I’m at X’s play practice – Charlotte’s Web – at a high school about 10 miles from where we live. Zo’s kindergarten best friend, A, is the sister of “Wilbur” and the little girl who plays Joy the baby spider. Their mom is the president of Youth Theatre Club. It all seems super convenient and sort of meant to be. A is here today as well, so they’re playing. X is a crew member, and on stage during a few crowd scenes. She wasn’t needed until this week, but she is running around backstage carrying props, a permanent grin on her face, as comfortable as if she’d been here since the beginning, when this is her very first play and it’s almost tech week already. I am SO proud of her. Seeing this makes it all worth it.
Because this week has been rough. Our poverty is crushing me. Depression is inescapable. I have been getting a lot of headaches, and am running low on pills. Not sleeping enough. Having nightmares when I do.
I was thinking about my relationship with pills. When I was little, I was already getting frequent blinding migraines and nothing would help them. I’d lay in bed for hours with a wet washcloth over my eyes. A parent would sit with me and rub or push on my forehead. I remember them giving me codeine cough syrup sometimes. But nothing really worked well until my diagnosis and subsequent Fiorinal prescription at 9. Those magical green capsules were my first ticket to guaranteed pain relief. And wow, not only did a pill erase the pain, it would leave a peaceful sense of happy well-being in its place. So I began to associate my only method of real pain relief with that peaceful and happy glow from the bultalbital. And… bultalbital, especially in combination with another ingredient of Fiorinal, caffeine, is quite addictive. So at a very young age (X’s age now, which boggles my mind) I became dependent on that feeling. When I had that feeling, it meant that no pain was anywhere on the horizon, when I had been living my life in a state of fear, anticipating and dreading the next headache. I got Fiorinal 3 with codeine when I was in high school, and the connections in my brain only increased, and any narcotic is much the same.
So it’s a feeling of comforted safety. It’s the only time I’m not afraid of more pain. And even though Imitrex also effectively obliterates migraines, usually even better, it and others like it don’t have that effect, because they aren’t tricky like opiates. So, in conclusion: for the last 30 years, I’ve been trying to balance the real benefit of narcotics with my complicated desire to be always, always taking them, for that safety. Even a false safety. My brain believes in it.
The play performance is the 25th, 26th, and 27th at this same high school auditorium. It’s going to be a very long week.
Here is today’s (well, yesterday’s) Migraine365 page. I had forgotten my medication and just knowing I’d done that caused anxiety… and, well, you know. I drove home, through the glaring sun, 15 minutes on country roads with a 6. Never again. Well, actually, who am I kidding? It will happen again. Hopefully, though, not again for years.
Text of Page:
09.17.14 | Day 30: Necessities | Migraine365 | HOMEWORK HELL | play practice [some pig – radiant – terrific] | Days are getting busier. What self respecting migraineur leaves home for 3 hours without meds? A 15 minute drive through the county at a 6. THAT’S WHAT I GET | LEAVE NO MEDS behind | poverty makes everything hard | Pain score: 6.5 | Weather: partly cloudy 68° |