Migraines Suck! And Other Fun Revelations From Pain

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So this past week I spent most of my time battling a 4 day migraine. I’m not new to migraines, but I am new to one lasting for days on end. I started getting them more frequently around the time of my divorce. I was so stressed out dealing an abusive partner, touring and family I got major stress migraines that would knock me out for the day. The only thing I could do was rest.

So this week I tried to get rid of the headache, but the only thing that would keep the pain down was cannabis. The pain was significantly reduced, but the focus & low energy that accompanies migraines was still there. Caffeine and water helped keep mildly functional and awake, but information retention was very low.

Then there’s the nausea. The first day I woke up with the migraine and it was so bad that I was dizzy & got nauseous immediately. So it took me a while before I could even make coffee. Because of that I was a bit cautious about what I was eating during the day, which of course doesn’t help the migraine.

If you have never experienced a migraine, I envy you and hope that you never have to! If you have experienced then know I feel your pain and sympathize hardcore! My migraines tend to start behind my eyes. The pressure and pain is so intense that even the smallest amount of light is disruptive. Usually I can dull the pain by wrapping a scarf around my eyes for a few minutes. I guess this is fighting pressure with…pressure.

Then it heads into my temples. At this point if I move even slight it feels like someone hit the sides of my head with a hammer. Usually my ears are starting to hurt by this point too. Its like a constant gong is being rung inside my ear that’s vibrating to every cavity in my skull.

The final part of the migraine is the pain at the base of my skull. It radiates out from there and moves down my spine. I can feel every muscle in my neck tighten up and sitting becomes a chore. The goal is not get it to that point.

I managed to stop the pain from getting to that point on the second day of the migraine marathon. Because of the brain fog that comes with the pain, I wasn’t able to do much of the work I wanted to do. Screens tend to exacerbate the eye pain which then worsens the rest of the pain. And most of my job as a content creator/comedian/web guy is looking at a screen.

Seriously if you’ve never experienced a migraine I envy you!

Most migraines have lasted a full day and some fade in a few hours. This was the first one that lasted days on end. I was able to see my doctor about it and narrowed it down to the rapid changes in temperature and pressure. In Pittsburgh we went from the 40s to the 70s and back to the 40s in those 3 days. It was a mix of rain and wind throughout those days. So thanks to Climate Change, I am going to have live with these migraines when the leaves change color.

But I can tell you when it’s going to rain. Because I’ll want to crawl into a dark hole and never want to come out. When that happens, it’s likely to drizzle a bit. It’s the worst super power of all time.

So what now? I can’t be down 3 or 4 days out of the week every “winter” or “fall”. My doctor suggested Excederin and Benedryl and prescribed some anti-nausea meds so I can get food and caffeine into my body. I’m not a huge fan of pharmaceuticals of any kind, so I am going to be using cannabis as well to stave off the pain. Flower is better to kill the pain than the concentrates, as is my experience. I’m also getting a humidifier and using my nasal spray regularly since my migraine are tied with my sinuses.

I also did discover that drawing and reading books (& comic books) is something I can do while in the fit of pain. Unfortunately I discovered that on the last day. But I’m looking ahead to the future and I’m excited to get back to drawing again. I have various things to help with the pain and a way to keep busy and creative while I’m incapacitated.

The hardest part of this was not being able to write and produce content for the week. Not being productive tends to make me feel useless and like a let down to all my supporters. But these migraines also made me realize and admit that I was terrified of writing these pieces I’m working on. The main fear being “what if it’s not good and I’m not not good at writing this sort of stuff anymore?”

Most of you probably know I took a longer hiatus than I wanted or anticipated over the last few months. So I haven’t been exercising that creative muscle as much. And I’ve reprioritized my life and my goals this past year too. Right now, I do want to create as much poignant work as possible, but I also want to be closer with my friends & family, explore my city, take care of my physical & mental health, love my cat and be happy.

I spent 10 years touring non-stop. I missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and so on to be a better comedian and eventually that became just for the sake of comedy. Over the last year I’ve had to ask myself if that’s worth it? I denied myself a lot of my joys to pursue ONLY one of my joys.

This presents a fun new problem in my brain. If I’m not giving all of myself to comedy can I still be funny? Intellectually I know that answer is yes. I’ve performed my new Stand Up show twice so far. A friend of mine who’s seen me grow as a comedian asked me if I had recorded that show because he thought it was that good. That should be a vote of confidence, but I realized that’s not what I was paying attention to.

I was paying attention to the voice that kept questioning whether I was good at what I do or not. I don’t boast a lot. But I know that I’m a good comedian. I can always improve and push my own limits and boundaries. I have to accept that about that myself and trust my own process.

And now that I have a decent gig that pays well and is adjacent to comedy, I’m not in survival mode anymore. And just because I’m not in survival mode, doesn’t mean I can’t write good comedy that reflects what I believe in. But that fear exists and has been pretty loud over the last month.

The reality is that pieces I’m working on right now are probably not good. Even as I write this word vomit about finding a silver lining in a migraine, I can feel this is not as good as it could be. But that’s because the muscle needs toning. So that means that piece might take longer to put out. But who’s deadline am I on? For the most part, just mine. So if I have new goals in mind I have to be the one that’s more patient with myself and my creative process.

So I’m taking a deep breath and trying to go slow. I’m getting back to having fun with comedy again. I still have to battle that scared voice in my head, but I know what it is and I have tools in my toolbelt to help better myself. Being caught in the rat race of Hustle Culture made me miss a lot of things. I’m not interested in that anymore.

Besides I think I’m now more creatively free than I was before. I can experiment more and take more risks on and off stage. It allows me to present the information I’m excited about in new more fun ways. So that’s super exciting. This just makes me more excited for all new projects I want to work on. But one at a time…because now I do have a lot more time to do these things.

Like I said, it’s still going to take work to drown out that scared voice, but I’m excited to do the work and take my time. And if need be, take a sick day here and there.