of instant coffee (erk, but it's easier to make than spending ten minutes dancing in front of the Gaggia and a helluva lot quieter) to open up my eyes and contemplate having a shower…….
.......but trust me to enjoy the steaming hot water and use the (mostly) decorative back-scrubbing brush too much to forget that automatically shaking my wet hair free of drops like a freshly-bathed dog is NOT going to help the migraine much.
Such mindless stupidity causes me to slump over the edge of the bathtub, legs shaky now, as I stagger around with my eyes closed in agony trying to grope for my towel. PHARK that hurts and my brain is still sliding inside its tenuous container from side-to-side like an oversized oil clump in a lava lamp. The bathmat slips from underneath me, so I end up doing a rather graphic semi-split in the nude before grabbing at the door knob and half-swinging myself outside into the freezing hallway.
I hurl myself onto the bed, still wet, and cram my aching head amongst the pillows. Yes, my arse is up in the air like an x-rated bike rack, but I don’t care: the pressure on my skull sort of squashes away the pain temporarily and with the blood rushing downwards it is better to remain in this position until the cold air around my exposed extremities gets too much to bear.
It is only when I’m in this position and feel how much I’ve wet the pillows that I then start to think: ‘Are the bedroom blinds open?’