Migraine – You fucker

I’m going to detail one of my migraines for you. I’m in no way looking for sympathy, I’ve had them all my life and thankfully I only get them say, once every three or four months nowadays. There were times I would get one a fortnight. They’re absolutely awful and I appreciate people differ dramatically. I’m not trying to better anyone else or say I have things worse than them, this is what it’s like for me. If there’s anything I’d like people to take away from this, it’s this.

A migraine is not a headache. It’s not something you can man up to. You cannot just work through it. It is a debilitating condition that completely destroys your function to operate. Women are affected by migraines far more than men, 16% of women can expect to receive migraines, men only 5% (I’m a man). Please take this point on board.

Everyone is different. If we get a migraine the trigger is often different too. For me, it’s light. The trigger is always a change from dark to light, I’ll be walking down a corridor, there will be a flicker of light as I enter a brighter area. Bingo. We’re on.

I know it’s starting because my vision will blur. I can look at things and see them but the detail has gone. This is liveable but it’s essentially a warning sign. It’s telling me to start closing things down, I need to get home. I can stay in this state for up to one hour. I can’t read during this period or use a computer (these are both major aspects of my job).

The next stage then starts. this is a horrible part of the process. I will get a flickering at the outer edges of my vision. This is the sign that I am in for a shitty time and is absolutely the key indicator that I need to find a safe place. My vision will clear up but I will see coloured waves of light on the edge or one or both eyes. One eye usually means things will be worse. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m not on my way home at this point, I’m in serious trouble. I have started throwing up on my bike on the way home before now. Not fun.

OK, so I’m on my way home. Vision flickering. If I’m on my bike I have an hours journey. If I’ve been slow to react then driving may be a problem and I may consider stopping and calling for help (it’s happened a few times), if I’m cycling I’ll muddle along. But lets forget anecdotal stuff, if we assume I’m home for THE DEATH STAGE then we’ll get on just fine.

Right, I’m home. What I need to do now is prepare. I’ll mutter at anyone who is home what is happening, they’ve seen this many times. Anything that needs cancelling will happen, they get it. I drink a load of water, say 3-4 pints, I take too many Ibuprofen. Time to hole up. I head upstairs, put a bucket by the bed, put a pint glass of water by the bed. By this time my vision has grown dark. I can certainly still see things, but that is coming to an end. I grab a towel and soak it, curtains closed, get into bed. Here we go.

My vision will slowly fail. It’s like night falling only faster. It will cumulate in shadows and blobs of light. Now the pain starts. With the pain comes nausea, with nausea comes vomit. The pain is centred around the base of my skull but now it spreads. It spreads to my forehead and my neck and thence down my spine. If I’m going to throw up it will be now as things really begin. Luckily this need ends quickly, errm maybe. The pain spreads down my spine, explodes in my middle back. Now it’s time to shutdown. If I’ve not got myself in bed with a cold, wet towel over my face then tough, because it’s all over now.

A nuclear bomb, in my chest. With lines of communication into my head, bollocks and fingertips. It burns up from the inside, it destroys everything it touches. It is all-encompassing…

Jon, out…

Wake up…. 8 hours later….

Imagine you’ve met Chuck Norris. Imagine Chuck was in a particularly vindictive mood and had just been on the lash immediately after a new martial arts technique course designed to inflict the most pain possible on a person without killing them and then he met you and took a dislike to you and beat you up. Now you know how I feel.

It is like you’ve been beaten up by someone who is really up for beating you up. And who really like giving punches to the body. And the head. And the arse. And everything else. Waking up from a migraine is like being born again, through a colander and then a sieve, and then a punching machine…and a kicking machine…. and one of those machines they use to de-lung cows.

This is what it’s like waking up after a migraine. It’s impossible to do anything during the migraine, it’s extremely difficult to do anything for 5-6 hours after waking up from a migraine. It’s not a headache, people don’t just get them, they either have the condition or they don’t and almost a fifth of women get them.

Got it?

It is not a headache.

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Drivers – Their own worst enemy?

To answer this question we must look to see what drivers complain about the most. What’s the biggest issue that drivers have to deal with?

