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Friday, 18 January 2013

A moment in darkness

I haven't blogged since The Weeping Butcher incident, mainly because it's been a couple of weeks of excruciating migraine attacks, and trust me, you don't go near a computer screen during a serious one of those.

Every few years I seem to go through a cycle of increasingly severe attacks. It happens at various times, in various seasons, and it doesn't matter what I've eaten or drunk. In fact, looking back over the migraine diary, the only pattern is that there is no pattern. It's annoying. It makes my OCD hurt.

Straight after writing the butcher blog, I had the worst attack I've had in years. About thirty minutes into it I went blind. Not the white-out that I'm used to, where all the colour bleaches out of the world and I know it's time to pass out. This time, everything went black. No pretty coloured explosion or flashing lights either. Just straight to darkness.

It happened so unbelievably fast. One minute I was whimpering about pain at my cousin, and twenty seconds later I couldn't see anymore.

Stacey, bless her, helped me up the stairs and into my bedroom. I crawled onto the bed and waited.

I didn't panic because I'd heard of it happening to other sufferers, so I knew it was temporary. I know that because the blood vessels expand during an attack and put pressure on facial nerves that is the cause of the pain, and this particular attack was lodged behind my eyes, so I can assume that the same pressure impacted the optical nerves in some way. It was still pretty scary, and if I hadn't done the research I'd have been a screaming mess, but there's a big leap between reading about something and experiencing it. There is no way to prepare yourself for something like that. You can understand it intellectually, but having it actually happen? You end up clutching to the knowledge that it passes, that it will end, because other people deal with this. You cuddle up to it like a teddy bear, and hope to hell you aren't going to make medical history by being the girl that doesn't get her sight back.

The blindness passed in around twenty to twenty-five minutes or so. The actual migraine attack lasted 4 days, which is not my idea of fun. The first night was the worst. Couldn't sleep. Couldn't talk. Kept asking Stacey to punch me out (she wouldn't). I spent the night rocking gently with the lights off, praying for it to stop. I didn't particularly care if it killed me at that point, as long as it stopped; I was fantasising about someone just drilling a tiny hole over the eye socket to relieve the pressure. It made a week in the hospital with a broken leg look like a kiddies tea party.

The problem is, I can't even hide the mild ones - one of my personal symptoms is severe discolouration under the eyes. Mild attacks are light brown. More severe ones turn blue-black. During this particular episode, I looked like someone had used me as a punching bag.
It took until that Thursday before food stopped making me gag and I could eat. Friday was good. I no longer looked like Zombie Chick on Acid, and I could eat. Saturday was brilliant. Sunday I had another attack.

I decided to hell with it and called the nurse for a Botox appointment. I had it done the last time I had a cluster of attacks like this, and I was migraine free for a year. I have no idea why the pain relief lasts longer than the muscular effect, and the scientists are still trying to figure that one out. Karma obliged by letting me get some savings together, with a lot of help from others. (The jabs are pretty pricy, and it's £250 that I'll never see again, but it's still cheaper than spending a fortune on pain-killers and losing days.)

In the past week I've had two. The first I got over in about 4 hours, because I got a can of oxygen off of Amazon and used it. It helped. Didn't cure it, but I reckon it shortened it.

Yesterday I travelled up to Bournemouth, and heading back on the train I could feel the next one start. No oxygen this time, just take the tablets and sit very still and get back to London. Thankfully the last one was pretty mild, but I keep thinking back to that moment I went blind, standing in my kitchen.

Since  the start of December I've lost almost 3 weeks of my life because I just couldn't function, and I cannot carry on like this. I have an understanding boss, and brilliant family and friends, but that's not the point. Being unable to move for 4 days of my life is not an option. Going blind in my kitchen when I can prevent it, is not an option. Life is too damn short to spend it whimpering in a dark room.

At the moment, provided the snow doesn't mess things up, I get the jabs tomorrow. I can't wait.