Monday, 6 February 2012

The Face of Migraine

This weekend I had a particularly annoying two-day right sided migraine. Migraines are characterised by their one sidedness. Mine are, 90% of the time, left sided, so I do not like these random right siders. They are different in nature, instead of a vice like grip they are a throbbing stab which is worse if I move or stand up. This makes going to the loo very difficult. I also don’t like them mainly because they’re different. There is something comforting in the familiarity of my left sided migraines, I know how they will act. Anyway, enough about me – I just thought it would be good to start with something vaguely educational.

So, I awake from a snooze in the midst of right sider migraine, to find my mother intently staring at me, hands on hips. Our conversation goes something like this:

Me: Why are you staring at me?

Mum: I think I should take a picture of you.

Me: Why?

Mum: For your flog.

Me: It’s called a blog.

Mum: That’s not important. People should see you like this, then they’d really understand. You should be the face of migraine.

Me: No.

Mum: Yes.

Me: No.

Mum: Yes.

And this is the picture she took!

Let me explain. My migraines stem from, and are triggered by, a spinal injury incurred when I was 18. Thus during migraines, especially right siders, I always find it very difficult to get comfy. Second educational migraine tip coming up: during a migraine your skin may become extra sensitive, so even the soft edge of a pillow can feel like someone has put a pile of nails under your head. My mother has spent so many hours patiently arranging pillows in different layouts that she should get some kind of qualification - Jill Saxton, Pillow Arranger (Hons). She is a gifted flower arranger so maybe the two are connected somehow…

Anyway, when my mother wants to capture this special Kodak moment I have about ten Tempur pillows stuffed around various points of my body, wedging me into what probably looks to the untrained eye like an incredibly uncomfortable position. I’m wearing my lovely beige neck brace, my unwashed hair is matted around my face, I have a Virgin Atlantic Airline Eye mask around my forehead (in case I want to keep out the light) and my ten inch thick, cracked, Ugly Betty glasses are falling off my nose. I have an ice pack tied onto my head with a dish cloth designed by my 10 year old niece’s class, featuring their self drawn crayon portraits (they’re a surprisingly talented class) plus various hot water bottles wedged around me. But the finishing touch is a large tissue shoved up my right nostril, which has been utilized to stop an earlier nosebleed. There is probably some residual blood on my pyjamas. In short, I looked pretty damn sexy.

Me: Um, Mum I don’t think of photo of me looking like this is a good idea. It might scare away the two readers I have.

Mum: No darling, people should see what a migraine really looks like!

Me: No.

Mum: Yes. People should see this. I’ll get my Canon Digital Camera.

I know I wouldn’t be able to wrestle her to the ground in my current condition but I do know exactly what to say to stop my mother dead in her tracks.

Me: Mum, if you take a picture of me looking like this no one will ever want to marry me.

She pauses. I see her struggle. I have appealed to her inner Mrs Bennet that is always lurking just beneath the calm surface of her motherly exterior.

Mum: Good point.

I relaxed and fell back into a fitful sleep. A couple of hours later I awoke to find Mum lovingly replacing ice packs and hot water bottles and puffing up pillows in her professional manner. She tenderly kissed me on the forehead and said, as if to make amends, “You really do have such beautiful eyebrows.” 


  1. Funny and heartbreaking! Thanks for the info and the funny anecdotes! xx

  2. "inner Mrs. Bennett"!! I die! So funny!

    Feel better!

  3. Can you draw what a migraine looks like?
    What does a left sider look like?
    What colour would a right sider be?

  4. Well hello Supermarket Sarah. Um, I don't have your visual artistic creative genius, but I could
    write you a musical comedy number about the two different types?
    My friend The Dorktress, who also writes musicals, thinks in colour - I believe
    there is even a word for that. Not sure I even want to 'see' them like that?

  5. Caroline La Pernelle9 February 2012 at 00:58

    Victoria what beautiful wit for such a devastating condidtion. Keep writing (musicals as well as your blog). Warm thoughts. xxx

  6. Thinking in color is called Synesthesia. I've never put a color to the idea of migraines automatically, but maybe that's because I don't have them?

    However, all numbers have colors. Three is a blueish green. Four is always purple. Five is red. Two is yellow. Zero through 9 all have colors to me, which makes those colorblindness tests with the numbers within them tricky.

    I "see" music in color as well. Vladimir Nabokov was a synesthete and describes his way of seeing and hearing in detail in his biography.

  7. Hi Victoria
    I'm doing an article on Migraine for a newsletter. I've never suffered from them, though my husband used to. Came across your piece by accident (wondered what Heidi Klum had to do with migraines...!) Very funny, which I'm sure they're not. Glad you have such a lovely mum....
    And with eyebrows like yours I'm sure you'll be walking down the aisle soon!

    1. Hi Sarah, Mum also recently told me that I had a cute nose so things are looking up! Do let me know if you need any more info on migraines for your newsletter or want to know where to go for more info! x p.s sadly I don't believe Heid K does get migraines but lots of other celebs do, like Ben Afleck, Janet Jackson...will be bogging about that soon!

  8. How lucky are those of us who have a mom who is understanding and kind! However, they generally shouldn't be allowed to have a camera:)

    1. Hi Linda! I know - she is great - and a great source of comedy! Sorry I haven't commented on your kind and thoughtful comments elsewhere - lots of spamming going on here so getting lost but so glad you've found the monologues!


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