Do you suffer from migraines as millions of people around the world do each day? Have you ever had one that you thought would land you in jail? As odd as that may sound, one day this seemed to be a very real possibility for me. You may be thinking “that’s impossible!” So, let me tell you my experience of the worst migraine that I have ever endured.
In September 2006 I was summoned for the first time for jury duty. I arrived at our local courthouse on the specified day, with time to spare. After checking in I went into the courtroom, took a seat and waited for the judge to arrive. By the time he took the bench the courtroom was overflowing with potential jurors. As I sat and listened he gave us all the information we needed about serving on the jury. He then proceeded to explain the difference between serving on the jury and the Grand Jury Duty. The bailiff then moved to the front of the courtroom and started picking names for the Grand Jury (from a stack of cards with the names of everyone that showed up that day). My name was the 10th to be called. Once there were 13 of us standing in front of the judge we were asked if we had any legitimate reason that we could not serve. Of course, I had no reason not to. We were then given our instructions and the dates we were to report for Grand Jury duty, then we were sworn in. The Grand Jury was not to convene until January 2007. In the meantime I had to call in on specified days to see if I had to show up for regular jury duty.
January 2007 arrives, as well as the day I am to sit on the Grand Jury. Upon awaking that morning, before I even opened my eyes, I knew it was very bad. My brain felt like it was ten times too big now and trying to split my skull. The pain was excruciating, to say the least. “Oh no, this cannot be happening today!” I thought. Just that single thought sent even more pain waves through my brain, not to mention the nausea. I slowly opened my eyes and my vision was extremely blurry. Stumbling out of bed I practically crawled the 6 feet from my bed to the toilet before the violent vomiting started, which makes the pain unbelievably worse. When that finally subsided all I could do was lay down on the bathroom floor. My husband heard it all and came to ask if I was alright, I tried to say “no” but it came out a slurred mess and he knew exactly what was going on. My speech was completely off, I sounded drunk even to myself. He left the room and returned with a Goody’s Headache Powder. I did not have any of my migraine medication on hand, all I had was Tylenol and that’s like eating candy in this situation. I tried to sit up and take it. It was a good thing that I was still close to the toilet. Eventually I was able to swallow it, but it came right back up. Every move I made, every breath I took and every thought I had, sent new waves of pain and nausea. It truly felt like my brain was exploding. By now my husband was getting extremely concerned and wanted to take me to the emergency room. I refused him. He already had his hands full getting our children ready and taking them to school, they were already late because of all of this and so was he.
I just knew I had to get past this and report to the Grand Jury. Already having been sworn in, I was fully convinced and terrified that I would go to jail for contempt of court, if I did not show up. I’ve never been in trouble with the law, not even a speeding ticket. So, I made myself get up off the floor and try to make it to the shower, hoping it would make me feel better. Just the simple task of getting undressed sent more pain waves through my ‘oversized’ brain, me back to the toilet and then back to the floor. Finally, I managed to get off the floor and into the shower. Barely getting myself washed before another wave of vomiting hit me and then of course back to the floor. Honestly, I just couldn’t make it any further and the floor was cool, which was a little soothing. It took another few minutes before I could get up and dry myself, then back to the toilet. By now I had nothing left in my stomach, so I was dry heaving and then back to the floor. After many attempts, with this being the outcome every time I moved, I was able to dress myself. I actually applied my makeup lying in the floor while holding a mirror above me and also tried to do my hair that way. Needless to say, that didn’t work out very well. By the time I was finished I looked like a clown, but was still determined to make it. Getting back on my feet, I made my way to the kitchen. That much movement sent me to the floor and dry heaving yet again. Still yet every movement, breath and thought sent more pain waves.
At this point my husband was trying to make me think rationally. How was I supposed to drive like this? How could I possibly sit all day in a room full of people, noise and fluorescent lights? I had to admit he had some valid points. If I couldn’t walk five feet without stumbling, having to lie down, dry heaving and sounding like I was completely drunk, how in the world could I do this? Finally admitting that there was no way that I could, I decided to call the courthouse. The lady I spoke with had a hard time understanding me, but I very slowly tried to explain what was going on and was told “we have an alternate; we should be alright without you. But, if we need you, we will call you back within 30 minutes.”
My husband seeming very relieved that I was not going, helped me off the floor, then to the bed to lie down, put the phone beside me and left to take our children to school. Thirty minutes later the phone rang, it was the courthouse asking why I was not there. I explained the situation again the best that I could, still sounding totally drunk and that I had already spoken with someone about it. This lady proceeded to tell me that she would have to speak with the judge about it and call me back if he insisted that I be there. My reply to her was, “If I have to be there you will have to send either an ambulance or police officer and they will probably have to take me to the hospital first. I am not able to move without excruciating pain, dry heaving, very blurry vision and you can hear how I’m speaking. How do you expect me to drive?” She stated that she would explain to the judge but didn’t know what the response would be. So, I ever so slowly made my way to the couch by the front door. That way if they came after me I would be right there waiting. I spent the next hour wondering every time I heard a vehicle drive past my house if it was someone coming for me. They never did. I never heard anything else from them.
I endured this migraine for 2 days before finally waking up on the 3rd day headache free. Migraines always take a toll on my body, other than the obvious. Even after the pain is gone, depending the severity and how long it lasted, it could take up to 3 days or more to get my energy back and feel like a human again.
There have been many times in my life where a migraine has completely altered family plans, school functions with the children, hindered holiday celebrations and caused me to miss work. I am very grateful to have an understanding and supportive family to help me through these tough times. Needless to say, but I will, I am also very thankful that this particular migraine didn’t end with me in jail.