12 October 2010

Like a whirlpool that never ends

You may know, thanks to my previously banging on about it on here, that I am prone to migraines. Well, on Saturday night I had the worst one of my life.

It wasn't so much the symptoms, but the after-effects. I'm still suffering them now and it's nearly lunchtime on Tuesday.

Up I am on the stage, playing 80s tunes as ever and I have a satisfyingly full dancefloor. Then, at about 12.30am, my vision begins to cloud over a bit. This can happen just because I happen to have looked at one of the flashing lights for a millisecond too long, but after an hour or so there's no sign of it going.

Then at just after 1am, the aura that is familiar to so many migraine sufferers, hits my eyes. On goes Like A Prayer, a record that at almost six minutes long (the proper, brilliant, stop-start single version, not the one on The Immaculate Collection) gives me time to find a doorman to guard my stuff while I dash out to the car where my tablets are in the door pocket.

Back inside, I neck two of the tablets while Madonna still plays. The next bit is the waiting bit. Maybe it's like taking a pregnancy test in that the moment when you can do nothing but wait is the hardest bit. The tablets are there as a preventative remedy. An unfought migraine will, in my case, lose its aura after half an hour or so and then, after a ten minute recess, a headache that has you pleading to die there and then hits you.

So, the tablets begin to do their thing and as I continue to play girlish pop of the 80s (Tiffany, Taylor Dayne, Irene Cara - it happened to be that section; next time I'll ask the migraine to hit an hour earlier when the Jam, the Specials and the Smiths are on so I look cooler), the aura subsides. It's about 2am. I have an hour and a half to go of loud music and bright lights, not to mention people shouting requests in my ear accompanied by saliva. If the headache comes, I won't be able to carry on.

It doesn't come.

I get to 3.25am with a relatively clear head and line of vision. On goes the last song of the night and I pack my gear up. I'm staying locally due to radio commitments the next day and so am grateful not to have the two hour journey home ahead.

And as I get into my B&B issue bed at 3.45am, the headache arrives. I had got to the stage where I expected it not to arrive at all but the tablets had only managed to delay it. Fortunately, I was so unbelievably dog tired that I was fast asleep before it fully reached its mojo and my fatigue was too strong to allow the pain to override it.

I woke up at 9am feeling as shattered as usual, and a little light-headed, but no worse for wear. Breakfast, then to the car and an autumnal drive to Harrogate. I was on air there for midday and, aside from aircon problems making me too hot, all was okay until 4pm when I finished up and headed back to the north west.

I had something to eat and then returned to the club for the Sunday shift and began to feel very dizzy in the early evening. I had a chat with the landlady and discussed the possibility of going home but in the end I stayed. I hate being off sick, absolutely hate it. I had a couple more tablets and got started. Being on my feet and with a cold, soft drink next to me, I began to liven up and we got to about 1am.

Then my guts started on me.

I won't go into unpleasant detail, but I'm reminded of an episode of Cardiac Arrest. That, I'm sure you remember, was a 1990s drama series written by a doctor-turned-scriptwriter as an antidote to Casualty about what really went on in NHS wards, warts and all, to the extent that a petrified Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley felt obliged to give interviews after the first episode to deny the NHS was in such a state. It was shot on film and gave the impression of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, despite being fictional, scripted and acted. It also made famous Helen Baxendale, who played one of the consultants.

Anyway, there was one edition where the ultra-overworked junior doctor Andrew Collin was absolutely desperate for the loo after a particularly dodgy/heavy/fiery meal the night before. He regularly clutched his stomach and made for the gents' cubicle but kept being stopped by emergency situations or medical distractions that, selflessly, he took to be more important than his own. After hours of being forced to hold on, the episode ended with a rare moment of tranquillity in the ward and Dr Collin finally being allowed to open the cubicle door. The credits rolled to a darkened backdrop and the sound of absolute relief we are all capable of making when, well, bursting.

I felt like him. Let's just say that for an hour or so, I couldn't go when my system was on red alert because either the record I was playing was too short or the one cubicle in the gents was occupied. And, again, without going into detail, when I finally achieved my aim, the result wasn't because of something dodgy I'd eaten but quite clearly an after-effect of the migraine, like the dizziness before.

I managed to drive home afterwards and slept well but spent yesterday in a right state. I was dizzy, woozy, unbalanced and cloudy eyed. Bending over or crouching down resulted in me toppling over when trying to stand upright again afterwards. Today is Tuesday and, after another decent night's kip, I now have only mild dizziness and still a cloudy eye. I'm loath to take more pills because they're strong old things and I'd rather use them to attack a migraine than fend off the after-effects of a previous one.

I'm not helping myself or my misty eyes, of course, by writing a blog entry about it. But all of us who have these journals know they're therapeutic. It feels like it's done me some good. I may even get dressed for the first time in two days...


Mondo said...

That is miserable - I hate it when you feel the blind spots start and those whirling sqiggles moving to the outer rim of your vision.
Strangely mine have changed from full on clonkers to what are called silent migraines. I get the early warning signs, but no headaches or after-effects.

Simon said...


I've also suffered in the past so you have my sympathy. I can't think of a worse environment for one to strike than a nightclub either.