Today was a beautiful day full of new adventures.
We toured a new to us zoo in Jackson, Mississippi. I watched my children in awe as we stood closer to a rhinoceros than we had ever before, a mind-boggling 30 ft. And we watched a big mountain lion pace a meer 5 feet away on his side of a mesh cage wall. We stood and talked to a gibbon and an orangutan who looked truly interested in what we were doing on this Wednesday at the zoo. It was as if we were the one on display. We drove home through mostly clear blue skies introducing our kids to the music of our youth. I now sit in a steaming hot bath to finish out the day while my hubby puts the wee babes to bed for me.
All in all a perfect family day — if it weren’t for the Beast.
8 years ago while installing laminate flooring in our newly-acquired home, my finger drifted dangerously close to the edge of the joining block. Mere moments later, I looked away from the block with overconfidence as I drew back my hammer to bop the next pieces together. Only I didn’t hit the block. I hit my index finger square on the nail bed as it’s suspended over the corner of the hard plastic block. I heard the sickening crunch of bone. My finger began to change colors immediately to a dull purple. Up to that point it was the worst striking pain I had ever felt. I could feel the crippling pain radiating through my hand amid the chorus of laughter from the season remodelers. I retreated to the neighboring bedroom to deal with the pain and try not to throw up. An hour later, I finished the floor carefully.
4 years ago in a mommy-and-me gymnastics class, I kicked the steel support of a low balance beam. My left pinky toe was instantly fractured. It took three months before it felt safe to use my foot normally. We stayed in class anyway.
When I was five, I fed my pony an apple out of my cupped hand. She mistakenly grabbed my right middle finger at the knuckle with the fruit. Grinding her teeth to free the Apple, it felt as if she was grinding my finger away. I slipped my finger out when she went to take a deeper bite. I was more careful with the next apple.
At age 13, horse double kicked me in the stomach. A friend of my parents had taunted the young mare while she ate. She missed her abuser and slingshot me to the barn wall instead, perfectly planting her two hind feet in the soft of my belly. I didn’t have to do PE for a few months and I stopped hanging around with stupid people.
I am blessed with an unusual tolerance to keep my wits in the midst of an intense moment of pain. I don’t cry, scream, or wail. My mentality is to grit my teeth and bare it, and know beyond doubt it won’t last. Pain will leave in its own time.
Unless it is the Beast.
When my son was one, I started getting sinus headaches. Or so what I thought to be a sinus infection. I was still breastfeeding so I waited to see a doctor, knowing they couldn’t give me much at that time.
Now I know though, it wasn’t “just a sinus infection”. It was the Beast knocking.
Fast forward 3 years. I have seen 9 doctors and specialists. I have had 3 surgeries. And have spent hours researching headaches.
Finally, the Beast has a name. But knowing his name doesn’t help me send him away.
During our beautiful day of family fun I had 13 headaches. But they aren’t headaches. They feel worse than:
-13 blows to my misplaced finger with a hammer
-13 assaulting kicks by a full-grown agitated horse
-13 broken toes
The Beast never knocks anymore. Over the last 3 years, the door has been removed and he lives in my head now.
At any moment of any day at a time of his choosing, I know he can incinerate me. Asleep or awake. Whether I’m making a grocery list, dreaming, or watching the most precious moments of my children’s lives. He sets fire to my right eye, blinding me with pain in my right temple, swelling my eye nearly shut, and forcing tears to flow from my right eye without my consent.
But I won’t let you win Beast.
I give you no power to steal my life. I will not concede to your ownership. And, I am ready to fight.
An anesthesiologist once told me you cannot die from pain. And I am inclined to believe it. Most of the day feels as if half of my face is charred beyond existence. Yet, I look in the mirror and I am whole.
This is my journey to freedom from Paroxysmal Hemicrania.