If Brains Could Scream, Mine Would Have Been Shattering Windows and Wine Glasses
Eyes wide, jaw clenched, agony surging through me…
A flaming ice pick protruded from my head, while my brains were being pulled up the Archimedes screw that had been engineered to fit inside the tip.
The misery extended from the point of origin parallel to my left eye on the left meridian extending up from my spine all the way along the base of my left jawbone.
If brains could scream, mine would have been shattering windows and wine glasses.
The certainty of death stared right back into my own eyes in the mirror.
For the previous 3 days, a headache had been clawing around inside my head like a wildcat trying to get out of a duffle bag that he had found a cream puff pastry in and lost his way out.
There I stood. Staring into the bathroom mirror. “Senmenjo” – the word in Japanese… It’s the anteroom to the bath tub room. Whatever it’s called, I stood in it. Literally wondering if I was about to lose function of part or all of my body… or simply die.
Stand. Focus. Breathe. Stare into my eyes reflecting back at me. My pain management training kicked in. Just wait. Breathe. The porcelain of the wash basin felt cool under my hands. Good. I can use that. Hold on. Hold on. The floor felt soft under my feet, the textured linoleum, slightly sticky in the sickly summer humidity. Keep hold, man, keep hold. Breathe. Strange metallic flavor in my mouth… not sure what, or why… but it’s a sensation.
Body work, remember my body work. Then it hit me. Every muscle in my neck was a rock. I followed the muscles down in my mind’s eye and my body’s sensations… very revealing.
As the minutes passed, and the pain in my brain loosened its grip, the surety that I was going to be sticking around in this mortal coil for a bit longer seeped over me.
Eventually the pain subsided entirely. Well, the pain in my brain. The neck and back pain still lingered.
It became obvious: I need to do something about this.
I found an old book on yoga and sat down in front of my sofa. Yoga (101 Essential Tips)
Quickly thumbing through, the stretches I would need popped out at me: neck, upper back, lower back – and eyes.
I started with the eye stretches. I felt like a school boy making funny faces at people.
Then the neck. Then the simple back stretches to the front and back.
Humility hit me as I realized I was far less limber than in my younger days. Even in my consistent exercising days only a couple of years prior.
I did the stretches. They helped.
And I even took 10 minutes to “sit in silence” … getting back into my long-neglected meditation…
I haven’t been taking care of myself… That is clear.
I’m trying to, day by day, to keep up the stretches… and even the meditation.
I wrote a book on meditation, for gods sake. I used to practice 3 hours or more a day.
It’s time to get back to that…
We’ll see how it goes.
The good news – my headache stopped.
Pretty much in minutes after I completed my stretching routine.
I needed some pretty intensive stretching, so that routine went on for a good half an hour.
I stayed off the coffee for the next couple of days.
My headache has not returned (yet).
I’m aware of a few specific physical exertions that can trigger similar headaches. They’ve done so in the past. Sadly, putting my son on my shoulders and carrying him around for any length of time triggers the pain. Will I stop giving him shoulder rides? No. Sometimes the spiritual joy of play takes precedence over physical discomfort. Besides, I typically have a couple of hours as a window before the pain kicks in. If I can stay aware, I can intervene with the appropriate stretches before it becomes an issue.
I’m now almost a week into my morning stretches. I’ve added the coffee back in. I’m trying to keep aware of the level of tension in my shoulders, neck and back.
I’ve kept up my meditation, too. Just sitting. Breathing. And trying to not get caught up in the mental drama that is a constant in my head.
Wish me luck!