I love Christmastime. But I have to admit that a little part of me fears it, because I am conscious that the big M might be waiting for me around any corner. Okay, maybe "fear" is too strong a word, but I certainly am aware of it and ever conscious of how frustrating a holiday migraine would be, because I would be missing out on family time and seeing people I only get to visit with once or twice a year. Certainly I always think back to my first migraine episode, on Christmas day years ago while I was in college. I'd come home for the month-long winter break, and without taking a moment to rest after the nonstop madness of finals and countless papers written and nights spend until 4am in the library computer lab, I plunged right into Christmas decorating. Mom was still finishing up her term, Dad still at work, my brother too young to be bothered to help out. Knowing we were hosting the family at our house (three families rotated the hosting duties for a while), I went into full-on, Type-A, MArtha Stewart decorating craziness. I must say: the house looked wonderful, with garland winding up the stairway, handmade pine cone garlands (from pine cones I'd gathered myself,of course), fresh pine boughs over every doorway, springs of fresh holly in every room, candles everywhere...it was lovely. And then it happened: about an hour after everyone had arrived, once all were tended to with drinks and food and coats stashed away...I felt it. Suddenly my head was in a tight vise grip, my vision grew dark, my stomach began to churn, and I fled upstairs to lie down.
My mother found me, twisted in pain on my bed and brought me ice packs and drugs. I didn't know what was happening to me, but I very distinctly recall thinking about ways to knock myself unconscious -- the pain was actually that bad. I even fleetingly wondered if I should do something more serious. I couldn't think past the intense tightening, unrelenting, overpowering pain. I tried hurting myself in other ways, like pinching myself hard and knocking my head against the wall, anything to make the migraine pain seem less severe. All while trying to block out the sounds of - yes - Christmas downstairs.
Since that first migraine I've learned to sense them coming on and to know my possible triggers in order to be prepared. My migraines these days rarely make it to such a terrible level, but still even the less major ones can lay me out for a few hours or an entire day. But nothing will ever compare to that first one, on Christmas Day. Thankfully I still love Christmas, a testament to my love of holiday music and cookies, for sure!