there’s no place like home, even when home sucks

The last time I had a migraine was in college, when I’d been given pain medication for the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth. There was no swelling. I ate eggplant parmigiana. But as a reaction to the drugs, I thought my cranium might split open, as I spent the weekend on the bathroom floor, my head covered in wet green towels. And this weekend, with the loveliest of company in our guest room, for no reason at all, it happened again.

wizard of oz flying monkeys

When I say “no reason of all,” mind you I merely mean no drugs were involved… if you don’t consider two and a half glasses of wine “drugs.” Two full glasses of a Pinot Noir from Oregon, then, in all truth, I can’t quite remember how far along I got with my Sauvignon Blanc, but I’m guessing not that far? I was busy rounding first base with my bread pudding.

Here’s the bitch of it: I drank plenty of water, and come 7am, when the rest of the house was asleep, I popped up, changed diapers, and whirled up some breakfast for a sleeping house. I constructed breakfast faces for the taters: smiling banana lips, a mini-bagel nose with eggs, French toast stick eyes, and strawberry ringlet hair. For the men, I carved through fresh English muffins, turned them “inside out,” lathered on Béarnaise, added thick-sliced Gruyere, chives, egg, and the thinnest rounds of Honey crisp apples I could manage, then threw ‘em onto a sandwich press. The women kept to fruit, eggs, and coffee, and in between it all, the kitchen was clean, hair was swept into pigtails, stories were read, and the day was spread open before us. And then, I’d just go lie down for a minute…which turned into the rest of the migraine weekend from Hades.

There was a point, I was sure, I’d need to go to the hospital. I must be dying. There was so much pressure; my entire scalp and everything inside, felt as if it was ready to cleave open. The Excedrin Migraine medicine didn’t help. I spent the day staring at the ceiling with a garbage bag close at hand for when the vomiting began again. What an awesome way to spend time with your friend and her boy.

At least come Sunday I was up for getting some breakfast, even if I was still fighting the urge to collapse. The afternoon turned brighter when we had a family snuggle on the sofa, retro-sleeves of popcorn in hand, breakfast balloons tied to the beans’ wrists, as we watched with them, for the first time, The Wizard of Oz, the whole way through. I thought for sure they’d cry when the terrifying flying monkeys came on screen, but there were no tears. Except when the wizard took off in his hot air balloon, leaving Dorothy with no way to return home, Kind Sir began to sob. Our sweet sensitive boy couldn’t imagine a world without home, and neither can I.
3 YEARS AGO: Barfly
4 YEARS AGO: Talk To Me



  1. When I was about your age/stage I developed a sudden, awful, allergy to red wine and chocolate that brought on the exact mind-splitting headaches you referred to. The ones that make you want to die. It really sucks because I love, love, love red wine – but now, even a sip or two, or one chocolate chip can put me out of commission for 24+ hours.

    Hope you’re better now…

    1. The red wine gets me too, however it seems to be the only alcohol that causes ill effects. Thank God because there are evenings when a vodka tonic makes everything better.

  2. Play with your pooch. It is documented they add years to your life and reduce headaches.

  3. What did you and Heather do when you got together? You both are such talented writers.

  4. I’ve suffered from migraines since middle school. Mine tend to happen in waves, for months I’ll be migraine free, then for months I will have them one after another. I’ve tried various medications, but when one comes on, the best thing I can do is take asprin (3 to 4, 2 won’t do), crawl into a very dark, quiet room, and wrap my head with anything cold (ice, peas, eye masks), especially at the temples and eyes. If I can manage to sleep for a while, the pain generally subsides to the point of being able to function again.

    Be glad you don’t have them often. If another one sneaks up on you, though, try this and see if it helps.

  5. One word: Frova.

    My doctor prescribed it after he tired of listening to me whine about how much I hated the side effects of most migraine meds. This one kicks headache butt without making the rest of me feel lousy. (I get them monthly, which just adds to the PMS joy, let me tell you.

    Also, Aveda Blue Oil works wonders. Love that stuff.

    I really enjoy your blog, btw. I’m a former Texas girl who grew up just north of Austin. (Round Rock/Cedar Park area) My parents & sisters are still there.

