Three days ago I had what I was sure was a sinus infection/ear infection. It was affecting the left side of my head -- behind my left eye. I stayed home from work the following day. Yesterday morning I was feeling right as rain jumped out of bed, headed to work early to prep for a meeting and then met a friend for coffee to talk about an upcoming project. The late afternoon rain poured and I mean POURED as I walked to my car several blocks away. It was oddly refreshing and freeing to not care that I was totally soaked. I was only driving back home after all. My husband was out last night teaching his acting class for kids on the autism spectrum -- last night's lesson plan included mask work. I arrived home, put on my pj's and watched the rain for a bit. My sinus problem was back and was really uncomfortable but had traveled to my right eye. And this headache that was coming on...slow down now. I boiled a stock pot full of water, added lemon, peppermint, & thieves, draped a towel over my head and listened to Shark Tank on the TV. Didn't really help this time...I busied myself with some research for this upcoming project and came back to earth when the phone rang...it was now dark out. I looked at the clock and realized I hadn't eaten yet. And really didn't have a proper lunch either. And this headache...just dull and unmoving. And while I am reading my laptop I seem to notice a flashing of the screen. Why is this laptop flashing at me?
Let's flash forward to the climax of the scene-- It is now closing in on midnight. I have retired to the bedroom, salt lamp on, diffuser with oils on, and have put peppermint oil around my sinuses. Suddenly/gradually (who knows) a searing pain is white hot behind my right eye. Damn it all, I know this all too well... and I fear what is coming. The smell from the diffuser that I normally find comfort in is making me ill...I turn it off. I have to get out of this room. I stumble my way to the shower. I turn on the water and get in. The window is open so a cool breeze is gently coming through as I stand in the hot water flowing around my body. I put my head under the water-- hesitating for half a second while thinking about my ears that have been aching - but who cares at this point if it will shut my brain down. Unplug. Disconnect. This searing pain. The water covers my head and closes up my ears. I hear that swirling sound - like what I imagine to be the sound of inside the womb. Liquid nothingness. I want to stay here for as long as I possibly can. The sensation of the water distracts some of the pain. And the sound is incredibly soothing. But after a while I decide I can't stay in there forever as much as I want to... Off the water goes. I realize I never turned on the lights. The only light is coming from a nightlight above the sink. It is beautiful but in the same moment terrible and distorted...I find myself on the couch with my head in my hands. My hair is soaking or at least that is what I hear from a voice somewhere in the room. It is thankfully dark. Aside from another blue night light. Now my head is cracking open. It feels like white light is pouring out of the cracks starting at my eye and moving back across my skull. I am being asked questions but somehow my mouth is not really working. Even breathing...am I breathing? Have I been holding my breathe? Now I can feel tears on my face and I have the sensation that I might vomit. I need to go outside. I leave my towel behind somewhere and I walk out into the open air on the dock. It is very dark and no one is around. The air is calm and cool and beautiful. And soothing. I look up into the night sky and see thousands of little twinkling lights looking down at me. At us. Brendan is standing beside me. I breathe. I stretch. I cry. I breathe. I can feel my feet on the wet boards of the dock. I am in my body again. I need some water. I drink 2 glasses full and feel like puking again. I sit? Do I sit? Somehow I am in my bed. I am laying on my husband's chest, his hand if firmly on my brain which has backed off. Then is it back again? Backing off...I am breathing. Just breathing.
Ok so migraines! Who gets 'em? What are the hell are they? Why do we get them??? So it turns out even the scientists can't really tell us that. I haven't had one of these bad boys in YEARS...and suddenly here we are. What? Seriously? So I have spent some time this morning trying to learn a little more. I was prescribed some meds many, many years ago when I was dealing with them on a regular basis. I stopped taking them pretty quickly ...Have you seen the possible side effects? No thank you! Not scripts for me...So here is what I learned:
What are migraines? Ok, so technically a migraine is a severe, painful headache. Yep, thanks Captain Obvious. "Scientists believed that migraines were linked to the expanding (dilation) and constriction (narrowing) of blood vessels on the brain’s surface. However, it is now believed that migraine is caused by inherited abnormalities in certain areas of the brain."-- Cleveland Clinic Oh great...abnormalities. That's never good...More from Cleveland Clinic -- "There is a migraine 'pain center' or generator in the mid-brain area. A migraine begins when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to the blood vessels leading to the dilation of these vessels and the release of prostaglandins, serotonin and other inflammatory substances that cause the pulsation to be painful."
What are the triggers? So obviously different people have different triggers...weather (barometric changes), emotional stress, sensitivity to food preservatives or chemicals, caffeine, tension, periods, missing meals, excessive fatigue, and/or family history. Great. My paternal grandmother. They suggest to keep a journal for this...I seriously can't imagine myself doing that.
What are Auras? Ok, here is where it gets a little woo woo for you. This is science, y'all. So no judgement. These are signs that a migraine is coming. They could include: ringing in the ears (maybe); a change in your sense of smell (yes), taste or touch. Visual auras could include: distorted vision, flashing lights (!), bright spots or lights (yes), wavy or jagged lines (yes) or temporary vision loss. These usually last under an hour and could occur before, during or after the pain. If they last more than an hour, you may be tripping...and then it gets really weird...
I hesitate to admit to any of these but may or may not have experienced most of them at some time...
What to do once a migraine starts? Hang on for dear life?...Well, I wish I knew a sure fire way for relief but I always start here... try cold compresses, warm compresses, lots of pillows in a cold, dark, quiet room, pressure on my head, showers, Excedrine for Migraines, sleep if possible and now newly added to the list - standing outside naked under the stars...
What creative minds are migraine sufferers? Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Jefferson, Claude Monet, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Charles Darwin, Virginia Woolfe, George Eliot, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Elle MacPherson, Carly Simon, Loretta Lynn, Whoopie Goldburg, Hugh Jackman...
Do you have migraines fellow artists? What do you do? #stayhealthy #healthyactors
I'm a southern gal with liberal politics who has worked my ass off and sacrificed a lot in order to be a working regional theatre actor. There are lots of working actors who are out here grinding without begin famous. And we consider that we have already MADE it. I really like to tell stories and solve the puzzle of the text. I LOVE untangling scripts and unlocking characters. I really give a damn about the planet and am an avid gardener. I love to get my hands dirty. I am completely fascinated by fellow journey(man) actors and how we survive and thrive. Ballin' on a budget, Baby. http://www.rachelburttram.com/