Gravity's Rainbow

botany, shoes, books, and justice

Eating and sleeping – more complicated than you might think


One day a few weeks ago I hit a few migraine triggers on the same day. The night before, I’d been so engrossed in the work I was doing that I accidentally stayed up two hours later than usual. Then my day was busy, so I was really, really hungry by the time I found a moment to sit down and eat lunch.

Migraine Barbie has Snapped by Deborah Leigh on Flickr

I canceled my swing dancing plans that evening. I didn’t have a migraine when I decided not to go. I didn’t even have an aura when I decided not to go. In fact, I felt perfectly fine. I didn’t go dancing because of a migraine I thought I might get if I went dancing. Maybe the music would have been too loud or I might have gotten too hot or used too much energy. So I stayed in, read a few papers, and went to bed exactly on time.

I feel like I should be grateful. The place I grew up or the small southwestern town where I did most of my undergraduate degree had frequent and fairly large changes in barometric pressure that either triggered my migraines directly or made me more sensitive to other migraine triggers, like altering my sleep schedule or getting very hungry. My new city, though, has very stable barometric pressure, so even though I exposed myself to two triggers in one day, I spent my evening relaxed and productive instead of lying on the floor next to the toilet.

In the place where I grew up, I was sick almost all the time. In the small southwestern town, I was sick about 3 days a week. In my new city, I only have migraines once or twice a month. I am happy. It is wonderful to schedule a meeting and not have to reschedule. It is wonderful to have time to go swing dancing and do homework. It is wonderful to take an afternoon a week to just do nothing – and know that the rest of the week I’ll be well enough to do my work.

But I still want to be well. I wish I had a normal amount of energy and didn’t have to be so careful about eating and sleeping. I want to stay late at dinner with my friends. I want to go swing dancing even though I ate a late lunch. I want to stay up all night talking to a beautiful girl after an amazing first date. I want to work 8 hours and then go to a show. I want to have a beer at journal club. I want to stay up late to watch a meteor shower. I want to go on a hike and come home and write a paper.  I want to spend all day out with friends and then stay up half the night working on an assignment. I want to keep working until 3am when I’ve got a good idea. I want to eat more avocados. I want to roll over when my alarm goes off and go back to sleep on Saturday morning.

The average 20-something might need an extra cup of coffee after some of those things. I might pay with two days trapped in bed with a migraine.

It’s incredible to feel so much better: grad school is a lot easier and a lot more fun because of it. But it’s hard not to chafe at the restrictions migraines still place on my life.




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