The Headache

Carvell Wallace
5 min readFeb 1, 2023

Five days after the break-in I awoke with a small headache that soon became the worst headache I have ever had. By the next day, the pain was so extreme that I couldn’t stand to be awake for more than 10 minutes. I would get out of bed to go get water, but I would stop on the couch to rest. Then I would fall asleep on the couch for an hour. Then I would wake up and go to the kitchen to get water. Then I would sit down at the kitchen table to rest, and I would sleep at the kitchen table for 40 minutes.

Needless to say, I contemplated my own death during this. But I don’t know that I arrived at anything other than just a general reminder that I am actually going to die one day, and it will probably be like this. I will have lost control of my body. I will be telling my body to do one thing, like live, or breathe, or not be in pain, and my body will decide it wants to do another. Like die, or hurt, or expire. Death is just the final reminder of our deep inability to tell anyone, even ourselves, what to do.

It was still raining; the last vestiges of a storm that had served to remind everyone about our ultimate powerlessness here. I mention this because the mood was a kind of grim acceptance. If we have to go it may be now. If it is now, it may be like this. What can we do? That was the mood over the entire region. That was the mood inside me already.

While my head throbbed, my apartment was dark for days. I was in and out of dream states. I got scammed by some random account on Instagram. I knew I was getting scammed but I kind of didn’t care. Maybe they needed the money. I didn’t even unfollow them.

Someone called my house and asked for my mother. She has been dead since 2008 but I still very occasionally get spam calls for her. It’s been a very long time since it happened, but it also made sense now. Maybe she was trying to reach me, I thought. So, I talked to her for a bit, then I sang a song for her. One of the ones she used to like. I didn’t hear back. I miss her.

I called the advice nurse at my health care provider who was so nice to me it almost brought me to tears. She told me she was sorry I was hurting. She asked questions. She called me back the next day to see how I was feeling. I know she was just doing her job, but it was really nice to have someone talking to me that way. I don’t know why it hit the way it did. Maybe because she seemed to care if I was ok but also seemed to want me to have space. “That’s good,” she said when…

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Carvell Wallace

This is where I experiment. This is where I learn to write.