#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 72 and 73

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 72 to 73

Day 72 to 73

My eyes glaze over the screen for a moment, the words on my phone screen a blur of black lines. My headache is back. I close my eyes and tilt my head backwards. I focus on what I feel.

On the right side of my face, from my eye to my lower jaw I can feel the warm dull ache brought on by my hormones. I imagine a nerve running through my cheek, connecting the top and bottom part of my face. It throbs gently, continually. It feels warms even though the temperature on either side of my head is the same to the touch.

I open my eyes slowly and bring my attention back to my phone, my head tilting forward. I read a couple of lines but quickly lose focus. I stretch my eyes as wide open as they will go but it does not stop my eyelids from dropping.

I move from the chair to the sofa and lay there, eyes closed for a moment. This is not getting better, I think. I would like to fall asleep but my brain pushes against it and I remain stubbornly awake.

I get back on the chair and begin scanning recently developed film. The process is easy, repetitive and doesn’t require too much effort from my mind. One image after another, the scanner purring by my side, I begin to forget the pain in my face. I file and archive the negatives and digital copies before heading downstairs. My partner is sitting on the sofa, reading.

‘I’m tired,’ I say as I fall by her side. ‘I can’t seem to stop being tired.’

My partner looks at me concerned. ‘You should go to the GP,’ she says. ‘It’s been a few days already.’

‘Yeah,’ I mutter. I know she is right. The pain and tiredness is familiar but it normally disappears quickly enough. This time it clings to me like a weight I have to carry with me everywhere I go. Each movement becomes a battle to wage against the air filled space around me, each thought a process of finding a way out of fog.

I fall asleep for a few minutes on her lap before we cook dinner and head to bed.

I feel no better the following morning. The day repeats itself in a similar pattern. Activities change. I work on Queer Out Here, I try to read some online articles, but mostly I gaze aimlessly at a screen or a book.

By five in the afternoon, I give up. I log onto my GP’s website and use the ‘Ask Your GP’ online service. I do not want to book an appointment and walk in a doctor’s office at the moment.

The form takes me to the NHS website. There I find out about tension headaches. The symptoms are eerily familiar.

It may feel like a constant ache that affects both sides of the head. You may also feel the neck muscles tighten and a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. ‘Yes,’ I think. ‘It does that.’ The list of symptoms is familiar too. Stress, anxiety… I have been feeling better but this process of letting go of all my fears and anxiety has been stressful in its own way, demanding that I push further, that I break barriers and carry through, vulnerable and filled with doubts.

I remain unconvinced that this is only a tension headache. I am convinced part of it is due to my hormones but of all the GPs I have ever spoken with, only one ever took my concerns seriously, only one spoke with me about hormones and didn’t suggest I take the pill as the only option. I have little faith this GP will want to discuss my monthly headaches. I try anyway. I leave the NHS website and go back to the form on my GP’s website. I tick ‘Call me’ as my preferred option and close the laptop. It is too late for them to call me now but with some luck I’ll get a phone call tomorrow morning.

For now, I retreat downstairs and curl up on the sofa by my partner’s side, letting the music streaming from the radio take my mind off the ache and tiredness that are embracing me.

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