Monday, October 30, 2006


I had a migraine last week. I've been getting these things on and off since my mid-twenties, but for the past few years I've managed to stave off the full-blown ones off by popping a crafty pill when the warning signs show. But on Monday I was driving around in France (OK, Calais), and I didn't notice the signs. So anyway, I've been "under" for most of the week. By that I mean I just wasn't there, I was in Migraine Land. The Charlie that remained in your world was a pathetic thing. He can't even go for a piss without puking his guts (I could go into further detail but it's just too depressing). He says things like "yeah", when his concerned wife asks "Are you OK?" And "no" to the question "Do you need anything?" He's got one eye half-open for much of the time, peering somewhere in that light-starved, forbidding room. He does this because when he closes them both, that's when he goes to Migraine Land.

I say Migraine Land, but it's more like the inner landscapes of my imagination. I hate to sound precious but that's really what it seems like to me. Every time I shut my eyes I'm in a different place, and some sort of scene unfolds. Everything is in crisp detail, right down to the things on the periphery. You can walk right up to that plant and examine it. That singer in the bar, she has a consistent look, and she doesn't morph from one thing to another like they do in dreams. One time you can be soaring over snow-capped mountains towards a blood-red horizon. Then you open your eyes for a bit. Then you go back in (close your eyes) and it's this extended Rambo scenario where you have a gun and ammo and you're on one of those snowcapped mountains, and there's an entire army after you. You wipte out a few hundred of them but they keep coming, so you jump down an abandoned mineshaft. Now, at this point in a dream you would probably go off on a tangent. But not here, in Migraine Land. The bastards are still coming after you, and you have to find your way through the tunnel network and out the other side, where a chopper is hovering in wait. It's OK though - you have grenades. And the baddies are pretty poor at aiming. But there's just so many...

Unlike dreams, it's easy to remember as much of it as I want. You get pretty sick of it though, so after a while you just want it to go away and have your brain back. That's why you have your eye half-open a lot of the time.

I've got a theory about these migraines. They are hell, yes, but I see them as a function rather than a sickness. They always seem to come along when I'm stressed or exhausted, and they force you to lay low and shut down for (in my case) a few days. During that time I can't eat, and all I can drink is mineral water and maybe some lemonade. So your body detoxes. Left alone in your darkened room you have no attachment to the everyday world, so you can't worry about the issues of that world. So you shut your eyes: suddenly you're in a sort of post-apocalyptic urban ghetto, although palm trees are growing out of the sides of cracked buildings, and bison vie with strange, hooded people to graze bits of pizza off the pavement...

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