Gravity's Rainbow

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Eating and sleeping – more complicated than you might think

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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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5 Comments

  1. I never had migraines as frequently as you, but I’ll share my experience: I had many in my 20s, fewer in my thirties, very few in my forties, and now, in my fifties, I very occasionally get auras and some neurological effects, but no pain.

    I’m so happy your new home means fewer migraines!

  2. “But I still want to be well.”  YES.  THIS.

    In terms of migraines, it increasingly seems like mine were almost all post-concussive, as three years on, it now takes a pile of triggers and some bad luck to cause one.  But in terms of chronic illness and my new food allergy, this is the story of my life.

    I want to be able to spend more than a few hours with my cat-owning friends.  I want to push through a cold and not end up flat on my back on antibiotics and steroids.  I want to spend less on medicine than I spend on groceries.  I really, really want to eat some bacon and not go to the hospital.

    I’ll just keep hoping that one day we’ll both get at least some of what we want.

    • As frustrated as I get, it really makes me feel loved to have people in my life who accept these things about me and are willing to be all kinds of inconvenienced to maintain a friendship with me.

  3. I’m glad you’re doing better in Epiphyte City

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