From VMW to Mayberry

otis town drunk“This reminds me of an Andy Griffith episode,” Jay said to me. “You remember? The one when Otis is drunk and he stumbles into Andy's office and locks himself into the jail cell?”

I, Jay’s treasured wife of 26 years, was stumbling into a doctor’s office, clinging to his arm in hopes that this would both slow the maddening dizziness and keep me from a parking lot face plant. It was the worst migraine I’ve had in a decade.

I’ve had migraines since I was 13 and I’m really good at them. I have your run-of-the-mill classic migraine that comes with its own light show. I have cluster migraines: basically the classic stuck on repeat. These migraines are no fun, but I have developed pretty good coping skills over the last thirty something years to help me manage them.

Not so with the vestibular migraine. At the height of these episodes, the symptoms flair with my every move. Like if I open my eyes, talk, breathe, or hurl an entire week of nutrients. Let me show you what symptoms I mean. Come along with me on an imaginary journey to Vestibular Migraine World (VMW). Imagine a child’s toy top. You know how you spin it and for a while it whirls around looking as if it isn't moving at all; but then as it slows it begins to wobble? That’s what it feels like in VMW! Like I’m a wobbly top about to fall.  Only whether I fall or not, I’m still wobbly. Lovely.

But wait! There’s more. The VMW top is made of a stack of metal disks. I guess if this toy were spun as intended, it would whrrrr and murmur pleasantly. But alas, in VMW, tops do not spin at top speed—they wobble; and as they wobble they clang and bang, refusing to fall and hush up.

I only know one certain way out of VMW: you start by drinking plenty of water, then take the correct medication, and finally sleep until you wake up back in reality. It’s a lengthy journey. I know this because I spent a lot of time in VMW from 2001-2004. Since then, I have only passed through briefly on my way to some other, more familiar, migraine territory. Consequently, I don’t keep the VMW exit meds on hand. Today then, when my brain was kidnapped and taken into the depths of VMW, I couldn’t get it back without a visit to the doctor’s office.

“Did you just compare me to a town drunk?” I asked my beloved.

“I guess so,” he said laughing, having made his own fun.

And you know what? I laughed too. Because for a fleeting moment, I left VMW for a visit to Mayberry; and if you can’t laugh in Mayberry, well you might as well move to VMW permanently!

(I got to feeling better by about 4:15 pm. What happened next merited its own blog post.)

About the Author Aileen Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.

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Len Carrier says January 27, 2014

I've never had a migraine, but in my youth I experienced the headaches that come the morning after imbibing too much alcohol. I haven't had a bad headache in years, but that's not because I've become a teetotaler. There are two remedies that I've found can be used to ward off headache.

(1) Laughter. As you discovered, when you laughed at Andy Griffith, the headache disappeared. That's because your brain released endorphins. I do the same when my physical therapist digs under my armpit to gauge the extent of my rotator-cuff damage. My therapist and I then laugh so hard that our stomachs ache--but not my shoulder.

(2) Tai Chi. My Tai Chi guy, Juan, said that the start of any meditation is "Wu Chi" which is the state of nothingness that one can achieve by emptying one's mind of all cares and worries. After Wu Chi, the Yin and the Yang come into being (which is then "Tai Chi," or so I interpret it). So when I'm experiencing the frustrations that come with old age, I stop and try to achieve Wu Chi. This can be done at work, at play, or even when one is trying to put on a recalcitrant pair of socks.

If (1) and (2) don't do the trick, then the only recourse seems to be to visit a headache specialist. I have his name: Morris Maizels. He's a tennis player, so he should know what he's about--but maybe I'm prejudiced that way.

    Aileen Lawrimore says January 28, 2014

    Thanks Len! Great tips!

Len Carrier says January 28, 2014

You're welcome. We miss you at the "Y."

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[…] From VMW to Mayberry […]

The Chili Conclusion - Aileen Goes On says August 29, 2015

[…] Yesterday I had this wicked migraine that turned me into the Mayberry Town Drunk. I spent most of the day in bed, dizzy, nauseated, and miserable. Finally at about 4:15 in the afternoon, I came to. My husband Jay, and daughter Margaret were in the dining room. […]

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