It has been a long, strange weekend for me. Mostly good things, plus a couple of basically overlapping migraines today (more on that later). My youngest sibling, my brother Heath, turned 18 Saturday. Happy Birthday.
But let’s start sooner? Friday. I covered some of that in another post. Writing and ironing and watching a DVD. Good stuff. The DVD, A Few Good Men, was a total and utter disappointment. Probably all the years of hearing that one famous line from it combined with the fact that it was ridiculously predictable and not at all shocking made me feel like there should have been more to it. Much more. The ‘payoff’ moment was more of ‘okay, now what?’ – but there wasn’t anything left after that.
Anyway, after that, I set around reading stuff online while watching my brother play the copy of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time I just bought for my XBox for $10… He went to bed around 1:30 and I moved to my room and kept reading until a little after 2, but then even after I went to bed I was thinking about the stuff I was reading until after at least 4AM. Which would have been fine, since I don’t work and didn’t have any plans on Saturday, except a close friend of mine called me up before 9AM to announce that they were on their way to my door. Now, I tend to be very loyal and available and devoted to my good friends, so it was no surprise to me that with no notice and almost no sleep I was up and ready and met them at my door and spent as much time as was needed with them to work out the details that needed to be worked out. It involves a discrete personal matter, so out of discretion for the parties involved I will not go into details, but I will say that by the time we parted ways, everything that could be figured out with information available was figured out, and decisions were made and good things are the result already, plus I believe that with my help, this person has begun down exactly the right path and will have much personal and emotional fulfillment if they stick by their decisions. So. All around good, and I still had some day left.
Of course, my mind wasn’t working so hot by this point between the intensity of the interactions with my friend and the lack of sleep, and I don’t remember all that occurred in between, but I know I went to go watch a movie. Coach Carter. It met, but did not exceed, my expectations. Which is usually a good thing, I think Means I knew what I was getting into when I bought my ticket, and generally that means I got my money’s worth. Then I went to Starbucks and didn’t write. I can’t tell you why I went there or why I didn’t write… that’s just how it went. Spent several hours there, fiddling with a deck of cards, wanting someone else to play with. Didn’t really play much myself, mostly shuffled and fiddled and wondered why I was there. If anyone can tell me, that would be awesome.
Anyway, went home, it was late, I can’t remember if I did anything… went to bed. Too bad about no plans or accomplishments for Saturday night. I hear there was a party several people I know were having that I was apparently intentionally uninvited to. I simultaneously wish I had gone and hadn’t gone, since apparently the people there didn’t want me to be there – but it would have given me something to do, and maybe to give them another chance to get another impression of me. Oh well.
Got up this morning, played some video games, watched Napoleon Dynamite. Which, despite my very, very low expectations for it, failed to meet my expectations. I thought it was going to be really bad, really crappy, and not hold my attention or interest, and it was somehow less interesting and less entertaining than I was expecting. There were perhaps a couple of chuckles in it, but nothing to get so many people so excited about it. I did not pay to see it, and I still feel ripped-off. Like the time I spent watching it could have been better spent playing the same WarioWare microgames over and over and over again until I can beat the level – which would probably have been what I would have done otherwise. My brain is in a weird place right now.
Anyway, then around before 1 my family and I went over to Angela’s for Heath’s birthday supper/party. Salad, spaghetti, cake and ice cream, good quality time with everyone. It was prettygood, until suddenly, after the eating was done and we were just chatting (not yet chatting about going to IKEA, which might have made sense, since the money-spending might have been a stressful thing for me) when suddenly I began to go blind. I won’t go into the details of the experience, but I knew immediately that I was having an occular migraine. Briefly, for me, usually, it goes like this: growing blindness for about twenty minutes with no pain at all, then the blindness diminishes as pain begins to excalate to a nearly unbearable level. If untreated, the pain is intense enough to make me cry, it makes me extra-sensitive to light and noise, and causes disorientation and intense pain if I spin at all or bend down or over, even slowly. I have not, until today, had an occular migraine since 2002, when I was still working at Realink. I know that if I take Excedrin or equivalent (ie: ibuprofen plus tylenol plus caffeine) in sufficient dosage as soon as I first notice myself going blind, I can reduce or completely prevent the pain part of the migraine. Today there was only Ibuprofen (and Mountain Dew), and I … I probably should have taken more.
We went to IKEA and from well before we left the house until around the time (hours and hours later) that we were about to check out, I was in intense pain. It made it hard to concentrate, hard to think, hard to read, and I spent a lot of time sitting on various IKEA couches, chairs, and sometimes just wherever I could find. If I bent over to grab something, it was like a pressure valve opening up and suddenly increasing the pressure inside my head a dozen times. A couple of times the throbbing in my head got loud enough that I couldn’t hear people talking over it and had to ask them to repeat themselves. But I know I can deal with pain, even intense pain, and I just worked around it. Like when I had been blind earlier in the day and my sister handed me something to read, I could hold the paper to the side of the blindness and could recognize what she was referring to and see that there was text there, but since the center of my vision was included in the neurological obstruction I couldn’t read the words – so I handed it back to her and asked her to read it aloud after taking in what I could of the pictures.
