Friday, September 3, 2010

A migraine causes me to quote Mick Jagger

Last Sunday I woke up with the worst migraine of my life. We're talking horrible, debilitating throbbing throughout my entire head, as if I was being kicked in the brain with steel-toed boots every half-second. After about three minutes of this pain I actually thought to myself, "if someone handed me a sledgehammer right now, I'd gladly pull a Kathy Bates on my own (recently healed) foot to distract me from the pain in my head!"

Since lying down wasn't doing me any good I decided to sit up. Then the nausea hit, and I sat there for a moment pondering how easy labor was compared to this feeling. It took every bit of ragged strength I had to not rush to the bathroom -- I was out of town for a gig and staying overnight with a lovely family whom I had just met hours before. I didn't think that the sound of me yakking at 5:30 in the morning was the best way to say, "Thanks so much for your hospitality!"

So now I had established that lying down was bad and sitting up was worse. Next try, a stroll around the room. As I began pacing up and down, I thought longingly of my little blue magic "especially for migraine" pills sitting in the medicine chest at home. Inspired, I tiptoed out to the next-door bathroom to search for any kind of painkiller. Unfortunately, the strongest things in there were vanilla-scented guest lotion and peppermint mouthwash. Deflated, I trudged back into my room and resumed my pacing...counting the minutes until I would be able to leave and search for some kind of relief at the airport store.

Then, like a flash, it came to me: I remembered what I had just heard recently about putting what you want out into the universe and seeing if it will come to you. So, with every step I began to chant in my head, "Excedrin Migraine and a Coke. Excedrin Migraine and a Coke." (since I don't drink coffee and I know that caffeine is helpful for migraines this was my manna of choice at the moment) I even grabbed a piece of paper from my luggage and desperately scribbled "Excedrin Migraine and a Coke!"

I managed to gamely smile my way through breakfast, although the headache was not letting up one bit. On the way to the small six-gate airport I continued my silent mantra, flew through security and was finally face to face with the tiny little airport convenience store. I staggered across the threshold, mumbled to the clerk, "Medicine?" and he thankfully pointed me in the right direction. Almost immediately I saw a package of Extra-Strength Excedrin (not for migraines), grabbed it, then whirled around to the cooler to find my Coke.

As the late John Belushi would say, "No Coke, Pepsi." "Close enough," I muttered to myself. I seized the closest bottle, nearly knocking over a fellow traveler, threw both items on the counter, and with shaking hands (yes, my body was now shaking with the trauma of this headache)paid for my keys to freedom. Of course the vaccuum-sealed medicine packet took a few moments to open, but then I gratefully took my two little pills,gulped them down with my Pepsi, and sat very still, desperately praying that my prescribed remedy would kick in before takeoff. (Pressure from plane + pressure from my head = unbearable-ness.)

So I'm sitting there, and I start thinking about this whole "give it to the universe thing," and honestly, I started getting a little annoyed. So I took it up with the universe for a moment: "I said Excedrin Migraine and a Coke! And what do I get? Regular Excedrin and a Pepsi! What's up with that?!?!"

And that was when, through the fogginess of my poor hammered-upon head, I heard those ever-profound words of The Rolling Stones:

You can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

Hmmm.....interesting. And true too. And then I started thinking to myself, what if the little airport store had been closed? It was early Sunday morning after all, what if the guy running it chose to sleep in this morning and didn't open up? What if there hadn't been a store at all in the airport? What if there had been a store and all they had was Tylenol (which never seems to work on me)? There were so many what ifs that I began to realize how lucky I was that this particular store had what I needed to help me at this particular moment. No, it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but it was pretty darn close and it would thankfully serve the same purpose.

So that revelation got me many times do we let perfectly good things or times or situations be ruined because they don't turn out exactly the way we want them to. Like the camping trip that you spend months planning, and then it ends up raining for most of the time. A huge bummer? Yes. But, how about the fun time you end up having instead playing board games, having a pillow fight and figuring out how to make indoor S'mores?

Or the person you meet, and you have high expectations for them as a friend. Then they turn out to be not the person you thought they were. Disappointing? Yes. But you can still take them for who they are and maybe have a good time with them, then learn from this experience and keep searching for friends who will meet your expectations.

The list goes on and on...but the point is, even though we may not get exactly what we want exactly when we want it, what we end up with will most likely not only meet our needs, but it often is better than what we had originally hoped and planned for. We need to choose to be happy with what we get, and not focus on how imperfect it may be.

So, did my headache subside. Yes, eventually. And what else did I learn from this experience? That I am never traveling without my little blue pills again!

We can't always get what we want. If we try we'll find we get what we need. And sometimes we can be prepared ahead of time, to make sure we have what we need. Now there's a lesson I wish I hadn't had to suffer through a migraine to get!