Michele Bachmann has a migraine. In fact, NBC last night flashed a “Breaking News” box on its screen and went to the story that Congresswoman Bachmann, R-Minn., suffers from killer migraines — rattlesnake like-debilitating, hospitalizing migraines.

No matter what your politics, be you an ice cold progressive liberal, blast furnace tea partier or straight haircut independent, you must sympathize with Mrs. Bachmann.

Migraines cross all party lines, even the Mexican-Arizona border. Gays and straights suffer migraines. I’m betting that even Osama bin Laden had his share.

I have had great experience with the malady since boyhood. I personally have never had a migraine. But, I’m talking about the women in my life.

Yes. This is the new title of my memoirs, “My Life With Migrainers.”

First, there was my mother. Mama suffered horribly from migraines. In her young womanhood no one really knew what they were. Maybe uptown where the money lived, and families who summered in Europe and had husbands and sons who were doctors, but in the old Irish neighborhoods, where all of one’s relatives were cops or firemen, they were just bad headaches.


In her world, she did not know that the word came from the Greek words “hemi,” meaning half, and “kranion,” meaning skull, as in “half my bloody skull is coming off.”

Mama would often be forced to the couch with a cold washcloth over her eyes. She spoke of tiny rainbows or little dark spots. She didn’t know those were called auras. She tried everything. She gave up tea, coffee for a bit, Coca-Cola, movies and her favorite holiday party drink, the ever popular gin rickey. When she had an attack, I used to give her head rubs.

Nothing worked.

Next in line was Sister Rosanna of the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. I remember Sister speaking of her bad headaches and sitting at her desk with her hands over her eyes. I thought she was praying. My brother Jug, who had her in the sixth grade, said they were terrible headaches.


Then there would be Rosemary De Branco, she of the one thousand and one pastel angora sweaters and simple strand of pearls. Rosemary, my mentor and instructor in the ways of senior high school amour, was famous for her curly blonde hair, snub nose and bright red Maureen O’Hara lipstick, and the stains it left on various shirt collars. Rosemary’s page in the senior annual claimed “Best Kisser.” A gross understatement.


Rosemary had, what I later learned, were migraines. At first I thought these episodes were excuses, that I was growing tiresome. Two nights come to mind, one at Ray’s drive-in when she suddenly had to throw up, then another when she just crashed in the middle of a dance. They came on like summer rain out over the river. She had to go and sit in the car and hold a cold Pepsi-Cola to her head. Her best friend told me that Rosemary had migraines.

All of which brings me to she who eats the food I put on the table. She has had them since high school. She inherited them from her father. When they hit her, like a hockey puck dropped on her head from an overpass, she goes down like one of Ali’s opponents.

Luckily, she has great personal strength. She can teach all day, work at her desk, go out to dinner and multi-task all evening, even while enduring the pain. That is a mild migraine. But when they come like King Kong in the movies breaking out of the big gate, stomping on African extras, she goes down. She takes to her bed, pulls the covers over her eyes and sleeps.

When we discussed this lately we both came to the same revelation at once. Perhaps it’s me.

OMG. Do I, with the exception of Michele Bachmann, whom I have never met, give people migraines? Am I the Typhoid Mary of migraines? Is Michele’s husband the root of her problem?

I should text her. It’s worth exploring.

J.P. Device is a Waterville writer.

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