We here at the Fraudsters Almanac take our writing more seriously than it deserves (and more seriously than anyone rightfully should take a review website). So when a migraine unexpectedly struck me this morning and ruined my writing schedule (and day), I was doubly unhappy. In lieu of this shittiest of semi-regular occurrences in my life, I decided to forgo my original beer critique and focus on this awful physiological state instead. It deserves a bad review.
The Bottle: Personally, there’s nothing auspicious about the day my head is going to feel like it’s cracking open like an egg. I usually wake up with no idea that a good chunk of the next twenty-four hours will be forfeit. In retrospect, however, there is typically some combination of the following: too much or too little caffeine, too much alcohol the day before, too little food, too much or too little water (yes, I drink so much water that sometimes it’s maybe too much), too little sleep.
But then there are days like today when I’ve done nothing at all stressful to my body and a migraine still decides to tear through my head. So if I were imagining the packaging for a migraine, this is what it would look like:
The Colour: Once a migraine is on its way, its arrival is more or less inevitable. The only upshot is that there is a recognizable build-up, a warning, that occurs before the full onslaught hits. For me, this “aura” is a delightful swirl of nausea, anxiety, and increasing sensitivity to lights, sounds, and smells. When I feel it coming, I know it’s time to find a quiet, dark, flat space and prepare to get walloped. There’s no avoiding it, only bracing for the impending hours of discomfort.
So in my analogy, I’d say the colour is green like a novelty St. Patrick’s Day beer, in that both migraine auras and green food colouring in cheap lager promise further pain to come.
The Flavour: Onto the main show. The term “migraine” derives from the Greek “hemikrania”, as in half the head, and that’s certainly how I experience it: like somebody is drilling into the side of my skull, just above and behind one of my ears. Couple that with pretty intense nausea and the sensation that every light and sound is like a meteor blasting by my face, and it’s not very much fun.
If I’m lucky (which I was today), I’m lying down and as comfortable as possible when it hits, but still it feels awful. On occasion, I’ve been stuck in a car or somewhere bright/loud/etc. and ended up throwing up into a bag, more from the constant pain than the nausea itself. How charming!
And if you don’t think all that is enough, migraines top it all off with an extended hangover period wherein I am woozy, my head is sore, and I feel like I’m looking at the world through a gauze. (Incidentally, this is where I’m writing from, so if any of this doesn’t make sense, it’s because my head is mashed potatoes.)
The Verdict: I’ve had plenty of headaches in my life, mainly from questionable life choices like drinking draft beer or getting a PhD. But migraines are an entirely different beast, hours and hours of being debilitated, useless, and in pain. They are worse than a hangover, with none of the fun from the night before. And because they aren’t universally experienced by all, I have to wonder if there’s a tendency for people who don’t get migraines to think that people who do get them are being melodramatic. So I’m here to tell you, if you’re lucky enough not to get them, that migraines are real, and they are shit.
It was strange to have these “headaches” for years as a kid, only to find out that all of the symptoms, from aura to migraine to “postdrome” (hangover), are well categorized. There’s something validating about knowing your pain is, to about 15% of the population, a shared phenomenon.
So I can say unequivocally that, while I think Foster the People are abysmal and Goodnight Moon isn’t a very good children’s book, migraines are by far the worst thing I’ve ever reviewed on this website. They are just terrible. Screw you, migraines!