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.
“Where’s your brother?” I asked her.
“Oh, he won’t be home until at least 8 tonight.”
“What in the world? Why?”
If this were a TV drama, you’d see a close-up of my face and then a series of images in quick succession: an email from a band parent, my response, another email reminding me, and my calendar with “Make chili for All-County Band” highlighted. I looked at Jay, wide-eyed.
“OHMYGOSH! I agreed to--”
“Aileen! Were you supposed to take something?”
“Make chili for-- ”
“How many people?”
“They wanted it there between--”
“Call and tell them it will be late--”
“4:30 and 5!” (It was 4:35. The school is less than five minutes from our house.)
“I’ll go get ground beef--”
“I’ll just make vegetarian.” I pulled chopped veggies from the freezer.
“No one wants vegetarian--”
“I think we have some ground beef.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course not,” I grabbed cans of tomatoes and black beans from the pantry. “Margaret! Open these cans.”
“We don’t have enough beef; I’m going to Ingles.” (4:40)
By the time he returned 10 minutes later, all the other ingredients were in the pot. We browned the beef, mixed it with the other ingredients, and waited for it to boil. By 5:00 everything was done but the transport.
“Wait, you can’t take this over there like this,” Jay said, taking the bubbling pot off the stove and reaching for the crockpot.
“Good idea. That way--”
“They can plug it in.“ He poured the chili into the crock, put the lid on it, and clamped it in place.
“Yeah that . . . “ I swirled it around to stir it, letting it splash up onto the lid. “AND they’ll think I’ve been cooking it all day . . .”
“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.)