If you’re orientated with social media (and if you’re not, why are you reading this?), then you’ll instantly know that drivers complain most about cyclists which as a driver and a cyclist has always struck me as very odd but I suppose we should try and answer that one. It’s actually a fairly difficult question to answer. The reality is that cyclists don’t actually cause motorists much bother (unless  of course they annoyingly get themselves jammed under their wheels) and the complaints are clearly disproportionate to the amount of actual pain cyclists do cause to motorists so on that score I’m guessing that the complaints come from drivers who spend far too much time looking out for non-drivers doing things they don’t think they should be. You know, when they should be looking where they’re going and everything. Drivers complaints about cyclists seem to have a general theme and can mostly be aligned with the following:

  1. That cyclist/those cyclists are holding me up.
  2. That cyclists/those cyclists aren’t obeying the road traffic laws
  3. That cyclist/those cyclists don’t have to pay the things that I do to drive my vehicle

I defy even the most tongue-gnashingly rabid driver to produce a real example of where their journey was delayed by more than a few minutes by any number of cyclists. Any delay from the cyclists is almost certainly offset by the delays incurred by other drivers proved by the cyclists all catching up with the drivers at the next set of lights. For a single cyclist to hold up a driver for any length of time is unheard of, what is more likely on a day to day basis is that heavy traffic is tolerated until a cyclist is seen who is then attributed to causing it all.

Perhaps if drivers spent more time looking where they’re going instead of what other people are getting up to, they’d have less to complain about.

So yes, drivers are their own worst enemy here.

Traffic laws are an interesting subject since so many complaining drivers seem to lack the basic rudimentary understanding of them and certainly the fixed penalty statistics give us clear evidence that a great many drivers feel the laws are not for them. If we stick to the actual ones that are laws (as opposed to riding double file, not using the cycle lane and any other from a myriad of invented rules) then I’d not condone the most common ones such as jumping red lights and riding on the pavement but are they causing the drivers any problems? Not really, in fact since these activities generally stop the cyclists getting in the way of drivers, I can only imagine that drivers are going out of their way to look for people breaking the rules so they can get angry about it.

Drivers are their own worst enemy there.

And then there’s the payment stuff. As anyone who has been a cyclist for more than five minutes can tell you, drivers are awfully keen to point out how financially down-trodden they are. They have these crippling costs to pay such as the price of the car, the mind-bogglingly expensive VED (drivers will use the phrase ‘Road Tax’), insurance, petrol, fines for when they break the law. I’m not even going to bother to go into detail on any of these things, anyone using them as arguments should be laughed out of the room. If you don’t like them, you have many other options to owning a car, or even owning the car you have. If drivers didn’t cause all sorts of damage with their cars then maybe insurance, tax and fuel prices wouldn’t be so high. And don’t break the law.

Drivers are their own worst enemy there.

Drivers of course don’t like lots of other things other than cyclists. I expect the biggest complaint after all those horrible people on bikes, and the terrible, pocket-crippling costs of voluntarily owning and operating a motor vehicle, is congestion. I can answer that one with a simple picture.

Yup, their own worst enemy.

A top ten driver complaint just has to be other drivers. They’re in the way, they can’t drive, they’re going too slow, they’re going too fast. It seems that so many drivers perambulate in irony city that they perhaps miss the obvious.

Drivers? Their own worst enemy.

I could go on and on but the simple fact is that drivers (being people), generally do an awful lot of complaining about the terrible state of their world. They have to endure lots of financial hardships, they have to endure lots of other people, some of whom are also driving, they have to put up with huge queues of other drivers and constantly keep their eyes peeled for other people who are undertaking infractions, both real and perceived. And you know what? It’s your own fucking fault. If you don’t like it, you have a choice. It’s a choice many other people opt out of because they simply don’t want to piss about with owning and operating a vehicle. And if you don’t like it but carry on doing it? Well, you’re your own worst enemy.

I wrote this article after seeing a quick succession of a number of people claiming cyclists were their own worst enemy.

First off we saw Sir John Armitt tell us during the TfL board meeting to discuss cycle superhighways. The beautiful irony in his comment is not that he said it at precisely the same time one of his drivers was setting about injuring a cyclist at Marble Arch (he was asking for it!), but that even if his insane statement were true, segregated cycle lanes would solve the problem.

Then there was this complete bell end who goes on to tell us that cyclists deserve to die. 

Alastair Dalton who appears to claim he’s some kind of journalist wrote this clickbait article for the The Scotsman.