13 March, 2011


Her migraine woke her up. She lay in bed wondering at the intensity of the attack. Her migraines had steadily declined and disappeared since she had left her violent husband. Yet here it was, back with pain beyond her memory. She was convinced it must be a brain tumor. Judging buy the location it must be in her frontal cortex. There was nothing in the occipital area or perhaps it was simply less intense and consequently less noticeable. The old feeling of “I-wish-I-was-dead-so-the-pain-would-stop” came back to visit. She lay there trying not to move, trying to will it away, trying to relax and release. All the new age articles she had ever read came back to her as she tried to figure it out: where it came from, and how to prevent it from happening again. Slowly it dawned on her that she could stop wasting time blaming herself, telling herself that she was a bad person with a million things wrong and get an ice pack, eat some yogurt and take half a vicodin. Every muscle in her body hurt and her skin itched as she lowered her feet to the floor. That wasn't so bad, she decided. Slowly she made her way to the stairs. Descending step by step, trying not to jar her head, she noticed the waves of nausea reminding her of the Japanese tsunami she had watched before falling asleep last night. Could they be connected? It didn't matter, she still had to deal with the pain. Opening the refrigerator, the sun streaming through the eastern windows, she grabbed the non fat greek yogurt. She held the first spoonful in her mouth until it seemed safe to swallow. The last thing she wanted was to start barfing on an empty stomach. It was staying down. She tried another spoonful of the creamy, thick goo. How do they get it to taste so good without fat? It was staying down, so she cautiously swallowed the vicodin left over from her car accident two months ago. Remembering the ice, she selected a bag of frozen peas from the freezer and wrapped it in a tea towel. In slow motion she carefully flopped down on the kitchen window seat just for a moment, with frozen peas draped across the top of her head, hoping to feel the vicodin to kick in. 10 minutes and no relief yet. She shifted the pea pack slightly to avoid frostbite. She made her way back upstairs and rubbed peppermint oil on the worst, most excruciatingly painful areas. Reaching for her phone she canceled her plans for the day. What if she had to cancel the whole week? What if she had to cancel her trip to the West Coast?! Although, if it were a brain tumor, maybe this would be her last chance to do something like travel with her daughter. Convincing herself that the migraine was indeed symptom of a brain tumor, or worse, perhaps an aneurism, she planned how she would use her remaining time. She really didn't want to pass during the Winter, that was just too depressing. Late summer would be good, as there would be all kinds of fresh produce available for parties and gatherings. Her daughter would have a break before the school year started and she went back to work. Her son would be available as he was working part time in August. As she fell asleep, thanks to the vicodin she reminded herself not to give attention to dying least she created it as reality. Images of her grandchildren's birthday parties flowed through her dreams. She saw herself in her BMW convertible driving them to the lake for swimming and the roller garden for skating, packing snacks and sipping tea outside Turtle Bread Shop. When she woke, a few hours later, the pain was gone. The heaviness was still there between her ears, but she was pretty sure it was NOT a brain tumor. Listening closely she could hear her son downstairs, probably doing his laundry. An avid ultra-marathoner, he worked just enough to allow himself ample time to train. This left no money to wash clothes in the laundromat under his apartment, so he spent Sunday evenings using her washer, dryer, soap and water. At 23, she reminded herself he was a man. His Dad was married with a baby at that age! She cautiously made her way downstairs where he was sprawled in the dining room. In a great mood, full of self esteem, he had run 15 miles and was treating himself to a pizza. Drinking a glass of water and listening to his description of his morning run she was relieve that the migraine seemed to have disappeared. Her schedule for the week could remain intact. She might even eat some pizza, and drink hot tea. The day was mostly gone, but it was the first day of daylight savings so the sky was sunny and inviting. The snow had melted around the edges, and cardinals were clustered around the feeding tray. The pain was gone, but not forgotten. They went to pick up her taxes, she asked him to drive as she was still feeling dizzy from the vicodin. It was silly to take chances when she was pretty sure she didn't have a brain tumor, or even an aneurism.

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