Yesterday I looked at the sky, searching for the telltale signs of a chinook: the arch of cloud to the west that covers the sky. I didn't see it, but today the secretary of our department told me that I didn't look far enough. She saw it over the Rocky Mountains, but it was far away. This morning the clouds were undeniable. Today, we definitely had chinook conditions.
I should have known.
I did know, in fact. My head told me so.
No, it's not that I heard voices telling there were warm westerly winds coming over the Rockies. It's the incredible headaches I get which precede the chinook. It's not just me. Lots of people here get them.
When I first moved to Alberta, I wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I remember it well. It was in January sometime... the first semester I'd ever taught. My class was from 4:00 p.m. By noon, I was holding on to the wall as I walked down the hallway of Craigie Hall, the building that houses the foreign language departments. Holding on to the wall was the only way I could stand up. My head felt like it was going to explode and I was seeing black blotches everywhere.
I don't remember how I got through teaching that day, or how I made it home, which was about a 20 minute walk at the time. I remember waking up the next day wondering what had happened.
A few weeks later, the whole thing repeated itself. I couldn't figure it out... Probably the stress of my first year of grad school, I told myself. But it didn't make sense. I'd never felt anything like it before.
I told a few people about it and someone said, "Chinook headache."
"What?" I asked. I thought the person was out of his mind. Weather can cause a headache? You're nuts, I thought.
I was told, "Not just a headache. A chinook headache. It's a kind of migraine."
That was even more unbelievable. I don't get migraines. Ever.
But I do get chinook headaches. And they wipe me out like nobody's business.
Different people get them in different ways. For me, the headache usually comes before the chinook itself. By the time the chinook arrives in Calgary, my headache has subsided, as mine did by today.
Since I don't consider myself a migraine sufferer, I don't have meds for it. Tylenol is useless. Once I took about 15 Tylenol over the course of the day when I had a chinook headache. Nothing.
A friend who suffers with them told me that he swears by aspirin... something about the physical effect it has on blood vessels... Opens them up, I think? Anyway, he was right. They help. Somewhat. They get me to a point where I can stand up and function, without nausea or blacking out, which is good. But you have to catch it early. Otherwise, they don't do anything.
I hate that. I refuse to lose time at work or allow a headache to get the better of me. On days like that, I force myself forward... doing whatever was scheduled in my daytimer, regardless of how I feel.
Lemme tell ya... yestday's "walk/run" was not exactly enjoyable. Pounding feet. Pounding head. Not fun.
It's no wonder that I was home and in bed by about 8:30 p.m. last night. Sleep also helps... mostly because you wake up the next day and the weather has gone from "pre-chinook conditions" to full on "chinook", which for me, spells relief.
Today the chinook is here. Thank the gods and winds and whatever else is out there that it has finally arrived!!