Sick Day #Slice – 8 of 31

Please click on the image to go to the Two Writing Teachers blog to see what others have written for their Slice of Life Challenge posts.

Please click on the image to go to the Two Writing Teachers blog to see what others have written for their Slice of Life Challenge posts.

(I have always wondered how I could best explain what it’s like to have a migraine to someone who doesn’t know. I’m not sure this will do it justice either but I had one bad enough I couldn’t open my eyes most of the day. It gave me plenty of time to think about it… So now that I’m feeling a bit better, I’ll give it a try. FYI, this isn’t a ploy for sympathy so much as understanding. Migraines don’t look like anything to the people on the outside looking in. Here is my attempt to show you what they are like from my perspective.)

In the blessed dark behind my eyelids

I hear the jagged 3/4 time

Pounding into my pillow

A little faster with each shallow, quiet intake of breath

A little slower as I breathe out

It matches the rhythm of my heart

But feels like it’s beating the life out of me

The metronome pounds on into my ear

Keeping time to a discordant band of musicians

The clock adds its regular staccato gunfire from the other room

The dog snoring on the floor sounds like the roar of a thousand amplified guitars

The cat’s ordinarily gently wheezing purr has all gentleness of a chainsaw

Something buzzes furiously from down the hall

The sound is familiar but so loud I cannot safely identify it

I hold my temples and squeeze with a vice grip hoping to quiet it all

Each noise bursts like a firework in my skull

I closer my eyes tighter and pray for sleep or relief in any form will come soon

Upon waking hours later

The internal concert seems less intense

The noises around me seem less threatening

One eye opens to test the exposure to the sliver of light coming into the room

No worse

The other eye opens cautiously

No sudden movements

Every millimeter of motion is measured for a reaction

These pains aren’t like that of childbirth that we put away and can hold up and remember in only abstract terms

These pains serve no useful purpose

They make us angry and bitter to everything and everyone around us

They make us carry medicines and superstitious habits and extra money for caffeinated beverages wherever we go

They make us draw up and maintain lists of triggers that we studiously attempt to avoid

They cost us hoursdaysweeksmonthsyears of our lives in





(Grateful I had the foresight to stay home. Today’s was probably the worst I’ve had in years. Many days I have just toughed it out and taught with just a plea to the kids to please be quiet because it feels like an ice pick going into my skull when they aren’t. Amazingly, they usually comply and I can tough it out until my medicine kicks in. Unfortunately, you can only take the rescue meds so many times in a week before you have to just tough it out without. And that was today.)


18 thoughts on “Sick Day #Slice – 8 of 31

    • Thank you. I just clicked onto this post on my computer and realized that my phone – once again – mucked up the formatting.
      Grateful you read through the whole mess when it was jammed together. Just curious if you think it seems better this way or before.

  1. You have described a migraine well! I really like how your first many lines grow longer and longer, much like the migraine pain grows – and when you start to mend, the lines are shorter. Don’t know if that was intentional, but it felt like “a pulsing migraine.” My favorite image – “The dog snoring on the floor sounds like the roar of a thousand amplified guitars” (since I regularly hear pounding guitars from my sons!). Thanks for sharing!!

    • It wasn’t intentional, but I like that it’s there now that you pointed it out!
      We only have pounding piano keys here at the moment. And thankfully I was feeling better when the young pianist came home to practice. Hearing that earlier might have made me cry.

  2. Well written. I can imagine your day of lots and lots of moments trying to think of how to describe the agony. There are similarities and differences for us all, I would guess. One of the big bummers for me is that horizontal makes them worse. I have gotten very good at finding ways to prop myself up while I try to get some sleep to escape the pain. (We won’t go into the times the vomiting exacerbates it all.) And then comes the blissful moment when you can tell the drugs have gotten the upper hand. I love that moment!

    • I spent a good chunk of time (no pun intended) dry heaving today. That rarely happens. But usually if I throw up, I feel better. Never in my life have I remembered praying to be able to vomit, but it happened today. Never noticed that position made much an effect on me so I’ll take that as a blessing.

  3. I’m so sorry that you have those. I pledge to stop calling my headaches migraines because I know that they are not as bad as you are describing. Your poem was easy to read and flowed nicely.

    • I was half watching a movie on TV the other night called Margaret and I kept thinking that the beginning was a bit like having a migraine – the background noises were amplified instead of toned down. They definitely did it for a specific effect. Here’s a link to it: (I had to turn it off after the accident because I couldn’t watch any more, but…)

  4. I am sorry that you have to go through this. I do not suffer from migraines, but I can imagine from your descriptive writing. I hope you feel better tomorrow.

  5. I think a lot of people call strong headaches migraines, but once you a migraine, you know the difference. This is a powerful description–it is almost uncomfortable to read because the imagery is so strong.

    My husband gets migraines. We did lots of work to uncover his triggers. He usually has to tough it out because meds cause cyclical migraines for him. We have found that an entire day of just water is the only thing that wipes out the migraines that keep returning in cycles (a cure we discovered in a Native American healing book).

    Glad you sliced even when you were in such pain!

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