I have hypoglycemia (similar to diabetes, in that it’s a blood sugar regulation issue, but different.) Basically, when I don’t eat for a while, or when I exercise a lot and use up what my body had stored, my blood sugar drops and I get a whole collection of symptoms ranging from mildly unpleasant to fairly horrible.
The evening before last I wound up with a low-blood-sugar migraine, which goes into the “fairly horrible” category. I can tell when it’s from low blood sugar because the pain slowly concentrates like a clenched fist above my right eye. These migraines usually start out fairly faint and can occasionally be averted at that point. Sometimes, though, for whatever reason I can’t deal with it then – no time, no opportunity, nothing with me to eat, whatever reason – and then they get worse.
So Monday late afternoon, as I was finishing up my duties at work, I felt the faint beginnings of a migraine. I thought Ok, yep, blood sugar is getting low (though I did have a snack mid-afternoon like I usually do), so I’ll deal with it in a bit here… But one thing led to another, time got away from me, and next thing I knew, I had a full-blown migraine digging its claws into my head.
When they get this bad, literally even thinking hurts. I found myself attempting to come up with a way to describe the pain… that little guy sitting on your head with a hammer is so cliché and it doesn’t feel like he’s sitting on top anyway, it feels like he’s inside, trying to get out… but the more I thought about it, the more it hurt, and the harder it got to come up with the words. The worst part about these migraines, aside from my head feeling like an onion trying to peel itself, is that I also get nauseated. The best way to fix a low-blood-sugar migraine is to balance the blood sugar – eat something. But the last thing you want to do when you feel nauseous is eat.
I am lucky in that regular Ibuprofen will help back the pain down to a manageable level (some people with migraines have to take specific medication,) so I took two that I had in my purse. Then I sat very still at my desk for a time waiting for them to work. When I move with a migraine – especially if I bend over – it’s like it gives the little guy in my head with the hammers a chance to get his hobnailed boots in too. So I refrained from moving for a while and tried to think about nothing.
Eventually, I gingerly worked my way out to my car, where I had an apple and some almonds. After sitting there with my head on the steering wheel for a little, soaking up the heat, the nausea eased enough for me to eat some food I’d had in my car. (Another of the low blood sugar symptoms, if I’m not actively moving, is I get chilled, especially in air conditioning like an office.) So I ate my almonds and then drove carefully home while eating the apple. I am also fortunate in that I don’t get light sensitivity with my migraines as some do, though loud sound does make it worse.
By the time I got there, I had only what I call a shadow headache left – which is where it feels like the inside of your skull is tender; it doesn’t quite hurt, but it will if you move too fast or concentrate too hard. Like the little barbarian has set down his hammers and taken a smoke break, but they’re close to hand and he’s ready to jump back up and start swinging if you get overconfident.
After an easy cereal-for-dinner, I had a shower and another Ibuprofen, and crawled into bed early. Yesterday and today it seems the little barbarian is on vacation… I hope he has a nice long trip and feels no need to come back soon. Maybe his luggage will get lost with the hammers in it, but that’s probably too much to hope for.
So why tell you all this? Partly, honestly, because I wanted to play with the words. It was frustrating the other night not being able to think of them (I only got as far as the classic little guy with hammers wanting out, not in, I hadn’t thought of the boots.) And partly so that if you don’t suffer from migraines, perhaps now you can have more sympathy for people that do. It really is so much more than “just a headache.”
In other news, and the reason for the post title, one of my succulents is flowering. It’s a variety of Sempervivum, the common name of which is Hen & Chicks. I just got several of these earlier this year, so this is my first time having one flower. It’s fascinating to watch.
Normally Sempervivum grow as rosettes close to the ground and they multiply by offsets, or “chicks”, as the others in the same pot have done. But this one kept
going up and up, creating a stalk which eventually got a head-full of buds, and then one opened on Wednesday night. More have been opening each day. The head did get a bit heavy and required some propping up, but it is still delightful.
The moral of the story? Beauty happens in spite of the pain. Or perhaps, pain makes us appreciate the beauty more.