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Meg's Blog

Migraines

It’s kind of convenient that all this surgical drama erupted during my family’s visit last week here in Key West, because this week I was scheduled to have all these medical tests anyway. So as a consequence, today I knew exactly where to go for my MRI.

I got an MRI because I have been suffering from migraines. Not just lately. I have been getting them since I turned thirty. They are hormonal and have been passed down from generation to generation throughout my family, like an ancient sword.

Only instead of a sword, I get a blinding pain in the left eye. Thanks, Grandma!

Only the womenfolk in my family have been blessed with this particular genetic gift, and apparently, it goes away as soon as they hit menopause. I just had my eggs tested to see if they were drying up yet, and sadly, I have some years to go before I can declare myself menopausal and thus migraine free.

So I have put my fate in the hands of a neurologist who will hopefully be able to help keep me from having to spend each and every day with either an aura (for the uninitiated, an aura is a white Pacman-type shape that appears in one’s line of vision and grows steadily larger for half an hour until you can’t see what’s going on either on your computer screen or Judging Amy–which isn’t annoying at all–right before a migraine) or an actual stabbing headache.

There are many triggers for migraines, including PMS, hunger, thirst, weather changes, lack of sleep, travel, cigarette smoke or perfume, stress, and many of my favorite foods, such as chocolate, nuts, cheese, cola, and alcohol.

Another trigger is, of course, staring all day at a computer screen. That’s why so many authors suffer from migraines. The more books you write, apparently, the more migraines you get. As I have four books coming out this month alone, you can only imagine the amount of migraines I get (a lot).

I get migraines from pretty much all of the triggers mentioned above, and have therefore given up smoky bars, cologne and scented moisturizers, alcohol, and aged cheeses.

But over my dead body will I give up writing. Not to mention TaB.

Thus the need for preventive treatment.

For many years, I have been taking triptans, which have successfully alleviated my migraines. Triptans do not PREVENT migraines, however. They only make them go away once one starts.

How can you tell if your headache is actually a migraine? Well, for one thing, there is the Pacman you see floating in front of you about an hour before the pain hits. Then there is the fact that only a triptan will make it go away.

Then there is the blinding pain that to me is like having someone hold a sharpened pencil right above my left eye, right on the lid, and slowly, slowly press down over the course of several hours. Or days.

Anyway, for some reason lately I have gone from getting a migraine once or twice a week to getting one every single day. EVEN THOUGH I HAVE STOPPED DRINKING ALCOHOL AND EATING BLUE CHEESE. I pull all the perfume inserts out of my magazines BEFORE I read them, and if someone starts smoking, I leave the room. WHAT ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? QUIT WRITING????

This is totally unfair, and so I went to the top neurologist in Key West and demanded a solution.

Even though I explained about my genetic gift–and how all I want is a drug or treatment method to prevent getting migraines at all, so I can still write, drink TaB, and enjoy a glass of wine at dinner with my husband the chef–in order to rule out a brain tumor, the doctor has me going for all these tests. Which, as I said earlier, is convenient, because I just spent most of last week in and out of the Lower Keys Medical Center, so I know where everything is (also, not to eat the tuna salad).

Yesterday was my EEG, or electroencephalogram, during which a man glued all these electrodes to my head, including in my hair, then flashed a strobe light in my face for half an hour.

This was not annoying at all. And—SURPRISE!—triggered a migraine.

When I came out of the testing room, the receptionist looked at my hair and said, “I hope you weren’t planning on going out for lunch,” and because that’s exactly what I HAD been planning on doing, I said, “Why?” and she said, “Because it looks like a flock of pelicans just pooped on your head.”

I didn’t believe her until I went out to where He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog was waiting for me. He frowned and went, “Crazytop, what HAPPENED?”

It took me half an hour to wash all the gobs of Vaseline out of my hair. And there is a scab on my forehead from where the technician swabbed a little too hard.

Today was my MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging. If you have ever seen a patient get one of these on the TV show HOUSE, I am here to tell you it is nothing like it is on TV. For one thing, the MRI machines on TV are very large and make a pleasant humming noise.

In real life, an MRI machine is more like the plastic casing you put a travel toothbrush in. Only instead of a toothbrush, they put YOU in it. So you are crammed into this tiny plastic tube, while someone bangs VERY LOUDLY on the walls of it all around you. That about sums up an MRI.

If you are claustrophobic, I would not recommend getting an MRI, as there is no way out of the plastic tube until they pull you out. Also, they put a Darth Vader mask over your head with just a tiny mirror so you can see what the technician is doing, although usually he is not in your viewing range.

Not surprisingly, my MRI gave me a migraine.

Now I have to go work on my migraine journal, which I was supposed to have been keeping this week, but which got slightly disrupted due to the emergency involving Grandma. I would just like to point out that both Grandma AND my mother were able to enjoy cocktails while they were here in Key West (although that was not what caused Grandma’s fall, which was at ten in the morning, puh-lease).

What did I drink the whole time?

Fresca.

Something HAS got to give.

Blood tests tomorrow. Wish me luck.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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