Anyway, when we got to the very end of IKEA, where I was supposed to get the box with my un-assembled bookcase and put it on a cart, there were none there. Not that I couldn’t find where it was supposed to be, like some idiots I know who ended up home with totally different products from IKEA, but that in the spot where it was supposed to be there were none. Every other color and size and option of the BILLY set was available, plus every option of every set on that aisle, I noted, as I waited to talk to an IKEA employee. They said “yep, out of stock” and “no scheduled delivery of more” and “call before you come next time to see if it’s here, maybe in two weeks or more.” So then I had to decide between taking nothing and selecting other, less adequate and/or more expensive options. I had meant to get a single wide bookcase and a height extension for it, about $105 together. Something I’d thought of adding later (part of why I wanted BILLY; it can be added to at any time with any other BILLY of the same color, and there are plenty of options I like, so I thought “get this one part now, get more later when you can afford it!”) was a combination of the narrower bookcase, the matching BENNO CD/DVD tower, and the same height extension I was going to get before, since the narrow one plus the BENNO is the same width as the wide one. These three together is about $145 before tax, so not much more and almost exactly equivalent storage space. Of note: not finding the product I (and my family) had spent time and energy not just driving the 50miles round trip to the store but then walking around the store with a migraine to get, plus trying to decide whether I could afford to spend more money when I’d felt I was stretching it with the height extension in the first place – these stresses didn’t seem to add to or in any way interact with my migraine. In fact, shortly thereafter when I bent down and noticed some mild-seeming pain (probably relatively pretty bad) I realised that the whole stress part had just felt like … stress. This migraine probably wasn’t brought on by stress.
So, I bought the stuff, plus some keen plastic flatware, ate some cheap-but-good IKEA hotdogs, loaded the stuff in my sister’s van, then after a drive moved the stuff into the car (tricky), and we all returned home. It was still early, so I decided to try to assemble my new stuff while watching the original Flight of the Phoenix on DVD. I did the BENNO first, no problems (after we found a hammer and a phillips screwdriver – we did find like, 80 flathead screwdrivers before we got to a hammer though), it looks good and fit right and yay. Then I took out the instructions for the bookcase and ate a piece of the cake from the party. Almost immediately into building the bookcase, my vision started to go again. I tried not to pay attention to it, thinking it was just more of the same from earlier in the day, but I should have taken pills right away. Before long I was about 3/5 blind and in increasing pain and I had to ask my dad to do part of the assembly because it required sight. Most of it I could do from the edges of my vision and by feel (counting holes, judging distance by hand lengths, et cetera), but there was that one step that could not be done without sight. Anyway, I got that and the height extension together without incident. Again, it looks good, mostly matches (the bookcase is slightly more red than the BENNO and extension, but not even close to as red as their next redder color, so I didn’t grab the wrong box, it’s just from a different batch of veneer), and when I put it together in my room, it fit right together and looks marvelous (to me) but lonely (it wants more BILLY!). In between the bookcase and the extension the pain got to be enough that I was crying or nearly crying at every screw or dowel, so I took a big handful of ibuprofen and tylenol and water and water. Didn’t want caffeine, since it was already growing late.
Alas, when all the work was done building it, I was still in intense enough pain that I couldn’t have slept, so I stayed up and put away several boxes of books (this was the real goal – to unpack the boxes of books that were taking up my closet space so I can move the clothes and bedclothes and stuff that is sitting around obstructing the floor of my room to the closet where it belongs, thus creating more neatness and more ROOM in my room. And believe me, there was much whining and crying to myself as I bent over and picked up boxes of books or leaned down to put a book on a shelf or even just leaned down to sit down instead of sitting straight down with my back upright… it has been painful. Painful enough, in fact, that even after I’d got through the four boxes I’d aimed for I was still in enough pain that I didn’t think I could sleep, so set down here to write this. I still hurt, but I think I can sleep now. Or soon.
Anyway, the only thing I can figure is that something in the cake brought this on, since the blindness began twice today within a few minutes of eating the cake. Chocolate cake from a box/mix. Whipped cream for frosting from the freezer case (generic cool whip, basically, from a tub) and sprinkles. Really old sprinkles, apparently. One or more of the ingredients in one or more of those things may have brought this on.
Now, I like to be scientific about things, I like to get my facts straight and get as much information as possible, but being in this much pain for this long … I don’t know if I’ll be brave enough to try eating the cake scientifically – just the cake with no whipped cream nor sprinkles, then on a separate occassion just that same whipped cream without cake or sprinkles, then on another day just the sprinkles by themselves. And then if none of those has caused a new occular migraine, the combinations – the cake with the whipped cream and not the sprinkles, the cake with the sprinkles and not the whipped cream, the whipped cream with the sprinkles and no cake, and the combination of all three again. Until I know what causes me to be in this much pain for 5 or 6 hours at a shot more definitively. What do YOU think?
I’m going to go try to sleep. I have to go to work in a few hours.