I am 9 years, 10, 11, 12 years old and school has just let out for the day. It could be Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. The bus comes in 45 minutes. I have the timing of the bus figured out. I can hear it before I can see it. If I start down the long sidewalk when I first hear the bus, I'll be at the bus stop by the time the bus arrives. After I hear the bus, it comes into site. The brakes squeak and it turns the corner and comes bumping over the railroad tracks and grinds to a stop at the end of the long sidewalk in front of my school. On a good day, I'm there waiting with the rest of the few kids who ride the city bus. We climb on and get out tickets punched and plop down into our seats. We're on our way home.
But on many days, I don't make the bus. I am "teacher's pet". That means I got to help with "special jobs" after school. Sometimes these jobs are fun - put stickers on student papers, color letters for a poster, plan a bulletin board. And sometimes, the job means "helping" my teacher feel better. He gets sad and too many days it is my job to make him happy. For him, this means sex. For me, it means torture. Through it, I listen for the bus. I pray that the bus driver will stop the bus and come help me. Please, somebody, help me. I am desperate.
If I hear the bus coming, hear the brakes squeal, hear it lumber over the tracks, hear it pass, and look out the window in time to see the rear of the bus disappear in a black cloud of diesel smoke, then I know that nobody will help me.
I am on the fire department in my town. This means that sometimes I respond to horrible vehicle accidents. When somebody is trapped inside their vehicle, I'm often the person who crawls into the wreckage around them, wedges myself into the back seat behind them and takes up the job of C-spine mobilization. This means I place a hand on each side of the person's head or neck and do my best to imobilize the spine while the other firefighters work to extricate the victim and provide medical care. When I'm in there, sometimes with their blood running down my face I'm so close, I talk to them. I put my face right up close to their ear. I tell them to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. That's all you need to do right now. Breathe with me. In. . . Out. . . In. . . Out. And I tell them what's happening. I tell them that the person who's touching your arm, he's a great EMT. He's going to start an IV so you can have some pain medicine. And that guy over hear next to your shoulder, he's the best person I know to help get somebody out of a car. He knows exactly what to do. It's going to be loud. You're going to hear popping sounds. The glass will break. Ok, close your eyes. That woman is putting a banket over your face to keep the glass from cutting you. See, there. Now we're both under the blanket. It's okay. All you have to do is breathe. In . . . Out . . . In . . . Out.
As I do this, I can often tell whether the person I'm with will live or die. I'm not highly medically trained. But something about the way that I feel them with my hands tells me. I'm usually right and I hate it.
I have had chronic near constant severe migraines for months. For years. My head has hurt since I don't know when. I can't remember the last time when my head did not hurt at all, when there was no burning searing pressure stabbing pain inside or around my skull. Yes, once in awhile, the pain is less. Sometimes it's just this dull constant pressure that won't go away. Those are the good days.
I've sought help from many many different professionals for the migraines. I've seen neurologists, taken medications, done yoga, exercises, changed my diet over and over again, done neuro feedback, psychotherapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and other things I don't even remember to try to make the headaches better. I've endured tests, MRI's, poking and prodding. I've answered question after question and tried drug after drug. Nothing has helped. And I am desperate.
Some days, the pain is so intense that I am afraid I'm dying. When that happens, I curl in my bed and breathe. And I crawl behind myself, in a tiny cramped crumpled space and I place my hands on each side of my head. I lean close to myself and I talk. All you have to do right now is to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. In . . . Out . . . In . . . Out. And, since I don't know what's happening, I make up a story. Like the people I help who are trapped inside the wreckage of their vehicle, I sometimes thing I can tell if I will live or die. Sometimes, crouched behind myself, hands on my neck, bent close, I feel that the patient will die. And this terrifies me.
I am 9 years old. And 10 and 11 and 12. And the bus doesn't stop. It turns the corner and disappears into its cloud of black smoke. I am desperate for help and nobody comes. I am 40 years old and I hurt so bad that all I can do is breathe, in and out, in and out. And the bus doesn't stop. It turns the corner and is gone. And I am left to choke on it's black smoke. Nobody can help. The migraine keeps on and on and on . . .
Almost Too Late
1 week ago