The Ibuprofen Ultimatum


Here’s the story of drugs, illness, and a mixed grill dinner.

I must admit, I was a little disheartened when she wouldn’t sell me the drugs. I mean, I only really needed one packet, but as I always say, you can never have enough pills. You see, I ran out of migraine pills this week the exact second I got a migraine, my… ooh, only my second of the year. Sadly, it was a bitch. So I did the only reasonable thing and headed to the Superdrug pharmacy to buy as many migraine pills as humanly possible. You see, when I’m not well, I just pump as many ‘happy pills’ as humanly possible into my body until I feel better. Doctors would advise against this and funnily enough… so did the pharmacist. Ooh, you shoulda seen the look on her face when I plonked down five packets of ibuprofen. “I… I can’t sell you that many, sir.” “What… why?” “It’s a suicide risk. You could easily kill yourself with that many.” I did consider telling her I’d already taken 10 ibuprofen, but that might have caused alarm bells to start flashing. “Oh, I’ve just got a migraine,” I told her. “I understand, but it’s the rules.” “Okay, then. What’s the most I can have?” She gave me two packets. I then went to Boots to get three more…

I think doctors would argue that I am taking far too many, but I follow the instructions to the letter. They do clearly state that you can take two every four hours, and I worked out that, in my normal day, that would be eight. You see, the problem is, that’s subjective. I don’t know what the docs consider a ‘normal day.’ For them, it might only equal six. Equally, ibuprofen has absolutely no effect on me until I’m on my sixth or so, such is the power of my migraines. And I can’t buy anything stronger, because this is literally the strongest thing you can buy over the counter. Now, you might say that I should go to a doctor and get a prescription for something really strong like co-codamol, but there are two problems here. One, I’ve tried, but the doctors won’t give me anything and two, and perhaps most importantly, when I used to take co-codamol, when you could buy it over the counter, it usually sent me to sleep within 10 minutes because it’s so damn powerful. And that’s fine if I’m heading to bed, but a real pain in the arse if I’m sitting with a client. “So, I’m after some business cards.” “Yup.” “And what I’d like is…” “Zzzz…”

There was a time I’d drink myself stupid to rid myself of a migraine, with my thinking being that a migraine is, basically, inflamed vessels of some sort in the brain and if I could kill a few brain cells, it might alleviate the swelling. Turns out, I’m not a great doctor. It was worth a shot, though. Right? I thought it was…

I don’t do it lightly, you know. I have an over active gag reflex which makes swallowing pills a virtual impossibility. So I have my own method. What I do is, I get the pill, right, and I force my hand down my throat and release my grasp. It’s not… pretty… sure, but it works. Again, there is little more I can do. It does work most of the time, but the times it doesn’t does lead to a lot of vomit on the ceiling. I wasn’t really born with a body that… works.

You might wonder why the doctors like me suffering in misery. Well, apparently, the number of migraines I endure ever year is ‘within an acceptable tolerance’ and ‘nothing to worry about.’ 12 last year. 13 the year before. 28 the year before. You know, a doctor once said to me, “If you were a woman, we could give you something.” Oh great, so if I grow some boobs I can get help? Lovely.

The problem is, you don’t expect men to get them, and certainly not as many as I get. And they have been a wretched part of my life since I was a little boy. I can’t remember my first migraine, but I imagine it involved a lot of screaming…

The worst part is that they happen randomly. Sometimes it’s just before bed. Others, just after you’ve woken up. Sometimes when you’re on the bus. Or walking down the street. You get a fever, you start sweating like mad. Your vision goes all hazy and you lose focus. It happened to me at work, this week. I ran to the bathroom and then in to the bathroom door because I couldn’t see it anymore. And then begins the battle to end all battles.

It’s hard to describe if you’ve never had a migraine. You get swirls of light, usually bright blue, electric and neon in nature, all over your field of vision. You get great blurry swirls and bright and constant flashes of light. You feel dizzy and like you’re being shaken. You start seeing things that aren’t there, and these things are different for everyone. The random and bizarre shapes and imagery, a discordant mix of colours and electricity, merge into vaguely recognisable shapes. Like those magic eye posters, you start to see things in the shapes and the madness of it all. For me, it often turns into a tempestuous ocean with old wooden ships doing battle in the middle of a violent storm. With flashes of gunfire and blood all over. I usually start hearing sounds, too. The crashing of the waves and the screams of dying men. Now imagine having 30 of these every year. Yes, welcome to my hell…

A migraine often lasts a week and during you’ll get several ‘attacks,’ moments like that described above. People react differently. I never cry. I never throw up. I just sit there waiting for the hazy vision to clear and then I get back on with my day. It’s not pleasant, sure. After the vision craziness, your eyeballs feel like they’re being squeezed for a few hours, then your head feels like it’s being beaten repeatedly with shovels. Then you’ll wake up the next day and you’ll be fine and as good as new. But it’s all a lie. I call this stage, ‘the calm at the centre of the storm.’ Later that day, I got another attack, and three more over night. All considerably worse and more painful than I’ve described above. And then it starts to calm down. You’ll go a few days with a vague pain in your head. When you move, for example, or breathe. And the worst part is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I still have my cough. It’s worse now than it’s ever been. Two months and counting, and the x-ray and blood tests found nothing. I’m getting my third cold, THIRD, of this year alone. My chest is incredibly tight and in absolute agony. I’ve had it before. Google doesn’t know what it is. That’s good enough for me. I’m tired all the time. And then there’s the hunger. Oh, you won’t know about this, you lucky non-migraine sufferers. The hunger. For weeks and weeks after a migraine, you have this insatiable hunger, a hole you cannot fill. I had a mixed grill dinner this week, right in the middle of my migraine. Three pork chops, sausages, burgers, bacon, mash, beans, chips – everything. About an hour later, I had a huge pizza and then about an hour after that, a huge bowl of pasta. And I still went to bed hungry. I haven’t even mentioned all the chocolate bars and crisps I ate between those meals. And the worst part is that that will mess up your system for months. Migraines give you the munchies and nobody knows why. So there’s no cure. Isn’t that hilarious!

As you can probably tell, I’m not having the best 2017. I’m surprised I’m still alive, if I’m being honest. Still, gotta look on the bright side of life. The world might be crushing my every hope and dream but… no, there are ‘buts.’ I’m literally out of positivity.

And I got a dentist’s appointment this week. Oh, joy…

American writer and editor, Holly Black (b. 1971), once wrote: ‘I haven’t had a very good day. I think I might still be hung over and everyone’s dead and my root beer’s gone.’

Peace Out :|:

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Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other blog:

To Contrive & Jive
New Posts Every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday
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