Sunday, August 27, 2023

my body keeps the score and holds the grudge

when your normal headache isn’t normal but it’s also very normal when things aren’t normal. and also isn’t a tumor. (ps, this is not about my boyfriend)

You’ll tell yourself you’re fine with it. That the drama has settled and everything is fine. But your body knows you better than you. It’ll throw headaches at you. And then more and more until you’ve had a headache for five days and know for sure it’s a tumor (spoiler: it’s not) and go to urgent care. 

This is different than a migraine. It’s in a different place, it feels different, and isn’t accompanied by the same aura or light sensitivity (though you’re still sensitive to light). It doesn’t react the same to the usual cold packs and pills. 

Once a week for over a month you’ll call out sick. No, it’s not work related. 

You’ll get your eyes examined in the fifth week of headaches. Yes, your eyes have changed. 

On the fifth consecutive day of this headache, you’ll go to urgent care. 

You’ll wait for the doc in a room on a hospital bed while contorted in a position that alleviates your headache, if only a little. Your lower half lays on its side, knees bent. Your top half is twisted further so your arms can cross under you; held between your body and the bed.

You’ll discuss your headache with the (very hot) doc. He’ll ask about any new stressors since these headaches started over the last couple of months. 

Then. It’ll click. 

No. You are not fine. Apparently. The boundary you finally set over a year and a half ago and the resulting recent tantrums have, in fact, affected you and affect you still. You were blamed for the situation you didn’t create. “But I’m fine,” you tell yourself and your loved ones.  You reach out to your therapist. “You are having a very normal response to an abnormal event,” she’ll reply.

The doc asks if you’re able to sleep. “Yes!” you’ll respond with no hesitation. 

He tells you to remove the stressors. But how can you remove them from your mind? Your inner thoughts? Meditation, he suggests. 

You’ll find out how hard it is to actively relax your shoulders, your neck, your jaw. It is truly constant. While actively thinking about relaxing your body, you have to remember to relax your body. When you wake in the night, your shoulders are clenched, raised to your ears like hackles. Your hands turn to fists in your sleep. 

You’ll realize that while you HAVE been sleeping, you have not been getting good sleep.

The doc recommends heat on the back of your head, your “suboccipital muscles.” And tennis balls to use as pressure on the back of your neck. 

You look up “homemade hot/cold packs” and find items on Etsy you can make. Just after this headache goes away. It was gone for a couple of days, but it’s back to remind you. 

You try to relax, even while writing this post, unable to take a nap. 

“But I’m fine.”

No. But I’m getting there.

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