Going Home

fireplace“I just want to go home” is something I think almost every time I have a bad headache. The phrase was creepy when it first crossed my mind. I am at my home, which I love, but that’s not enough to satisfy my longing. My childhood home, where my parents still live, isn’t what I’m looking for either. So wanting to go home defaults to dying, the ultimate home — certainly not what I want.

I’ve written about going home before, calling it “a safe haven where agony is forbidden.” Burrowing under the covers is what I likened it to that day. But that’s not it either.

Setting aside my deeply held Western philosophies and health beliefs took a long time, but now that I’m considering Eastern and non-mainstream ideas I’m wide open. My current exploration is feng shui. Really, why not — it can only help.

Reading Wind and Water: Your Personal Feng Shui Journey by Carole Hyder last night, I stumbled on a passage about longing to go home. Hyder describes the search for home as a never-ending process “about finding safety and security, unquestioning love and compassion.”

Although my physical home is great, it’s problems loom large — the windows are so leaky that we might as well leave them open all winter, the basement is piled high with junk, the yard always needs weeding. . . . All that aside, wherever you live, dishes or bills to pay or [insert any chore you hate to do] looms.

Creating a place in the house that feels like home is a solution. Hyder recommends choosing a corner, chair or room, setting your favorite things in it and declaring it off-limits to anyone else in the house. Thus creating a special spot that you simply enjoy.

As soon as I read this, I knew I found home months ago without even noticing it. On the couch in front of the fire with a quilt on my feet. Even though we had an ugly break up with the person who made the quilt, it’s covered in quotes from people we love or have loved. I literally wrap myself in love when I need it most.

I’ve just realized that I have a second home too. I always feel like an obsessed 13-year-old when I talk about this, but I am truly soothed every time I hear Dave Matthews sing. It’s like his voice has seeped into my bones and I relax whenever I listen to it.

I’m currently listening to a (legally downloaded) show that I saw in England. I was entranced through the entire show; it was the best I’ve been to. My head is bad today, but I don’t notice it much right now. Perhaps it’s the pain-reducing effects of music that a recent study found. Maybe all that matters is that I’ve been transported to an amazing night.

Where’s your place, fixed or transient, to go home to?

8 thoughts on “Going Home”

  1. i found your site trying to figure out my current headache problems. altho your site doesn’t seem to have the information i need it has helped me to find the information, thank you.

    i clicked this must read post for multiple reasons. “i wanna go home” is i phrase i’ve used my entire life. for me it means so many things. i want to die, i want comfort, i want to belong, i want my mommy, etc. they all mean “i want to feel no pain”

    my first migraines started when i was 12. they peaked in highschool, even causing me to fail a class. since having children i have had 1 migraine. i feel blessed because altho that one scared me that they might return, that one wasn’t bad, and it was almost 5 years ago.

    since sunday i have been experiencing what i believe to be cluster headaches. and my desire to return home has grown, so much so while having one and an emotional breakdown at work, i cried out “i just wanna go home” my boss tried to make me. but i knew i could work thru the pain, i knew it’d be gone as they are usually only lasting 5-20 minutes.

    thank you for this post. it helped me re-evaluate what home is to me right now. and where i belong when i am in pain.

  2. Kerrie,
    Loved the post! I too, agree, that even in the
    throughs of a migraine-vomiting in the bright,
    loud ER, waiting my relief in the form of
    demerol, the only place I want to be is home.
    Even if it’s just a visit to my Doctor’s clinic
    for a bad migraine, it’s the same; get me out,
    go to walgreens, get me home!
    My safe place at home is in bed, and I can relate
    to your comforter, kerrie, mine is from my mom and
    it is made of all my special t-shirts from special
    events in high school!! With my ipod on Enya and
    Jim Brickman,and Amy Grant…Ice pack on neck,
    ginger ale on the nightstand, trashcan by the bed,
    and my 15 pound “baby” kitty on my tummy, purring
    and taking care of me!
    I love your site, and I am sorry you are having
    a rough time too. I am as well, it seems we all
    are right now, but what a blessing to be able
    to share here! Here’s to pain-free days!
    On a final note, I think Dorothy in “The Wizard
    of Oz” said it best…”There’s no place like
    Carla Jo

  3. I, too, cried when I read your “Going Home” blog. I have just discovered the internet’s ability to create a forum to share like stories. I have had migraines since a freshman in college and they have progressively become worse over the years. I am now 71 and they are an every day occurance and I am amazed at how many of “us” there are and our many likenesses…no matter what the age. Those facts were not, however, what struck me so profoundly when I read your words. Five years ago my daughter, then 42, came for a visit. She was obviously distressed and made flipant excuses about what was bothering her. One phrase she used during this time was,”I want to go home”. I thought she was talking about her childhood home. Within six months of that visit, she died of breast cancer. She must have known and now I know what she was telling me. One thing of which I’m assured : we will all be home together in time…safe, secure and without pain.

    What a touching story, but I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. You sum up “home” so well — safe, secure and without pain.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Take care of yourself.


  4. Dear Kerrie,

    I cried while reading your post because it hit so close to “home”, no pun intended.

    Last Tuesday I had what was probably the worst migraine of my life.

    I went to my neurologist’s office for a migraine treatment but nothing they were doing was helping so I just begged to go home.

    Later that night I am sure that I suffered a mini nervous breakdown. I just couldn’t take the pain anymore and I was going out of my mind with the pain.

    Thankfully I wasn’t alone, my best friend was with me. She just sat with me and rubbed my back as I was screaming in pain and screaming that I wanted my mom.

    I am 40 years old and my mom died suddenly 5 years ago, yet I ached to be in my childhood home with her. I guess I felt that if I could be in the home where I grew up, when troubles were few and far in between, and with my mom, I would feel better somehow. As you said I wanted to go home again, where I was safe and not in pain.

