The day of the migraine, the year of the pandemic

migraine day

As you might already know, I’ve been presenting Covid-19 symptoms since last Saturday night, March 21st. It started with fever of 38.2 C, which kept coming back for over 24 hours, unlike any flu or cold I ever had as an adult. Then body aches followed. Yesterday I experienced what I now call the third stage of the disease in its development, and I also managed to write a poem I want to share. These two things were related. Let’s start with the first. 

(Images of my garden and my pots have to do with the poem – bear with me.)

My day began with a very bad piece of news – that I might not even be able to claim Job Seeker’s Allowance. The Department of Work and Pensions representative who called me for my phone interview were very nice. But they asked about the period from 2016 to 2018, on which my records indicate, they said, that I did not pay enough tax. I told them I was studying towards my MA degree in Online Journalism then and working part time or agency work. A few social care employers here in the West Midlands were not happy to offer me a full time position because I had university commitments. Now this might leave me without the last hope of any sort of money coming in so I can repay my MA degree loan while out of work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Quite ironic, isn’t it?

Stress, sinuses and the worst migraine of my life

Such news hit me like a punch in the face. After the phone interview, I felt very dizzy for a while, going to the bathroom upstairs and just moving around the house. I thought it was stress related. But my sinuses were not doing great either. The only tablets I had around to help relieve them were a mixture of paracetamol, caffeine and Phenylephrine Hydrochloride. I took two of these in the morning and also rinsed my sinuses with a saline solution later on.

At about lunch time this headache doubled up on the dizziness. Even after the rinse, I could feel my sinuses hurting whenever I stretched my cheeks or moved my head. I took two more of the paracetamol mixture pills, not realising that each of them had 25 mg of caffeine. Now I know that a cup of coffee has about 95 mg of it. Trouble is I cannot drink coffee any longer because it tends to trigger a migraine. It might make me laugh one day to remember how I stuffed myself with caffeine to fight a headache and gave myself a migraine instead.

I tried to focus on something pleasant – my colouring book. That kind of worked, taking my mind of the tormenting sinuses. I also wrote a poem which I did not give up on. But the headache just would not go away. Usually, two paracetamol tablets sort a migraine for me.

After eating my dinner, the pain intensified. It grew from drilling through my cheek bones and forehead to debilitating to unbearable. I never in my whole life experienced anything like it before. Sniffing an Olbas stick felt like a knife cutting through my face.

Crippled by the pain, confused and scared, unable to focus and to think, I reached a stage where I thought the infection spread to my brain and I was going to die. My partner rescued me at this point, finding the last Actifed in the house, which I took with two tablets of paracetamol only. In about an hour I managed to take a nap and I woke up as if resurrected from death.

How my strange sinuses might have saved me from coronavirus 

Bad sinuses are nothing new to me. I have experienced difficulties with them for at least ten years now, as they give me trouble regularly during the colder seasons. Last year I was seen by a specialist who put a camera through to check what is happening there. The doctor concluded these cavities looked healthy, except for the fact they presented a slightly thicker lining than normal. But it wasn’t a reason for concern. They recommended I took antihistamines to control any reactions to allergens or to cold air.

I think my peculiar thick layer of lining might have kept the coronavirus at bay.

For most people who only get mild symptoms, the virus stops in the upper respiratory tract. It seems this happened to me. I coughed on Saturday and Sunday, and today very few coughs clearing my throat. I can no longer feel any discomfort in my chest or my throat, for that matter. But my sinuses took the blow. They still feel the most fragile that I have known them in my life as an adult, even now, one day after my migraine doom ended.

Still, I don’t want to even imagine what this virus would do to my lungs.

Right now, I could erect a monument to my suffering sinuses. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I want to share my first and only poem I’ve written while suffering from a migraine which made me rewrite certain words a few times as I could not get my hand to spell what was in my mind.


tomato pepper march 2020

break these walls 

an army of worries digs through my forehead
while the first pairs of butterflies are dancing
in the garden
my forgotten territory through months of pretence
pouring from elsewhere
weeds have crept through crevices I didn’t know existed
pot after pot lifts
timidly creeping stalks of hope
as winter’s indifference shatters under the surge
of noise
pigeons cooing on the roof wings flapping
a lawnmower humming its chant in the distance

pain conquers ground inside my skull
flag fluttering through irises
it’s a war camp
life gone awol through a long season of misplacement
or maybe just a drill
clearing the way for new seeds
when the world outside is shutting down under insidious threat
what we relied upon burbles weakness
what we embraced
fleeting glass towers reflections
flooded streams of deceit into our daily cups
we measure the depth of our fall
by everything we didn’t need
there is so much more we can lose

creeping fight through my bones
while fingers trace the future of tomato plants
in this year’s pots
we will return to a simpler life
vegetable rows
salad planters
jam jars
hearts pooling at each other’s feet

we will break these walls of voracity
this war camp they slowly built inside our brains
stomp these rows of poisoning seedlings
feeding fake humanity with fake goals

we can breathe without making profit
eat what we grow love what we live

tomatoes March 2020


  • Radu March 28, 2020 at 9:22 am Reply

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • CatalinaLGeorge March 28, 2020 at 7:12 pm Reply

      Thank you.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.