The incredible John “Jack” Kirby–our phenomenally talented piano player, and the MVP of my upcoming album Golden Delicious–was in town yesterday, and we were gonna get together with our friend Wendy, who did the Reverb Barenaked Planet stuff on the Barenaked Ladies tour last year, and consume massive amounts of vegan nosh at Caravan of Dreams. Just as I emerged from the B train, I saw a tiny sparkling spot just to the left of the center of my sight. It’s unmistakeable; the beginnings of a migraine.
I’ve been getting migraines since about the fourth grade. I get what is called an “aura” beforehand–that shimmering, crystalline spot grows larger over about an hour, until half my field of vision is vibrating. It has this very psychedelic effect of blanking out a part of whatever I’m focused on; a word will be missing from text, a nose from a face, a finger from my hand.
An odd an awkward part is that, though I’m not in pain, and won’t be for 90 minutes or so, I have to call whomever I’m supposed to meet with and calmly state that I’m about to be in horrible pain. Happily (uh, actually, not so happily), John gets migraines with the same aura, so he understood. Not everybody gets the aura; some people get no signal, some people get strange things like an intense smell of citrus fruit.
I would get them at school and have to go to the nurse’s office and matter-of-factly explain that I had to go home. I often would have to fake some pain so I could get home, and into a dark room, before the actual pain came on.
They’re caused by the restriction of veins in the temples. A doctor once described migraines to me as an extremely mild form of a stroke.
I get them rarely in the past few years–maybe one or two, yearly. When I first got clean, and my mind was going haywire, I would have jags where I got them every other day for weeks. When El Oso was being recorded–it was a horrible emotional mess, the struggle of making those Soul Coughing records–I was getting them daily. Obviously to me, it’s my brain telling me that I have to get into a dark room immediately, that it’s essentially the nuclear option for my inner self to commandeer my stressed-out body.
This is the second one this month, and I’m uneasy. What is my brain trying to tell me? Am I stressed out and unaware of it? What’s going on that I’m not noticing?