    When I am having a migraine I wrap myself up in a quilt that she made and was left to me when she died. Somehow that always makes me feel better. I can’t stand it when I have to take it to the cleaners and I am without for a few day.

    Thank you Kerrie for such I wonderful blog, I am a faithful reader. You help me not to feel so alone in the world, you always seem to “get” how I am feeling. I hope that you continue your blog for a very long time.


    And I cried when I read what you wrote. You are so fortunate to have your mother’s quilt when you need her comfort the most. I know it’s not a substitute, of course, but what a gift she left you.

    It sounds like you have a terrific best friend, too!

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you won’t have another night like the one you describe. Take care of yourself.


  5. Hi Kerrie.

    Just found your blog in the NY Times article. Been having classic migraines — on one side on the head or the other — since I was 12. I’m 53 now. And male, which makes my condition even more difficult for others to understand. Migraines are generally considered a “women’s issue.” But mine were passed down from my grandfather, through my mother, to me.

    I’ve been taking Topamax for a few years. Seems to have decreased the intensity a bit, though it’s all relative when you have a migraine. I still get them 2 to 4 times a week. But I don’t have any choice. I work a full-time plus job as a Creative Director at an ad agency in Orlando. Sometimes 6 days a week. Fioricet helps some. Imitrex works occasionally. But it’s brutal. As you know, they can last for days.

    And I keep saying to myself, “I just want to go home.”

    I can’t imagine how tough it must be to be a man with migraine.

    I’m glad that meds are helping you at least a bit, but am sorry that you still suffer so much.

    I wish you all the best as you try to manage your health and your work. I hope you’re able to find a place to call home.


  6. I am feeling for you and sending hope your way.

    I will send you more on my story later, but I spent the past three years in a living hell. I’d had headaches and migraines on and off for years, but it got to a point where I hurt almost 100% of the time, with horrible headaches nonstop that turned into migraines 3-5 days a week. I went through every medication possible, then spent the last year living the life of a 90 year old person (I’m not even 30 yet…) who never left home. Pain made my speech slurred, and I found it hard to even watch TV or read. My bloodwork is abnormal, but not in any way that makes sense. One docotor concluded that I had fibromyalgia, which I believe was her attempt to avoid dealing with me any further. I do have old neck and head injuries from several childhood tumbles off my horse, but nothing conclusive. Basically I spent thousands on expensive tests and got lots of runaround for no answers. I love my neurlogist, but he’s stumped too, and freely admits it. I tried a chiropractor, I had my hormones checked-I even had a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever test.

    My husband got used to never going out, and life basically sucked. I understand your concept of “going home-” it’s the feeling that if you could just somehow reboot, maybe it would be better…

    About two months ago, my doctor tried me on Lyrica, and unbelievably, it worked. I felt like I had stepped out of the 90 year old body and back into mine! I jogged two miles yesterday morning; before, I was barely been able to walk around the grocery store for the blinding pain. I hope to get up to my pre-headcahe six miles before it’s all over with. It will take a while- I am in bad shape and 30 pounds heavier, but I feel unstoppable right now.

    There is hope. I was so close to just giving up on everything. I too, had decided never to have kids, because let’s face it, I couldn’t take care of myself most days.

    I am rambling, and typing really fast, as I have to get to bed soon to get up for my 6:00 jog before my job. I just left the ambigous “freelance” world (isn’t that a nifty code for “I haven’t worked much in three years because of headaches”) for a FABULOUS design job, and I couldn’t be happier!)

    I don’t know if this will last. The headaches could come back tommorrow. Sometimes the fear of the headaches coming back nearly paralyzes me. I am not sure I can make it if I have to go through it all again. But for now, I am feeling incredible- I didn’t know how wonderful it felt to have no pain! Colors are brighter, and I can THINK!!!

    Good luck to you, and my heart hurts for you. I have shared your pain for quite a while now, though I was always too sick and despondent to get up the energy to bother posting. You are not alone, and I really appreciated your blog when I hurt- knowing I wasn’t alone kept me going more often than you could know. Feeling sick while everyone around you seems to be going 100 miles an hour (and half of them think you are crazy…) is hard.

    So many of your experiences have mirrored my own, and I hope your healing does too. I am usually quite well written, but I didn’t plan to write tonight- something just told me to do it, so this is very spur-of-the-moment. Forgive my rambling, discombobulated story, and know this:

    Good luck, and stay strong. I will be closing my eyes and saying a little extra prayer for you tonight.


    What wonderful news that Lyrica helps you. It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying your new-found freedom so much. I’m glad that you’re taking what you’ve got and running with it, appreciating it now even if it doesn’t last forever.

    Thank you for your kind words and sharing your experience. I would love to hear more of your story.

    Take care,

  7. In my ned, with the curtains drawn, the TV off, and the big down comfortor on top of me!!

    (oh and lights off, and perferably quite in the house, but I do like it when my dog is next to the bed, just “making sure I’m ok”) lol

    I’m glad you’ve got a home. It must be great to have your dog watch over you!


  8. Beautiful posting Kerrie. I was very touched by it, and could identify with much of what you wrote. When I think “I want to go home” what I really mean is most closely expressed in the last two verses of a John Denver song (words by Joe Henry):


    Take my hand now and remember, when you find yourself alone
    You’re never alone

    And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens
    It fills the endless yearning of the soul
    It lives within a star to far to dream of
    It lives within each part and is the whole
    It’s the fire and the wings that fly us home
    Fly us home! Fly us home!

    What a great song. Thanks for sharing it.

    And thanks for the kind words.


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