It’s 3:00 a.m. when I open my eyes. My right eye feels heavy and hot. If I move my head too quickly, burning stabs sear through my temple like lightning bolts. I fumble around in the dark for remedies I had nearly forgotten. I try so hard to not wake my sleeping husband as I stumble, walk into furniture, and drop precious ice packs and a bag full of medicine as I make my way out of the bedroom, down the hall, and finally drop everything on the sofa. The burning pain in my eye blinds me as acidic tears roll down my cheek. I grab a cold can of grape-flavored energy drink and press it into my eye socket for a moment before opening it.
“Ouch! That’s too cold.” I complain as I press a hot pack to my temple. It only takes moments to realize that heat is not helping either. Pressure feels the best, yet I can’t seem to press hard enough to chase away the fire. I pace about, desperately longing for the sweet relief usually brought on by the strong flow of cold pure oxygen.
“Damn it! Why did I wait so long to ask the doctor for a new supplier? I brought this on myself. I should have known better. I was just asking to get hit hard.”
“STOP IT!” I scold myself in a silent scream.
I take a deep breath and try to wrap the velcro ice pack tighter around my head. I lie back against a throw pillow and take a deep cleansing breath.
“Get up. MOVE.”
I obey the disembodied voice that echoes from deep within the saner recesses of my mind. In the stillness of early morning I am not sane. The searing pain drives me to madness. In my solitary hell I lose all inhibitions. I rock and pace, swinging myself from side to side, cursing at the pain to stop. I almost believe the battle is lost as I stretch my nearly naked body flat on the cold tiles of my kitchen floor. I roll from side to side in an even rhythm, finally crawling to the sliding glass door where I press my face against its cold, flat surface. This momentary relief is broken by the crash of yet another lightning strike within my head. A low gutterral moan escapes from my lips.
If I did not know the truth, I might easily be convinced that all the demons of hell had descended upon me.
“Demons might be easier,” I smirk with a biting sarcasm I have learned to embrace.
I wonder how much longer I can endure. It’s such a strange thought that I chuckle out loud, “Since when has this beast ever given me the option to walk away?”This torment burns like a wildfire for nearly 3 hours, hitting screaching high notes that explode like napalm. With each sour note I suppress the urge to cry out. I pull my hair with equal intensity to counterbalance the raging fire within. The stabs come stronger and faster.
Just when I think the next volley will be the end of me, the fire cools a bit. A sudden chill sweeps over me as my body relaxes from pure exhaustion. Grabbing a blanket, I recline back and begin to breathe again. My right eye and temple feel bruised. The warmth of a heated rice bag feels good on my tender scalp. The fire within is slowly burning itself out.
I drift off in an exhausted sleep just before my family wakes for the day.