I never (or hardly ever) got migraines when I was a kid. I know people have different experiences with them, but my definition of a migraine is a headache accompanied by (or made worse by) an aversion to light, sound, or smells, and occasionally, nausea.
This particular migraine treated me to half a day of aversion to light and sound, and another whole day of aversion to smells, with nausea the whole time, holding hands with a headache that even Excedrin Migraine couldn’t shift.
When I was a kid, I just had regular headaches. My head hurt, and sometimes it hurt a lot, and sometimes it only hurt a little. I don’t remember that the doctor ever did an allergy test, but I do know that he prescribed ibuprofen. Sometimes the headache went away after taking it, but more often, it didn’t.
The reason we never chased down the cause of these daily headaches was that we moved at the end of the school year, and immediately, my headaches ceased. I got them occasionally like any other normal person instead of almost every day of the week. My dad joked that I was tying my hair up too tight. But I have another theory.
The community that we lived in was small enough to have a consolidated school. That means that kids from both towns are put into the same classes in order to save space and money. After all, it’s cheaper to pay one third grade teacher than two, right? When I was there, they were still paying two third grade teachers, because until sixth grade, a child attended school in their own town. After that, students from both towns were squished together in the same classes. Senior high school students got their learn on in the same building that I was taught my multiplication tables, but junior highers attended school in Elmwood, the neighboring town. And I’m not sure why, but... the school in Elmwood smells funny.
Some people love the smell of old books. You know the smell I’m talking about: the slightly moldy but (for some) delightful scent of history. And I agree that it is a nice smell, but it gives me a headache.
What a ridiculous affliction for a historian. I looked stupid while researching for my senior paper in college: wrapping a scarf around my face before diving into the stacks at the library to get the right volume of The Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. I got a strange glance from a curator while volunteering to cataloge items in the basement of the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, and had to explain the mask that I was wearing over my nose and mouth.
When I was in seventh grade, I stayed over at my friend Hannah’s house in Murdock and rode the bus to school with her the next morning, for a visit to my old school while my new school in Lincoln had a day off for parent-teacher conferences. While hanging out with a few old friends in a study hall in Mrs. Roth’s classroom, I heard my favorite teacher Miss Haefle say to my former science teacher, “Did you know Tricia is here today?” “I saw her,” Mrs. Roth responded, “how is she?” To which Miss Haefle replied, “she has a headache.”
The smell of old books isn’t the reason for all of my headaches, but I think it was a factor in most, if not all, of the headaches I had while attending school in a building that reeked of it.
Thank goodness for the internet, which I can use to do historical research without having to deal with my body’s rejection of my chosen career. It’s not a substitute for holding a first printing of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs in my hands, but it’s not like I can do that on a random Tuesday, anyway. So thanks, internet, for existing so that I can be a historian without having to scarf ibuprofen.
Except on the days when the light from the computer's screen bothers my migraine.