Have you ever had consecutive headaches for no real reason over a few days? Have you been woken up in the middle of the night by a headache? Everyone is asleep. You’re confused, wondering why the hell it’s happening to you. You try to remember what your mum says about headaches. You grope for your slippers and turn on the light. You feel very hot. The side of your head feels like it’s not yours. You want to scream. You hold the part that is aching and pray that this pain is taken far away from you. You drag yourself to the living room, secretly hoping someone wakes up and asks what’s the matter. No one wakes. You grab a glass of water that your dad left half-finished on the mantelpiece. You take it in one gulp. You can see more glasses on the dining table. You ignored those ones because you know exactly where the one on the mantelpiece is from and who drank from it. The people in this house though. You’re only five of you but there will always be more than five glasses on the table and in the sink. Honestly. Maybe that’s why your head is aching. Lol.
You fill the glass with water and head back to your bedroom. You take another sip. Place it next to your many hair products and lie down. No painkillers. You have this thing where you avoid Panadol until it takes too long. You try to lie on the side that is painless. You know you won’t sleep. The last thing you want to do is look at a screen. Maybe that’s why your head is aching. Seriously. The screens you look at all day.
You think random thoughts. How your friend asked why you have not seen a doctor since it happened last night and the other one before that too. Last night when you had just gotten into bed ready to read that psycho book which you can’t blog about since your girlfriends accuse you of spoiling books for them. And then you couldn’t. Because it started banging at the same spot. On a Friday night for crying out loud. Maybe you shouldn’t read psycho books. Maybe that’s why your head is aching. Like that alcoholic woman in the book. You never know.
Or maybe that matatu had everything to do with it on that other night. When you got on it at Corner and sat suspended on a space between two actual seats. And then some dude at the back who you never actually saw said out loud, “Na kweli Michuki alikufa!” You laugh. It’s going to be a long ride. Same dude says we are officially on a train. The lady kange keeps piling people in. By the time you’re on the periphery of Waiyaki Way, it’s dark. This lady sits next you, smelling of Omo, or whatever detergent people use on clothes that makes them reek for days. You open the window and direct all your nostrils in that direction. By the time you’re in Regen, your headache is full blown. Not to mention you stop at one of those shady petrol stations where the pump literally fills the tank in drops. So you sit there for ten minutes. Fellow passengers complaining, petrol reeking and an extra new drunk passenger next to you. That must be why your head is aching, surely.
Back to now, you somehow fall asleep without your knowledge, as always. You will wait and see if you have a fourth headache. You don’t wait for long because a day later, it happens. Right before 5 o’clock. At least it gave you time to work. It hits you like the sun is hitting you from the window. Let’s not forget that this same sun was nowhere to be seen when you stood in the rain at the bus stop in the morning. Maybe that’s why your head is aching. This unbelievable weather. This nonexistent El Nino.
You stare at your computer screen. You look around. Water will help. You walk to the couch, as if you think that will help, sitting there and try look at the screen again. Nope. You pour yourself a coffee with lots of sugar. Nada. Can’t even go down. Let’s stick with the water. You tell everyone your head is aching, just in case you walk to the ladies and collapse in there. You have a Skype call with someone in Nigeria. You call her but nada, bad Internet. Gotta love Naija. This wave of nausea hits you. You run to the washroom. You wash your face. You lock yourself in one loo and try to puke. Maybe everything will be alright after that. Nothing. You try to touch your tongue just where it disappears into the throat. You retch, but that’s it. Fine. You look up and decide you have to tell yourself you feel better. Go back to the conference room and try make that call. Maybe this is why you’re having that headache. Shut the computer down and go home. Now.
You walk out and suddenly, you actually feel better. All your colleagues think you’re stressed. But just to be sure, go have it checked out. At home, mum asks what’s happening. Are you thinking of your ex? Is everything okay at work? Did you have your teeth checked? Isn’t there that cavity that you were to have fixed a while back? Is it your eyes? Mum, I’m fine. Chill out.
You’re just from the doctor’s right now. Nurse said your heart rate was the only thing that was off. Faster. Must be that Uber ride you took for the first time for free. Got you a little excited. You’ve lost a kilo. Your physical exam is alright. Doctor asks if you’re keeping hydrated. If you’re stressed. What’s with everyone and stressed? Maybe that’s why you’re having these headaches man. Everyone being all up in your head. Lol. This very nice lab guy talks you through the needle, just in case you are afraid of it and takes your blood. Takes forever. The blood has refused. Says he didn’t put enough pressure. You have enough pressure in your life already. Don’t apologise, you tell him. Thanks, Valentine. Nice name, btw. You like him. He’s Luo. Luos are the best, making you talk like you always talk to strangers with ease like this.
Results are out. Your sugar’s okay. Your haemoglobin is a bit low. Your white blood cells too. Eat lots of iron laden foods, girl. Keep hydrated and for Pete’s sake, rest!