Why do doctor’s exam room always have this horrific lighting? I wonder if this lighting makes anyone feel better. At least if I vomit, they will know exactly where to clean up. I’m trying not to think about the pain dancing through my brain with force the way a flamenco dancer’s heel hits the wooden floor to create an echo that vibrates the entire room. I silently pray that my brain will not be permanently damaged by what is currently happening. I need my brain.
Instead, I work on calm. “Think of your favorite space.” My grandmother’s voice in my head. I think about the beach, the soft sand, the wonderful smell of ocean and sun lotion swirled together. An imaginary ice cube melting at the center of my forehead, slowly dripping down each temple. I exhale with the calming thoughts.
A gentle knock at the door and a bright white coat enters the small exam room. “How are you feeling today?” The young woman looks down at the brightly colored file folder as she asks me the question. “Oh, migraine, I’m sorry.” She states, kindly lowering her voice. “Wait, close your eyes, perhaps this will help.” The woman pushed a button and the screaming overhead lights are silenced. Only the muted light from the window remains, a cloudy rainy day. I feel myself exhale as I sit up on the table.
“Yes, migraine.” I state as I hear the blood pounding in my brain so loud that I struggle to hear the doctor’s questions. “Thank you so much for the lights, it really helps.” I say quietly.
“Of course. Tell me about your symptoms, what are your feeling?”
“Well, I have difficulty seeing, especially in daylight. I can’t drive. My daughter drove me here. I feel nauseas and hungry at the same time. All I want to do is sleep, but I can’t because of the pain.” I hear myself whining and just stop, but I could continue about the pain in my eyes, my neck, my hands, my legs, my ankles, and toes all screaming in pain.
“So, it shows here”, the doctor now sitting in front of a computer screen apparently reviewing my medical history. “The last time you were here you received sinusitis medication, back in March. Is your pain now like what you felt back in March?” She asks but I can tell that my answer doesn’t matter she already knows what prescription she is going to write.
Working to summon another memory of pain I think about the distinctions. “No in March it was clearly sinus. I had a stuffy nose, coughing and the headache was all in my eyes. Not anywhere near as painful as this. That was a five to six this is twelve to fifteen on the pain scale and yes I completely understand the scale goes up to ten.”
“Ok, safe to say, really, really bad.” The doctor states with a slightly smile at my sarcasm as she leans away from the computer screen to see my face. “Lay down for a moment. I will get something for you.”
Happy to follow those orders I laid back on the slippery and taught exam table wincing with the sound of the exam paper crunching loudly under my body. “Excuse me, Kathy”, the doctor asked quietly. She saw my eyes open as she again looked away from the computer screen. I just noticed that a year ago on August 2, you were also here due to migraine and you received sumatriptan, did that help? Should I fill a script for that again?”
The doctor moved out of the room as I closed my eyes again, returning to the sand and the melting ice cube on my forehead. I exhaled with slight frustration as the exam paper crinkled again under my fingers.
The doctor returned with 2 small pills and a bottle of cold water. I drank the water and the pills, saving a little bit of water to roll the bottle over my forehead.
“Lay down, I will be back shortly.” The doctor stated quietly as she left the room.
It felt as though she was gone for moment, but the doctor returned with my eighteen-year-old daughter entering the small room first an hour later.