“It hurts!” BoyGenius is holding his head, crying, sitting in front of the toilet, and between sobs he’s wailing “it hurts.” In his wretched, pitiful little voice I hear myself at the same age and I feel as helpless as my mother must have felt back then.
BoyGenius went up to bed at 9pm and awakes around 12:30am, the night leading up to Mothers’ Day, with a migraine. I can’t actually do anything to help him. Oh, I try. I give him a gravol and an ibuprofen even though I know it’s too late for them to help. I give him a cold washcloth and do most of the holding of it as it rests on his forehead. I tie his hair back into a loose ponytail so it doesn’t get covered in the vomit that will inevitably come. I murmur “I know, baby, I know,” as if hearing that between his own “it hurts” will be of some comfort.
And it’s true. I know. I have migraines. They started when I was about 7 or 8. BoyGenius’ started when he was 6 or 7. He got them from me. I got them from my dad. Dad got them from his mother. I don’t know which of her parents my grandmother got them from. My brothers were mostly spared, SkinnyGuy not really having any and BlueEyes suffering only once or twice. My cousins from my dad’s side got off scott-free, but their kids managed to keep the generational hand-me-down going.
But I digress. I manage to convince my little bundle of misery that we should move to the bed; it’ll be much more comfortable than the bathroom floor and I’ll have a bucket handy for the vomit that will inevitably come. I try to get him to lay still but he keeps twisting back and forth holding his head tight and sobbing. “It hurts. Oh. Owwwww. It hurts.” At one point he’s knocking on his head with his knuckles and I’m almost ready to take him to the ER. Then the inevitable happens. It comes in waves, with head pounding the whole time, 5 minute breaks in between, head still pounding for the most part. About half an hour into it the ibuprofen comes up, still a perfect little caplet form. I try to give him the benefit of my 40 years of experience with this beast and get some ginger ale into him. He doesn’t yet understand that the throwing up doesn’t stop just because your stomach’s empty. Doesn’t yet know that ginger ale coming up and out tastes infinitely better than bile. He also doesn’t know that those little breaks in the throwing up are a particularly cruel joke. You just about manage to doze off. There seems to be a lull in the pounding, even. Maybe it’s over. You open your eyes or move a toe or just blink. BLAM! Jackhammer starts and you better sit up quick ’cause here it comes again.
At about 1:15am he bolts up and heads to the bathroom. I take off after him and see that he’s sitting on the toilet. I put the bucket beside him and rewet the facecloth so it’s nice and cold. I notice he’s falling asleep, trying to rest his head against the seat lid behind him. He drifts off for a few seconds but that heavy-head-jerk (you know the one) wakes him back up. He takes the washcloth and wedges it between the base of his skull and toilet seat lid as a kind of pillow and catches a few winks. I ask every once in awhile if he’s ready to go back to bed but he keeps saying no. I talk him into believing he’s done on the toilet and direct him back to the bedroom. The bucket is still handy but I know that if he’s been able to get off the bed and into the bathroom and back to bed without having to throw up then that part’s over.
His little body is exhausted. He says his head still hurts but I can tell that even that is subsiding. He’s no longer rocking back and forth in agony. He’s able to close his eyes peacefully, no longer squeezing them shut against the pain. For this I am thankful. I breathe a little easier. I have been through this all before, from both sides, and I know that I will be here again. I know that I will feel just as helpless the next time a migraine makes itself at home in my house; less so if it’s my turn.
As I sit beside BoyGenius in the wee early hours of Mothers’ Day, watching over him, waiting to hear deep, even breaths replace the ragged, raspy ones from earlier I can’t help but think of Sheila and Kate, two moms whose blogs I read/follow, who have known much greater anguish than what I have gone through tonight. I don’t know them personally, face to face, but I know their stories. I send love and strength out through the universe to both of them.
It’s Mothers’ Day. BoyGenius gets up at about 7:30am. He tells me he’s fine, heads downstairs and lets me sleep. Life is good. I am thankful. Again. And again.