Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Phantom Headache

I spent the great majority of my life pissed off at one thing or another, but that was nothing compared to the moment when I found out why I was frowning all the time, why I could never seem to concentrate, and enjoy myself, even in some small way, when the same basic situations that always set me off left most other people perfectly fine.

As a boy, and how young exactly I didn't learn, and will never go back and research, I had some type of experimental surgery. I remember being in the hospital, under the bright surgical light. That much I could always recall with unqualified ease. Whenever I found the nerve to ask my parents about the experience, they would pretend that they didn't know what I was talking about. I learned, however, that the surgery that for a time left a sort of cap on the side of my head was performed to install a device that would regulate a recurring headache that had bothered me since birth. I must have been two, maybe three at the time, too young to remember the headaches, and too young, it seemed, to properly remember the surgery, only that it had occurred. It worked perfectly. I never felt a headache from that point forward. But its side-effects might be considered worse.

At the slightest provocation, perhaps as my brain struggled to reconcile the impulses it continually received but were blocked by the device, I would grow exceedingly irritable. It wasn't that I was affected intellectually. In that regard I would still consider myself somewhat gifted, if only in ways that are rarely proven useful. I could reason with the best of them. But I frequently found that reason compromised, so that I would try and explain to myself that whatever little problem I was experiencing, no matter how common and how little I wanted to be confronted with it, I really had no reason to become so rude to those around me, both those responsible and those who represented the behavior that made the offending actions possible. It was my brain trying to tell me that my head hurt, and because I couldn't feel it, I experienced it in another way.

I was angry for a moment, and then a day, and then I couldn't remember what it used to be like to trust the world. The surgery had done its job, but only too well. It was an unacceptable development, being unable to cope with the world, simply because my brain couldn't cope with itself, because of a device, because of headaches.

How bad could it have really been?

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