It Had to Happen Sooner or Later: Therapy and Migraines do not Mix

I take pride in having my clients’ sessions run uninterrupted. While brazenly unprofessional, there are shrinks who will answer their telephone in the middle of an appointment or excuse themselves to get coffee without batting an eyelash. None of this occurs with me. In fact, in 8 years of private practice, I have yet to even need to step out to use the bathroom. Good planning with liquid consumption can’t be underscored enough.

I had mentioned previously that I experience migraines a few times per year. They are, in fact, brutal. Fortunately I had never struggled with one during the work day. Until now.

People report various symptoms when a migraine headache begins its slow, deliberate attack that makes you want to remove your own brain with a spoon. For me, what starts out as a simple tension headache turns into a pounding John Bonham slugfest in my cranium, followed by intense nausea and a need for darkness. But with a client sitting right across from me, anything other than digging an aspirin out of my pocket wasn’t about to happen.

As she talked about financial issues, I sensed beads of sweat beginning to accumulate on my forehead and I could actually feelmy face changing from its usual color of Rosacia Red to white. The client noticed immediately as well.

“Are you alright?”

“I…I’m not sure. Would you excuse me for a moment?” Damnit, my streak of 9,843 uninterrupted therapy sessions if fucking over!

I slowly rose from my chair and, being the sophisticated gentleman that I am, calmly walked out of the office, past the waiting area, and into the hallway. I then proceeded to sprint down the hall toward the bathroom.

I actually got a hand on the men’s room door when the first wave of vomit exploded up into my mouth. Streams of the hot, semi-liquid mess spewed onto the door and onto the sleeve of my shirt, with chunks of who-the-hell-knows what hitting the floor. I almost slipped on it as I bolted for the stall, where I proceeded to eliminate my entire insides for what was probably five minutes.

I got up, limbs shaking, and went over to the sink to wash my hands and face. I then noticed little pustules just under my eyelids, and when I pulled the skin down, the blood vessels had seemingly exploded. I had vomited so hard that I actually broke my eyes.

Looking like an uglier version of Freddie Kruger, I walked back into the office, took out a breath mint and, with forced dignity, simply said, “I’m sorry for the delay. Now where were we?”

“My God, you look fucking awful,” she said.

“Thank you. I mean, I’m sorry. I just, I had a very bad headache and I needed to use the bathroom.”

“You sure you can continue?” she asked.

Actually, the vomiting had helped tremendously, and what was once trumpets blaring in my brain was now simply a dull pulsating sensation.

“Absolutely,” I said, my sleeves rolled up more than usual to hide the vomit stain. If I were a smoker I could have put a pack of cigarettes up near my shoulder, claiming it was “1950’s Day” in the office.

I completed the session with her, followed by two others, all the while thinking about how I would have killed multiple children for a toothbrush.

When I finally left for the day I took stock: ruined shirt due to emesis, Defcon 1 headache that was downgraded to low tension, pale complexion, a streak shattered and two broken eyeballs. That, my friends, is what we in the business call “professionalism.”

Related Post: Delayed Gratification

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16 Responses to “It Had to Happen Sooner or Later: Therapy and Migraines do not Mix”

  1. Kevin says:

    I hope your eyes are better. Ugh.

  2. Paul says:

    Wow that’s nasty — you are a dedicated professional. It takes more than minor eyeball injuries to get you off the job!

  3. Beth says:

    Dude, I’m pretty sure that’s what they call a workaholic… oy

  4. Cody says:

    Meh, eyeballs are overrated.

  5. nikolina says:

    Impressive… I don’t know anyone that can work through a migraine

  6. BL1Y says:

    I hate when people throw around the word “migraine” to describe (a) just a garden variety bad headache, or (b) their inability to come up with a better excuse for getting out of something.

    That’s obviously not the case here, but I also hate when people throw around the partially digested contents on their stomach. Do you really have such little respect for the other people who use that restroom?

  7. Mel says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve literally laughed out loud when reading your post. Not that I like hearing about you puking on the bathroom door handle, but that you vomited so hard you broke your eyes tickled me to the core.

    Hey, good for you for coming back to continue your work day. Lesser shrinks than you would have cancelled the rest of the appointments and gone on that children-killing rampage.

  8. Marie says:

    Blimy, dude. Take a sick day.

  9. dawn says:

    oh my god!!! I just laughed out loud reading this. I mean, that is AWFUL, and I can’t believe you continued your session…but hysterical that you threw up on the door. And stayed the rest of the day with puke on your shirt, and not being able to brush your teeth!

  10. Natalie says:

    Who had to clean up the bathroom? I don’t feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for the poor schmuck cleaning up the contents of your stomach.

  11. Rob Dobrenski says:

    I don’t recall asking you to feel sorry for me, and I cleaned up the bathroom myself. Thanks for the hostility, though, we need more of that on the internet.

  12. 415 Style says:

    Ouch- sorry to hear that. You handled yourself very well considering the circumstances. Hope all is better.

  13. VWoodard says:

    Hope you’re feeling better – as a sufferer of migraines myself, I know how it is to try and muscle through a day when someone’s got your brain in a vise.

    Well-written story, totally hilarious despite your pain. 🙂

  14. Catherine says:

    That sucks! So sorry to hear it! I once threw up on the way to meet my boss, and I totally wimped out, told him what happened and left the meeting early!

  15. Shawn says:

    Dr. Rob,

    I have had migraines like that before- they’re truly awful! I know I cannot continue really anything after one strikes.

    Part of me admires your ability to tough it out, but then it makes me think how irrational your response was to the situation. This is not to be callous, but being human you deserve to excuse yourself. I think most people understand that when you are THAT physically sick, it is okay to take some time off. If you want to look at it from another angle; your clientele is not receiving a fully functional therapist.

  16. […] just localized on the right side of my brain, poking me in the frontal lobe. It was different than the migraine from a few weeks ago (i.e., no vomiting), but painful nonetheless. Tumor? […]