Joan Didion has an essay about migraines. She refers to it in the singular: migraine, a disease. It’s good, but I think I could do better. She does not, for instance, talk about the vertigo, the way that the world seems at once to be moving much more slowly and much more quickly than your mind, which is curiously disconnected from the body so that every successful motion, every footstep, is a surprise when it goes through. She doesn’t talk about the way that moving shadows of leaves on pavement make you want to throw up, or the way that the flight of a sudden bird or the passing by of another student slams against your eyes.

I will have to think of more things that I would put into my own migraine essay. Right now I need to lay down and hope that the open window (fresh air is vital) doesn’t blow my blinds too tortuously.


~ by Not Alice on April 24, 2007.

One Response to “migraine”

  1. I am so sorry. My biological mother suffered (suffers? She could still; I wouldn’t know) from migraine. While my childhood was marked by a great deal of willful neglect, I can’t bring myself to fault her for the time she spent holed up in her room, cave-like, for days at a time.

    The saddest (funniest?) story is the one where my five-year-old self took my one-and-a-little-more-year-old sister to kindergarten with me one morning. Our father had already left for work and I, accustomed to getting myself up and ready (see the “willful neglect” comment above) was doing my thing in the early morning when the baby started to cry. When it became apparent that our mother was not going to take care of her, I got my sister from her crib, changed her, put her into her snowsuit and walked her to school with me. It completely freaked out the dog, who was my usual walking companion, and my teachers were a little confused by the arrangment as well (they came into the room to find the baby, sitting on the floor next to my desk, drawing on a piece of construction paper with a fat blue crayon). It took about ten minutes of phone calls to get the mess sorted out, as the maternal unit had unplugged the phones (all the while I’m panicking, because only BAD kids get sent to the principal’s office). My father was finally reached, and we girls spent the rest of the day – and several after that – at my grandmother’s house next door.

    While I understand how crippling migraine can be, as a mother I can’t begin to comprehend how someone could NOT make provisions for her children during her incapacity – particularly when those children are really too young to fend for themselves. I tell this story when people ask me about my tendency to mother, and my penchant for over-achievement…

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