The Migration of a Migraine – or – Excedrin is my new BFF

I wake at 4 a.m.-ish with a migraine, an old enemy who has lately decided on random drive-by shootings after a long absence.  I know to the exact millimeter on my forehead where he stabs me with a hot knife, jagged spears of pain shooting into each eye, the bridge of my nose and across my skull to its base.

I blame the sushi from last night.  I block out that he’s returned because yesterday I retired after 32 years.  I’m an official retiree.  Retiree, what a strange word, as if I’d once been in the pit at Daytona and have now been regaled to pulling out nails and patching bald tires, puttering around an abandoned racetrack.  Retired.  Impossible. I still have a mortgage and a condo, empty as it might be.  I still have financial obligations.  And now, no paycheck.  We have no closing date, which means no arrival date in Hawaii, which means no starting date on a new job.

It must be the sushi.  Note to self – sushi causes migraines.

I stagger to the kitchen and tentatively click on the light on the refrigerator door.  Brilliance swings toward me like a spotlight on the Academy Awards stage.  “The Oscar goes to Front Temporal Lobe for its portrayal of Jack the Ripper.”  I reach for a bottle of generic migraine pills and brace myself to open the refrigerator for a cold drink.

The eye of Sauron blinds me in the three seconds it takes to grab the grape juice and pour some into a plastic cup.  I swallow the pills and juice, entrusting in four ounces of anti-oxidants to do its job.

After a trip to the bathroom, I dissolve onto my pathetic air mattress, the only bedroom “furniture” left, if you don’t count the nightstand constructed of cardboard boxes.  I don’t move my head.  It’s the tip of a nuclear missile, loosely wired, ready to detonate at the slightest offset.

I awake again at 5:54. “L” is up, I don’t mention the pain.  He knows I’m not a morning person and will not get up.

Somewhere around 9:00 I’m awake again, the victim of a full bladder.   Note to self – migraines are diuretics.  I want to crawl, but make it upright and walk the Green Mile to the next room.  I wish I had the stamina or courage to take a shower and wash away the pain.  I move, oh so carefully, back to the kitchen, each step measured, like my feet have fallen asleep and I’m trying to make them work without falling over.

This time I go for the big guns – Excedrin migraine relief.  Three magical pills.  So what if I overdose?  It can’t get worse.  This time, I chose Vitamin water, trusting in electrolytes to dull the ache, knowing it won’t.  “A” and “H” are up, I’m supposed to go with them to the post office this morning.  I apologize in advance, I think.  My memory is fuzzy.

Back on the bed, I experiment with a cold washcloth over my eyes and forehead, but the pressure is too great.  I drop it on the floor.  I’ve opened the window, needing fresh air and oxygen.  The road noise outside doesn’t bother me, only the northern sunlight.  I try to fashion a tent with a spare blanket, but give up on the attempt.  It’s too much work.

My head is a crater. I’ve never experienced migraine auras, but red and white blobs move across my eyelids like a twisted lava lamp.  I pretend to breathe in through the bottom of my lungs, steering the air from my upper sinuses, where it might bump into my brain and send off a firestorm of lightning.  Each breath is exactly the same, no deviation.  To move my head at all sends a new knife through my skull.  I worry about brain tumors.

My body is perfectly still.  I worry about bedsores.  I’ll be trapped in this position for weeks.  I wait for the Excedrin to kick in.  It’s never failed before.

I breathe some more, using a trick that’s come in handy with occasional insomnia.  Pull good energy from the air and earth, circulate it through my body to pick up the toxins, then exhale.  Usually, I breathe though the top of my head, but today, it would be suicide, so I breathe through my feet, as far away from ground zero as possible.  The good air stretches to brush against the pain in my head.  I feel it start work, slowly,  like millennium of sandstorms covering the Sphinx in a picture I once saw.

My stomach growls.  Hunger or the pills dissolving?  Not hunger, I decide, not wanting to get up yet again.

I move my hand to my chest, and nothing hurts.  I don’t sleep, it’s always easier if I can sleep and wake up without pain, but it’s not in the cards today.  After awhile, I turn my head five degrees, a brave endeavor.  I feel like I’ve run a marathon.  The continual stabbing has stopped and morphed to an ache I think I can contain.  I build a wall around it, a two-centimeter barricade starting at the corner of my right eyebrow.  I wait awhile to see if the enemy breaches it, but it holds.

I turn to my other side without preplanning the move.  Other parts of my body take precedence over my forehead.  I scratch an itch on my arm.  My stomach rumbles again.  I start to notice the noise from outside.  The alarm clock, always twenty minutes fast, reads 11:50.  I decide the worst is over.

In the bathroom again, and I feel brave enough to take a shower.  I find the sweet spot where the shower spray hits the base of my skull, and I try to wash without moving from it.

Excedrin is my new BFF.  What company owns it? I have money in with Scottrade that should be used.

I dress and emerge into the living room.  It’s almost noon.  The pain is at DEFCON 5, lowest state of readiness.  I’m ready to face the day.

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Road to Hawaii – T Minus 9 days – The value of Ziploc

The Road to Hawaii, or how we sold (almost) everything, quit our jobs and moved to Oahu, as told by one family who is experiencing it.

Today’s quote (thank you, Carla): “What did we do before Craigslist?”

Reducing a household into a dozen boxes is daunting.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m a packrat.  Making the decision to move to Hawaii has forced me to evaluate everything and take only the most important items with me (a tenth each of my fabric and books, the barest office supplies, my expensive pots and pans bought on impulse {beware of boat show demonstrations}, tax records and various other items too expensive to replace once we arrive).

Beside the importance of cardboard boxes and packing tape, don’t underestimate the simple Ziploc bag.  I’ve used them to group together jewelry, sewing notions, photos, office supplies, toiletries and other small items that otherwise would jiggle around in a box and look for a mousehole to escape through and go on a Pixar-like adventure.

I want my stuff when I want my stuff, and it’s so easy to grab a Ziploc than hunt around in a box that’s jammed full.

It’s also good to pack like things together.  A basic, I know, but I’ll know enough not to look for the Post-its in the fabric box.  Also, label each box.  Duh.  You don’t have to use a Sharpie in big letters that reads, “My secret porn stash” or “Maps to where I’ve buried the bodies”, but “OF” for office and “BK” for books works.  Because the timing of our closing (for which we still don’t have a date) is before “A” and “H” reach Oahu and secure a PO Box, we’re having someone else ship the boxes to us later.  I’ve added 2-3-4 to the labels to indicate in which order to ship (2 for stuff we need right away, 4 for tax records.  The “1” stuff is going with us).

So remember:

* use Ziploc

* label

* pack like stuff together

Now, I’m off to map out the Road to Hawaii.  All I know at this point is “Go West, young man, go West.”


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Road to Hawaii T Minus 10 days – Life without a bed

Ode to the bed sold and now enjoyed by strangers because we’re moving to Hawaii:

You were the best part of the day.


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