Suffering is Free

I started getting migraines about a year and a half ago. My sister has gotten them for her whole life, and when she had one, I never really understood what she was going through.

It’s just not a really bad headache. Yes, there is intense pain. I describe it as an alien creature with a gardening trowel trying to dig its way out of my head from behind my right eye. Along with the pain, for me there comes intense nausea, seeing wavy lines, feeling dizzy, and having my senses heighten so much that light and sound are painful. There also seems to be a general sense of disconnectedness. Like I am trying to escape my body but something is cruelly pinning me down.

When I see the wavy lines, the song “Wave of Mutilation” by the Pixies always pops into my head.[1] But, the best song that really captures a migraine is Mr. Bungle’s “Goodbye Sober Day,” particularly starting at about 3 minutes in.

It’s unpleasant.

And my migraines last for days.

I have been getting advice from people about what to do for this affliction, and most suggest going to a doctor, as there are medications that can be prescribed for migraine sufferers. I have found that over the counter medicine, even those designed for migraines, don’t help at all.

However, I, like many Americans, don’t have health insurance. I can’t afford it. It’s not that I buy crap I don’t need with money I could be spending on health insurance. It’s that after I pay rent and bills, I have to eat. After I eat, I have enough money to do my laundry.

So, here I sit at my computer, even though it hurts to look at the screen, because I’m bored and there’s nothing that I can do that doesn’t make the pain worse, other than listening to the Olympics on TV. I’m trying to find an upshot in all of this, and I think I figured it out.

There’s value in suffering, right? Suffering makes us alive. It makes us feel. It makes us real. It makes us appreciate the things in our lives that don’t bring us suffering. It teaches us about ourselves and what we find important. Suffering is something that no one can take from us.

It’s ours.

And, it’s free.

[1]Even though the song is actually about El Nino… or something like that…

6 thoughts on “Suffering is Free

  1. I have to agree – the feeling you have when your migraine is gone for good (or at least for a month or two) – the heightened sense of being alive and without pain – is something I don’t think you would have otherwise. I’m not even sure how to describe it.

    Did I tell you that I realized that I DO get the wavy lines? I just had never noticed them before because I’m usually asleep when I start getting a migraine. When it’s dark, you don’t notice the wavy lines as much (plus mine are only in my peripheral vision, low and to both sides). But one day I noticed them, and finally understood what you were describing.

    I’m sure I’ve asked you this, but you have tried ibuprofen, right? All those over-the-counter migraine medicines are worthless for me, too, but sometimes good old Advil actually works, at least temporarily.

    • Oh, weird! Peripheral wavy lines. It creeps me out how migraines aren’t just pain. I can deal with pain, but they affect the nervous system too much for comfort.

      Do you feel sort of foggy and disconnected when you’re coming out of the migraine? I’ve affectionately nicknamed it the migraine hangover.

      I have tried ibuprofen (I think I’ve tried most OTCs) but it doesn’t seem to help. It might dull the pain a little, but not enough to make it go away. Some day I’ll go see a real doctor about it.

  2. Where are your wavy lines? Everywhere? That would be disconcerting!

    Yes, I do feel foggy and disconnected when coming out of a migraine…also exhausted…migraine hangover is a very good name for it.

    I hope someday you have insurance so you can see a doctor! They might just give you stronger medicine, though…I wish there was an actual cure.

    • Yeah, they’re right in my direct line of vision usually. It makes me dizzy. Do you not get dizzy?

      I’m immediately skeptical of all pharmaceuticals anyway, but if they actually have a medicine that doesn’t just take away the pain, that would almost be worth it.

  3. I must be honest, I really don’t have an appreciation for suffering and its value. It’s unnecessary and simultaneously inevitable. But I never found value in it, like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The hell it does; it can debilitate you and make you worse overall! But I do hope the head pains don’t stick around.

  4. I appreciate your blog to no end. . . that may not be entirely true; a more accurate expression would be to say, “thank you for sharing these things.”

    On your last entry, a good amount of your surbey answers have a similar accordance to my own.

    To get beyond any sort of gushing and something that could actually be useful for you, somewhere out there a person has marketed some sort of pepper spray to shoot up your nose. The intent behind its creation was that the person found capsaicin reduced and/or cured his cluster headaches entirely. If I remember correctly, this product can be found at Rite-aid and/or Walgreen’s fairly cheaply.

    Hope it works out for you, at least a little bit.

    Went ahead and looked it up:

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