Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jiu Jitsu Submits Migraine!

Yesterday there was a war going on in my mind.

A sinus headache was pressing down on my back teeth. There was also a dull presence in the front of my skull. Not a pounding, but a just-enough-there-to-cause-discomfort throb—the steady reminder that a migraine could blast out at any minute.
It's important to get your Latin verbs right!
To battle this, I downed 600 milligrams of ibuprofen and went on with my day, just as I always do. I am thankful that, while I get hormonal migraine headaches, I usually manage to beat them into submission with ibuprofen before they send me to bed for three days or make me vomit all over the place. Shark Girl uses ibuprofen more than prophylactically. I can’t afford to let a migraine hit while I’m responsible for getting a roomful of twenty-something teens to learn their Latin verbs. So, Shark Girl admits to popping ibuprofen at the slightest hint that a migraine might pay a visit.

But I do try not to use ibuprofen too much. They say that, in the end, ibuprofen will betray you. After years of valued service, it will make your migraines come back more fiercely. I think they call it “rebound,” but it seems more like a pact with the devil—ibuprofen will give you relief today, but then you owe your soul to it tomorrow.
That's me on the left . . .
 The previous night I had gone to sleep with the migraine, hoping it would disappear in the morning. When I woke, that dull feeling was still there, promising me that, with a too-quick turn of the head, or a louder than usual scream from Youngest Child, or perhaps not enough food or the wrong kind of food, I would be relegated to a dark room for the rest of the day. So, I did what any good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner would do: I took the ibuprofen and went to class. 

I could feel all that sinus- and migraininess as I warmed up and drilled. When we stopped to spar, I contemplated, Should I take an ibuprofen booster? I keep a little bottle of it in my bag. In fact, I keep ibuprofen stashed everywhere—a little Ziploc pack in my coat pocket, a refillable bottle in my work bag, some in every purse. People at work know that if they need some of the good stuff, I can hook them up.

No, I decided. No more ibuprofen. The impending migraine did not seem bad enough or imminent enough to test 800mg, a threshold I’ve never crossed (I think). I crossed 600 after giving birth. They gave me a refillable scrip for these giant 600mg horse pills that conquered any pain I could imagine, and I loved it, and I loved that hospital in Boston for it. When I gave birth a second time, my new hospital tossed me a small bottle of Motrin 200mg. each. “What the hell is this?” I screamed at the top of my lungs in my beautiful, new birthing room to no one who would hear or care. “A train just ran through my vagina and you are giving me OTC ibuprofen?” That’s when I remembered that 200 x 3 = 600. Hooray for math. It really does come in handy.

Back to yesterday. Having decided on no more drugs, I put in my mouth guard, returned to the mat, and sparred. [Insert great video or dramatization or narration of Shark Girl totally kicking ass for about thirty minutes. Oh, hell, just find something cool on Youtube.]

When I walked off the mat and got ready to leave, guess what? No pain. I felt great! No headache or threat of headache. I smiled and skipped out of my dojo. Jiu Jitsu had given my migraine the smack down. I entered my home ready to embrace my perfect nuclear family. Life is really good. I heard the sweet sounds of my lovely children. Sigh. Kids are the best, aren’t they?

I’m playing with it!”
“No, I’m playing with it!”
“Don’t hit me!”
“I didn’t do anything!”
“Yes, you did.”
 And then, no, please God, no . . .

. . . the scream. That first-grade, piercing screech. It had a direct line to my frontal lobe. I placed my cool palms over my eyelids for relief. And ran for more ibuprofen.


  1. You're lucky it wasn't choke day. I find that if I go to class with a minor headache, being choked eighty times in 20 min will upgrade it quite a bit.

  2. So true, Savage.
    Although chokes are my favorite (read: only sub I can remotely perform), I hate choke days on a regular basis. I find that no matter how quickly I tap, after a bunch of reps I can barely stand up. I wonder if that's another beauty of old age--like not being able to go on spinny rides. : )

  3. My aunt gets migraines, too. She took her meds the other day and went upstairs for a nap. When she woke up, my uncle and cousin had bought her a dog.

    She swears she's never going down for a migraine nap again.

    1. That is too funny! Talk about yer migraine triggers. . . .


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