There are the “haves” and the “have nots” in this world, and since I have migraines, I am inevitably going to inspire jealousy in some, however discreet and gracious I am about my elite status. Look, I understand; everyone wants in. It’s human nature.
Friends who are not members of this exclusive club try to conceal their envy by appearing sympathetic—“privilege has its challenges,” blah, blah blah—as if that fools me. My husband makes me ice packs and tiptoes around just to feel a part of it all.
I mean, what could be more glamorous than a decades-long susceptibility to agonizing pain on one side of the head? What beats the experience of feeling savagely attacked by ordinary light and noise—or the dignity of alternating between moaning and vomiting? That is, enjoying all the pleasures of a hangover without having had to undergo the tedium of ingesting an alcoholic beverage?
But let me tell you, migraine is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Take Imitrex, for example. Lauded as a miracle drug when it first hit the market in 1991, this medicine, also called Sumatriptan, sometimes works for me for awhile. But the headache comes back, sure as cold symptoms post-Contac.
Until quite recently, when Imitrex went generic, each prescription cost me over $200 before my deductible was met, after which it went down to a trifling $81. This is for nine tablets (that’s right, nine), and for the record, drill and practice on square roots is not an approved migraine treatment. Indeed, it may be as unhelpful as getting gouged at the drug store. But I digress.
All the wannabes in my life positively drool over the high-gloss cardboard folder of cute little triangular pink pills. Presumably, GlaxoSmithKline wouldn’t want a handful of tablets rattling around in a bottle like so many pellets of, say, platinum.
Of course, you tend not to care about cost when you’re in the throes—when the alternative is to hit yourself in the head with a hammer, not for the usual reason (it feels good to stop), but because a good thump genuinely seems more appealing than the headache. Ice pack? Give me an ice pick.
Yet even the pharmaceutical execs are jealous. I mean, why else would they see to it that while under siege, we of the noble class must battle our way through to tablets that are individually wrapped and sealed to the standard required for a NASA space walk? Is the idea to drive the headache away by inducing homicidal fury? Or—if we’re fortunate enough to get the foil bubble opened but unfortunate enough to watch as the tablet flies across the room and under the refrigerator—a full-blown psychotic episode?
As the 1980s Pantene hair products commercial went, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.
Lisa Braver Moss has tried drugs, diet, biofeedback, acupuncture, homeopathy, self-blame, aging, raging, and humility.
Published in Piedmont Post, September 30, 2009