Monday, February 11, 2008

Status: normal

A few weekends ago I went to the hospital. I thought my brain was going to explode. I get migraines quite regularly, and I've learned to cope — some ibuprofen at the first signs and a couple hours' sleep in a dark room as soon as the day-to-day allows will usually head it off. But they've been getting worse over the years.

I'd been battling a virus, even worked from home that Friday, as the effort of wearing something other than pyjamas just seemed a bit much that day. Was it a migraine I felt coming on? The pain of it woke me up; the pain of it had me throwing up for hours; the pain of it had me clutching my head and walking round in circles, scared that my eyeballs might squeeze out or that I'd start bleeding from the ears. This wasn't normal.

Of course, at the emergency room they couldn't simply shoot me up with drugs, much to my chagrin; they had to ascertain what was the matter with me.

Why do you say it's a migraine? Because, well, it's like a migraine, only it's so much worse I thought it might not be. Have you ever been diagnosed with migraine? No. Have you seen a doctor about these headaches? Uh, no. How long have you had these headaches? As long as I can remember. Just how bad are these headaches? I'm pretty much incapacitated for a couple hours — the light is screaming, I want to throw up, sometimes I throw up, I have to sleep it off. Your mother never took you to doctor for these headaches? Uh, no.

Various swabs and bloodwork, extracting a sample from inside my sinuses, some basic neurological tests. A CT scan — more frightening than ever I imagined it to be. I faced it alone, J-F having just then gone off to address the parking situation. Like some wierd ancient relic of technology with a Myst-like drone. I never felt my heart beat so hard. What happens if I move my head? if I twitch? I feel a twitch. My heart is going to leap out of my throat. Will I disintegrate or explode?

All negative.

The doctor can't tell me anything I don't already know: It's "just" a migraine. You obviously have some virus; that must be making it worse. She offers me an intravenous painkiller, but 8 hours on, that seems like overkill. (But oh, I would've killed for some earlier.) She gives me some antiinflammatories and sends me home. I want toast. And I'm unreasonably — it's completely backward! — afraid to sleep.

I've been referred to a migraine clinic.

An xbox 360 has recently been introduced into the household. I am unreasonably upset over the fact that I can't play Fable as a female character. I am unreasonably obsessed with the Ratatouille demo, which is unreasonably hard.

Last weekend, Helena started making valentines for all her classmates. Make a list, select a card, match an envelope, line them up, choose a chocolate, line them up. Write a name, cry, "Mommy, can you write "R" for me?," learn to write "R," select a new card, write "R" perfectly. Add a sticker, add matching stickers to the envelope, cry because they're not symmetrical, find another envelope, write the names all over again, stuff the envelope with a card, a candy, a chocolate, seal it with a sticker heart. We do this for hours. All day. And the next day too. Everything is pink and red.

I've spent every day since telling Helena, really, I think it's too early, we can't deliver them just yet, Valentine's Day isn't for more than another week, no one will even recognize what it's for, wait, didn't you forget someone on your list, you can't take them till they're all ready, you can't take some for some kids and leave one little girl out, that wouldn't be nice, it's still too early, if you take them now what will you have for your friends on Valentine's Day, maybe you should wait. I buy some time: one morning I suggest we take the leftover gummie hearts — we can leave one for everyone in their cubbyhole. She may have finally forgotten about the cards.

I've been reading faster than I can document it. No, not exactly — I'm managing to find time to read, at the expense of sleep, but can't find time or energy to write about it. Which is a shame, because The Painter of Battles, by Arturo Perez-Reverte was extraordinary, even though I don't think it exactly works as a novel; it's a powerful meditation on both art and war, and I recommend it highly.

Also read last week: A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, by Janna Levin, of which I'd known absolutely nothing but to which I was committed it from the moment I read its title. Madman! Turing machines! Actually it's a fictional account of certain events in the lives of Kurt Goodel and Alan Turing. Geeky mathematicians!

(More on these books after I rein life in and dictate some terms on how my time gets allotted.)

"If the world were to end tomorrow what book would you read today?" is the question posed at Reading Matters. Answer: the book I've just passed the midway mark of: Zig Zag, by José Carlos Somoza, a real page turner! (What if you could, with complex camera arrangements based in string theory, see the past?) That is, the end of the world wouldn't change my reading habits at all, except that I'd probably have no time for reading, what with engaging in wierd and complex craft projects with a 5-year-old and trying to recpture some romance with my other half before it all goes up in smoke, but I'd really, really like to know how this book ends. I should go find out now.


Diana said...

Oh, Isabella - good luck with the headaches. That sounds awful.

Melanie said...

I do hope they find out what's causing those awful headaches so you can avoid them in future. My sister had terrible migraine-like headaches until she had her thyroid levels checked.

As for books, both the ones you mention sound utterly fascinating. The math one especially; I'm going to look for it.

patricia said...

What a post! I loved reading it, even the horrid description of your migraine and your tests.

I do hope you get to the bottom of the head-y pain.

And I hope Helena has a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Stefanie said...

So sorry about your migraines. How scary all that was at the hospital. i hope the clinic will be able to find a way to help you. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines sound intriguing. I like geeky mathematicians.

Bybee said...

I got a sympathy headache reading your post.