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Sunday, 8 May 2011


 I realised a few years ago that I seem genetically programmed to develop a new - albeit minor - physical problem every few years. At the age of nine I was diagnosed as partially asthmatic, at 12 I had my first migraine, at 16 I became short sighted, at 18 depressed and at 21 I got hay fever. Now on the scale of human suffering in the world these are, quite clearly, minor problems. I have not been repeatedly beaten against my will, forced in to slavery, used for hideous genetic experiments or been surgically operated on by a man possessed by the Devil who had gouged his own eyes out and then decided to cut open my rib-cage and hang my skin by steel wires like the guy who spoke Latin in Event Horizon (a bloody good film if I recall). Nevertheless, not having much suffering to draw upon for inspiration other than these minor problems, I feel beholden to have good bitch about them once in a while, hence the topic of today’s title.

  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the migraine (you lucky, lucky bastards!) people have varying symptoms, lasting for varying lengths of time. In my particular case the initial sign of a migraine is a sudden partial loss of vision, which makes it very hard to see all of somebody’s face, or read anything at all. This area of partial blindness then proceeds to wander all across my field of vision, treading wherever it wishes with lots of flashing lights, before buggering off and leaving me with raging headaches, an aversion to light and loud noise, weakness, nausea (which can often lead to vomiting) and in one case numbness down the length of my left arm. These will usually last me anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours, leaving noticeable residual effects for about twenty-four hours. 

  To offer an example of how a migraine might affect your vision here is a picture of Scarlett Johansson’s face:
    Beautiful, isn’t it? Who would not want to look at it? ; Its subtle curves, the perfect proportions in harmony with the golden ratio.... But now look at the same image through migraine vision:

  Alternatively you can stand up quickly after you've sat still for a few hours and probably experience something closer to the truth. I guess I just wanted an excuse to look at Scarlett Johansson’s face. It’s an awesome face.

  But I digress.

  Usually the only cure for such a malady is to lie down in a darkened room and drink water. As lame as this may sound however, this has allowed me to listen to many of the dramatised works of Charles Dickens and a lot of Melvin Bragg’s In Our Time (as music just tends to make the headaches worse) providing me with knowledge of the literary history of good and evil and the evolution of the whale. Another advantage is the obvious excuse it provides you for not having to do anything useful, as physical exertion almost always makes you sick. In this hectic day and age, where we are forever pressed to work ourselves to the bone before burning off stress by drinking ourselves in to a coma every weekend, migraines can be argued to be something of a circuit breaker or surge protector, as excessive living (including excessive laziness, stress and alcohol) forever triggers them.

  However, the main disadvantage is that excessive living forever triggers them. Indeed if I even eat too much cheese, chocolate, ice cream, drink too much coffee, or enjoy a night at a house party playing ring of fire, there is a good chance that I will get one the next day. The only real preventative seems to be to lead a healthy life, keeping your body hydrated, eating well, sleeping neither too much nor too little and not drinking to excess... which I suppose is also an advantage. Damn it. I've just disproven my own argument.

  By having reached something of a dichotomy I fear I can go no further. Suffice to say that I consider them a pain in the ass, but they seem to offer some sort of measuring stick for telling me when I need to slow down or speed up. As a result I feel I can’t damn them to Hades, as was my intention. Therefore, on the universal percentage rating, my migraines get 50%. Scarlett Johansson's face naturally gets 100%. 

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