Migraine has been something I’ve lived with for a long time. Though at university I didn’t realise that migraines were happening to me, and I just felt periodically like a panicking waste of space, now I recognise the pattern that they bring to the way I live.
There is a day of listlessness – and a loose, unfocused anxiety, now more and more often accompanied by nausea. This day is usually followed by an early night, and a deep sleep which is then interrupted in the early hours by a deep scraping grinding pain in the bones over my left eye. This pain drifts down my face and a tight weight sits on my chest.
The choice is then whether to take a triptans or not. If I take it at the right time the migraine can be caught, stopped at source. Too late, and the pain intensifies, becomes a narrow, sucking, draining hole into which the contents of my head are slowly drawn.
All the next day I will forget nouns, especially people’s names, and time seems to lose its connection to the world. Minutes might take hours or an hour can pass in a second, without any sense of sleep to explain its speed. It will be spent sitting on a codeine bubble, in which the silent-painful noise of the migraine buzzes, trapped. I drag myself to work on the bus, if I’m teaching, or sit and try to mark or read if I’m able to work from home. Now, sitting in the evening, a dull self-loathing born of a wasted couple of days slowly drips down the back of my throat.
I am awake. My chest is a quick running clock, an empty rattling train carriage. It’s 2.45 in the morning, and I’ve been awake for some time. The blue-white street lamp through the window shines mistily through the window. Everything but my chest is stopped, blue-white frozen, asleep waiting for Larkin’s rise of barking phones and barking dogs.
I have slipped out of time and can only thresh in my bed waiting for it to notice and take me back up. A headache pins me to my pillow, but my legs and feet want to move. If they could divorce my head and the rest of my body they would slide away, slither under doorframes and swim outside in the blue-white moonlight.
I love the potential oxymoron in this phrase. I imagine two gossips talking about another’s peccadillo, and being interrupted by a third declaring ‘oh, that’s rather a dull, standard, deviation’.
Statistically it’s a concept which it is easy to explain, but I find hard to understand. It’s a formula which attempts to describe how spread out the data is in a set of data, in other words, on average how distant is each data point from the average of the whole data set.
Or, in other words it attempts to answer the question “how spread out is the data?”
In the video above I can follow this fairly well until he does the difference between x and ‘x bar’. What he’s referring to here is a calculation which gives you the difference between each data point and the mean of the whole data point. You square these, I think, so that you end up with a positive number. This seems to be the case because the final step is to find the square root, so you’re sort of taking the square out again (sort of).
What does the number tell you? I think that it tells you very little on its own – the SD means little unless you know the mean of the data set, beyond the general rule that the closer the number is to zero the narrower the spread of results. If the mean is 50 and the SD is 10 this would suggest a wider spread than if the mean is 100 and the SD is 10.
At the dentist a couple of weeks ago, whilst he tugged and levered a stoutly resisting molar, I wondered what they see when looking inside a mouth. My dentist was sweating slightly, because pulling on the tooth had taken half an hour, and got us nowhere. He suggested we cut it into quarters and do one bit at a time.
He got some sort of dental hacksaw, and go to work, muttering in grey, too near for focus, about the ‘strange morphology’ of my tooth.
To take my mind away, I wondered whether he considered the historical record that mouths present – my mouth in particular. Was the decay a tell tale sign of the sweets and pepsi phase I went through in the late eighties? Are there any traces left of Ed, university champion roll-up smoker and drinker of gallons of tea (being no good at drinking alcohol)?
I wondered if the few white fillings purchased in flush times before children, now coffee stained, are testimonials of my fall in the world, or whether it was just age, time passing, creeping entropy that he saw described in my ivories.