  6. Sulfites in the wine, maybe? Are there sulfites in whites?

    When I was a little girl it was the Wicked Witch of the West that scared the crap out of me. This is my 4-year-old nephew’s favorite movie and none of it scares him.

  7. Ahhh . . . the Wizard DA OZ!!! It has legendary status in our family. It was the ONLY television program we were EVER allowed to watch during dinner. It was an EVENT.

    And even my father, who barely remembers a tradition, or a significant meal, will tell you that we ALWAYS had turkey tetrazini (and buttered toast) for the Wizard of Oz. (The show was usually shown some time shortly after Thanksgiving when left overs were on their wane, but before Christmas programming started.)

    We were allowed to eat upstairs by the television . . . when the scary parts came on we would all run downstairs for seconds!!

    It’s one of those memories that we siblings all still talk about, all still remember the same, and still think of fondly.

  8. I see you’re already getting more advice than you’re probably going to want to read! I started with migraines when I was 12. I had them fairly regularly until menopause. Hooray! Then I would only have what are referred to as ocular migraines. You get the visual aura but not the horrendous follow-up pain. But suddenly, this past spring, I was hit with a 3 week attack of never-ending migraines with pain and ended up in a neurologist’s office sure I was either about to have a stroke or had a tumor. He prescribed Topamax to be taken daily to prevent attacks and Maxalt to be taken if a migraine did break through. The best thing about Topamax? One of the side effects is that one can LOSE up to 60-70 pounds while on it without any change in diet or exercise levels. In fact I’ve lost between 20-30 pounds so far while having 2 spinal surgeries that have kept me very sedentary for the last 6 months. I’ve only had one headache to break through in all that time. I call Topamax a miracle drug, gets rid of headaches and helps one lose weight, too!

  9. It says something about my life that I not only know that Heather Fish & Dork Lord were your houseguests but that Fish has suffered from migraines in the recent past. Note to self – Get your own life.

    That said, both my daughter & I are migraine sufferers, as were/are both my parents. My daughter takes Relpax as needed and if all else fails, tylenol w/codeine which knocks her right out & stays down. Hers are the killer type you describe and for a non-drinking teen, she has spent more time with me holding back her hair while she pukes than seems fair. Mine are less painful and more “sloshy” for lack of a better word. I drink copious amounts of coffee, take Exced migraine and whine. They sometimes slosh around for days.

    That said, take note of where you are in your cycle, and if you get another one in the near future, compare cycle times; there may be a similarity and sometimes birth control pills can help.

  10. Red Wine = migraines. Some types of red wine, nore than others so you just have to experiment. I get migraines too so I know how you felt. Even after the pain is gone, one is left kind of out of it. Just watch what you eat when you get the migraines and slowly you’ll start to figure out what foods are “trigger foods”. For me it’s mostly red wine and hard cheeses, but sometimes also stress.

  11. I am so sorry a migraine spoiled your visit with Heather and Dark Lord! I get them, too, and mine are directly linked with drinking red wine, stress and hormones. I was getting them once a month until I actually went OFF birth control. But even now, with the right conditions — stress, too much wine and “that point” in my cycle — I’ll be down for days. Hope you are feeling better and that you’ll go a long long time without another.

  12. Yeah, of course the women didn’t eat anything (because God forbid we should live instead of being obsessed with weight and attractiveness to men).

  13. Both red and white wines contain sulfites, however, white wines actually contain MORE than reds. SO headaches from red wine are not because there are more sulfites in reds. It’s simply not true.

    If you were truly “allergic” to sulfites, you would experience immediate violent reactions such as skin rashes, etc.

    Sulfites are a naturally occurring element in wine, they help preserve it. You can find organic wine that does not contain sulfites, but it won’t last long (even with sulfites wines lasts about 2 days after being opened before it starts to ‘change’). As far as taste, couldn’t tell ya.

    I would, however, suggest that you could be allergic to the histamines in red wine. It has WAY more than white wine. This is pretty common. It could also be the tannin, which is also found in walnuts and come chocolate. Anything that gives your tongue that little tingle in the center of it.

    Hope that helps. =)

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