500mg Cocodamol. Use As Needed.


I suffer from migraines.

And no, I do not mean headaches. I do not mean a little pounding in the temples after a 10 hour Call of Duty marathon or a whole day of shopping for jeans in the Primark sale. I mean migraines. I mean feeling like your brain is actually swelling, breathing very carefully through waves of pain, blurry vision, fleeing from bright lights, got to lie down before I fall down kind of migraines. When they come on I am good for absolutely nothing whatever. Harems of zombies could climb through my window and I would not get up. It could start raining champagne and I would not get up. Michael Fassbender could walk through the front door of my house demanding to woo me…. and I might get up.

I have tried in the past to battle through them but as the nausea grows and my eyesight gives way to a charming ballet of multi-coloured bubbles I will eventually give in. Then comes The Game, the lying-absolutely-still-and-praying-for-it-to-be-over game. The rules are simple, don’t make any sudden moves, don’t turn your head to the left or the right, don’t watch any screens or even think about trying to read a book, in fact don’t focus on anything at all. And whatever you do, no matter what monster drags itself on gnarled limbs from under your bed to drool bloody saliva on your face or however much you suddenly need to pee…. DO NOT STAND UP. Should you stand up every single drop of blood in your entire body will fall into your feet, your temperature will rocket to hotter than a pizza oven at the center of the sun, your head will spin, you will feel a sudden and violent urge to puke, you will get pins and needles in your face and the pain will get so bad you feel like your brain is trying to escape your body through your nasal cavity and you will have lost The Game. Thinking thoughts longer than a single syllable is completely impossible and therefore need not be against the rules of The Game. Answering your mother’s questions when she flutters around asking about pain on a scale of one to 10 and muttering the word ambulance is not strictly against the rules of The Game but it is frowned upon in circumstances other than those necessary to convince her you haven’t died.

So you see, I do not get headaches. I get migraines.

As a result I read about migraines a lot. My David-Cameron-lookalike GP loves to imply that if he can’t tell you what it is then it isn’t really an illness. However, despite his protests, medicine is an evolving science and theories on the causes and cures for migraines are evolving too. The current theory in vogue is that of the devil screen. People with migraines are instructed to blame their television and computer. There are bylaws about posture and sedentary living, but the general gist is, abandon retina display all ye who enter here.

I have a different theory. My theory is that migraines are caused… by other human beings.

Handy topical example: the waitress at the cafe I am parked in at the moment just bought me a pot of tea… without a tea bag in it.

Other people related migraine phenomena include, but are by no means at all limited to, jokes that are not even close to being remotely within spitting distance of the merest hint of a snigger… let alone actually funny.

Long anecdotal example:

Picture the scene, I am minding my own business on the tube. An elderly couple from out of town are discussing the possibility that they are currently on the wrong train. They seem admirably blithe about the prospect of heading away from their destination at high speed and maybe I pause to mentally applaud them for the zen. Cue irritating, smug, apparently helpful bystander.

“Oh, I remember the days when the circle line was actually a circle. Then there would have been no chance of getting on the wrong train really.”

I should probably mention at this point that I mentally berated this foolish man for the blatant idiocy of thinking that taking the long way on the circle line and circumnavigation the ENTIRETY OF CENTRAL LONDON in order to arrive at the exact same spot on which the right train headed in the right direction could have landed you in as little as one stop… was not wrong in the most traditional sense of the word. (“not correct in action, judgment, opinion, method etc. as a person, in error. Not in accordance with requirements or recommended practice. Out of order. Awry. Amiss.“) But I did not have long to dwell on Interpolator’s wry “wit” before this happened…

“Ah, no. Now it is more of a lasso.” Um. WHAT? What are you talking about you geographically challenged old coot? But the hilarity continues, if you can believe it.

“Ha! A lasso, exactly.” No! Do not encourage him.

“Only it doesn’t catch anything.”

Behold! Uproarious chuckling. And BAM. Migraine, right there in the midst of awkward toothy laughter, the birth of a migraine. I hereby retract my mental applause at the aplomb with which the elderly couple had handled realizing they’d managed to navigate in the exact opposite direction to that intended. All along  what had appeared to be healthy English forbearance was actually just their being a few prawns short of a cocktail. I can only assume that the old man had aimed, somewhat myopically, for a ribald critique of the London Underground system and its famed whimsical ways: the  closing of long stretches of line for weekends at a time, how the lights go out on the northern line when it stops in a tunnel because it’s cute to freak out commuters after a long day of flicking paperclips into office trash cans, the token guy who thinks its a hoot to run for the closing doors and for total strangers to have to save his fearless a*se from getting trapped and losing an extremity, the people who smell so bad it almost counts as a war crime and who’s armpits are invariably at the exact height of my nose, the way no one ever knows if they need the train that goes via bank or the other one, the long standing practical joke that is the rail replacement bus service. Bit rich to joke at the expense of a system you can’t even use correctly, no? Or maybe it’s just that, after 23 years as a Londoner, I have grown fond of my trusty rail network and will staunchly defend it against abuse from the peanut gallery.

Bye for now.


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