In Which I Discover the Joys of Valium

Know what will take the edge off of any morning commute? Valium. Who knew?

No, I haven’t turned into a pill-popping crazy lady who wanders the streets of Manhattan in a silk robe and sunglasses, a flask in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I had an MRI this morning because the neurologist I went to about the cluster headaches just wanted to play it really safe. She said there’s no reason to think anything is wrong, but might as well check. Cluster headaches, by the way, are like man-migraines. Unlike more traditional lady migraines, they don’t build up over time and intensify. No, they come over full-powered, strong and are over (in migraine terms) fairly quickly. Typical male behavior!

So the MRI. It’s not a fun machine for folks with a touch of claustrophobia. I’ve suffered through a few (one experiment, two for my back) without the benefit of drugs and it’s 15 to 20 minutes of paranoid freak out. Which is weird. You can see the light right there at the end of your feet. You realize you’re not in a pine box six feet under ground. But you can also see the wall of the machine three inches beyond the tip of your nose. And you realize that if you wanted to get out — you know, in case of fire or flood or a swarm of rabid rats — it’s not going to happen because you’re so tightly hemmed in you can’t even turn your shoulders. Your best bet would be to inchworm out once centimeter at a time (my inchworm is metric). And then your mind starts recalling MRI horror stories about the magnet being so powerful that it sucked an oxygen tank into the machine, crushing the poor bastard within.

So the neurologist, perhaps seeing a weakness in my character, offered to prescribe me one valium to take half an hour before going in the tube. Without me even asking. Of course I jumped at the chance. And it worked. No freaking out. Not even when they said I didn’t have to change and it crossed my mind that the zipper on my jeans might react with the magnets and burn my penis right off. Meh. Let them worry about that. Basically, I took a 20-minute nap while the machine went about its “bok-bok-bok-bok zrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ka-chunk ka-chunk” business.

The bonus was that when I got down to the 14th Street-Union Square platform to find a mad crush of people — I usually commute a little later and miss the majority of the misery — I didn’t much care. Indeed, when a full 4 Train came through, instead of waiting for another like I usually do, I shuffled right on in with the folks trying to cram their bodies through the door. I even got caught in the door as it was closing. I did not care. Once in, I just stood there staring into space, trying not to nod off while on my feet.

My kind of commuting, that.

5 thoughts on “In Which I Discover the Joys of Valium

  1. This guy going through the Helo Inst Training Unit, pretty much vanished from the base. Turns out that he got the cluster headaches. They say they are really bad around certain times of year, like longest and shortest days of the year. He will not be flying again, at least not in the front seat.

  2. They’re also supposedly brought on by alcohol and preserved meats (sausages, hot dogs, etc.) with lots of nitrates in them. Which, you know, is my whole damn diet.

    Then again, the neurologist said they basically have no idea what really causes them.

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