Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Foggy with a Veil of Haze

I wondered out loud why I still felt as if I was surrounded by a fog.
Joyce scoffed. “After what you’ve been through, I’m surprised your eyes are still in their sockets.”
Through the haze in my mind, I tried to think back to the last day and a half. I only remembered things in snatches. I did remember the pain was horrific. On a scale of one to ten, it was a… forty two? Nowhere near as bad as the headaches I experienced in hospital, but much worse than any headache I’ve had in several years.
I knew when the headache first started that this was going to be a bad one, that there was no preventing it. If I was lucky, I’d be able to postpone the worst of it until I was done at work for the day. I also knew that if I did that, the headache would end up being much much worse than it would be if I immediately left for home to rest.
But I had so much to do. The academic year was about to start in a few days. I was running the TA (Teaching Assistant) training workshop, hiring undergraduate student TAs, and— I had no choice. I had to push through this.
I reached for the candied ginger and stuffed three pieces in my mouth, then washed down a couple of Aleve with a mouthful of water. It took the edge off, which was good enough, for now. Whenever the fog threatened to engulf me, I popped another piece or two of ginger into my mouth. It kept the headache from escalating too badly and cleared my head sufficiently to keep going. But as the day wore on, the ginger was losing effectiveness. By the end of the day, I was running on fumes.
I only had room in my mind for one thought—I had to head home. If the thought that I shouldn’t drive entered my mind, it didn’t take. I’m not sure how I managed the drive. I don’t remember much of it. I think that at one point, I closed my eyes for a split second, opening them to a close call—I was heading straight for a pole, but managed to swerve into traffic in time only to swerve to the right to avoid an oncoming car. Close to home, as I drove past a hospital, it occurred to me that I should drive straight to the ER, but immediately squashed the thought—I couldn’t manage the logistics of locating the entrance and parking the car.
I barely made it home before my head exploded, the pain erupting to another level. As I walked in the door, I croaked to Daniel, “I might have to go to the ER.”
I stumbled upstairs and collapsed into bed. And there I stayed for the next twenty four hours, dozing on and off.
I vaguely remember Joyce checking on me. She and Daniel brought me cold packs, which took the edge off the pain. I couldn’t get to sleep without one against my forehead. And when the pack warmed up, the pain became excruciating. When I wasn’t asleep, I felt as if I was surrounded by a fog, a haze of pain, that kept the world out of focus.
The worst of the headache lasted well into the next day. Finally, in the late afternoon, I felt able to join the living, albeit gingerly.
Still fragile, the headache ready to erupt any minute unless I was extremely cautious, I went in to the office the following day, forty eight hours since the headache started. I felt as if I was in a fog, my thoughts slow to respond to my muffled surroundings. Within a couple of hours, I had to pack it in and go back home—my headache was starting up again.