It doesn’t just strike you, it builds up. You feel it coming, yet are powerless to stop its arrival or alter the effects of its stay.
First it’s just a realization that you’ve been frowning — your forehead hurts from the sustained muscle contraction. Next, a rising pressure inside your face that makes you wonder if this is what a plastic fishbowl feels like when you fill it up with water — like the entire surface area needs to expand out like a balloon. Yet personal things like your hair, eyebrows and teeth refuse to move, so your head maintains its shape even though it now feels like a water trough.
One minute, your ear feels like it’s filled with cotton. All sounds dim and you can suddenly hear your teeth grating against one another as your jaw clenches tight. A second later, the same ear feels like someone is trying to pry it off your head, as if dismantling one of those Pop Bead necklaces from your 1980s childhood. No person should ever feel like their appendages are just a suggestion… “What would you like to wear today, Ms. Potato Head? An ear on the side of your head? Or would you rather I attach an arm in that hole today?”
At this point, you admit that you’re squinting even though you’re inside. Your temples start humming — it’s only a matter of time before they pulse to a beat echoed in this tender spot right underneath your ear and behind your jaw… ba bump, ba bump, ba bump. A cadence set by heartbeats and performed by blood in vessels overly constricted.
Cold fingers press and smooth eyebrows out toward the hairline, but once removed the forehead furrows snap back into place. Your head feels too small for the contents within, and you check to make sure nothing is seeping out of your ear. There is visible relief when it is confirmed that no brain matter is smeared upon your fingertips.
A sip of water confirms the diagnosis as teeth recoil from the sensation of room temperature h-two-oh floods your mouth and swirls around the gums. Your brain experiences what can only be described as a bloom of pain, and your eyelids flutter closed on a fireworks display from within.
Others who suffer similarly cry out for mercy killings… and as someone who experiences migraines on a regular basis, I have only three words.
“Sign me up.”