I can’t seem to remember when I first started getting migraines. I can recall fragments of memories where I’m lying in a dark room at my godparent’s house when I was six or seven or ones where I’m wore a brand new Chicago Bears sweatshirt without having washed it (Thus, it that still had that weird, chemical smell that some new fabrics had back then) that ultimately led me to getting a migraine. But I’ve got no idea when these damn bastards first started or what causes them.
Over the years, I learned a few tricks in combating them. If I took some light headache medicine at the first sign of an onset, sometimes I’d get lucky and advert it. But chances are that it wouldn’t work and I’d be left with playing the waiting game until nighttime came, where I could fall asleep and hopefully wake up in peace. Dark rooms and quiet places were always helpful, but they were akin to giving a dying man a shot of morphine. Sure, they might help dull the pain, but they were by no means a solution to the problem at hand. No, I thought that pharmaceuticals would save me.
Back in my younger years, I can remember my grandma giving me Bayer’s to combat the problem. After a few years of taking two capsules once a week, they had about the same potency as Skittles. My mom stepped it up to Tylenol a few years later, then Extra Strength a few after that. By the time I started middle school, I arrived every Monday morning with a pocket full of pogs and two Excedrin pills to stash in my locker just in case one came that week. As I was leaving three years later, I emptied out the few Excedrin Extra Strength pills and slap bracelets that remained. In high school, they came out with Excedrin Migraine and I was excited, for finally I figured they’d invented something that my body wouldn’t grow immune to after only a few bottles. You can imagine my annoyance when even they had stopped being effective by the time I got my diploma. Finally, in college, I discovered Goody’s Powder, a magical elixir that not only cured migraines, but any other body pains you were having. In fact, not only were they amazing for curing all that ailed you, but they were excellent for fooling your friends into thinking that you were addicted to cocaine, but that’s for a different post.
It was around my sophomore year that I started hating both medication and the chiropractors. I’d been going to that latter for about 10 years at this point and I finally realized they were only hurting my case, not helping it. But the elimination of those body twisters didn’t solve the issue. The elimination of medications, however, was a big struggle. By this point, I probably only had a migraine a month, but I was still scared of growing immune to the only thing I knew that worked. Plus, I was only in my late teens and I didn’t want to end up like Bret Favre and become addicted to painkillers by the time I was 30.
So I started prepping myself. I tried to psych my mind into thinking meds were useless. I told myself that the people moving out west during the early 1800s didn’t Tylenol! I reminded myself that there weren’t any pharmacies or doctors in the remote mountains of Appalachia! Of course, a simply snake bite used to be fatal back then and they all used heroin as a treatment for everything anyway, but that’s beside the point. I finally started believing my body could beat most of the stuff out there. I got rid of my Nyquil and cough medicine. Gone was the Pepcid AC and throat lozenges. They were all useless in my mind and ever since, I’ve made my body fight off any of the illnesses that would have made me reach for them before.
That was three years ago. Today, my medicine cabinet is quite bare. There’s a jar of pills that I never finished off leftover from the great Poison Ivy debacle. A half-used stick of chap stick lies on it’s side, nudged between a tube of Neosporin and a box of Band Aids. A dusty box of floss lies in the corner behind my toothpaste, which means my dentist is surely going to yell at me the next time I see him.
Last night, after one of the easiest and stress free days I’ve had as substituting, I came home and felt “it” coming. For no fucking reason whatsoever. But I told myself I could beat it. I had a big dinner and drank a few cups of coke. I took a long, hot shower and let the water beat on my neck until the skin was practically numb. And yet shortly thereafter, despite the early warning, the food, the caffeine, and the added blood flow to my head, I was curled up in bed, with a hot rag draped over my forehead, cursing myself for what I knew I was about to do next.
An hour later, I was reached past the toothpaste and around the Band Aides and over the chap stick. My eyes were fixed on the little blue box hidden behind everything else. The one with fraying corners and marked with a fading “GOODY’S” on the cover. The one containing the supernatural concoction of powder held in tiny sheets of folded wax paper that I so desperately wanted. And had, just like every other time.
Sometimes my fleeting willpower shames me more than anything else.