My Head Aches

It often begins with a general feeling of malaise.

And then, as with any good mystery there are the burning questions that demand answers. Will this be a nauseous, writhe in bed all day, call your friends to pick up your kids, vomit your guts up headache or just an annoying one that leaves you functional, but miserable? Where will the drummer set up his band today, over the left eye or over the right eye?   You never know where that devil, pain is taking you and you’ve just got to hang on for the ride. You’re always on a precipice, on the edge of what might just be a descent into hell and, the thing is, it’s mostly out of your hands.  There’s even a name for a person like me.  I’m a migraineur.  I could be an entrepreneur or an arbitrageur but, no, I’m a migraineur. Isn’t that fancy?

I didn’t steal this headache thing.  I came by it honestly.  My mother had migraines.  My father had plain old headaches. I was doubly doomed.  My mother says I had my first one when I was three.  And, she must be right because I don’t remember a world without headaches, or darkened rooms or nausea or missed activities. But, you know what?  It makes me angry, massively angry because I don’t want this pain anymore and I don’t deserve it either.  Do you hear me?  I’m done.  It’s enough already.  It really is.

I’ve fought the good fight and don’t say I haven’t. I’ve tried among other things: biofeedback, hypnosis, acupuncture, prophylactic medication, triptans, narcotics and journaling to look for triggers. Let’s break it down. I have pills I take to prevent headaches, and I have pills I take when those pills don’t work.  I even have the pills to take when those second pills don’t work.  That last set of pills is euphemistically called “rescue” medication. But, sadly, even rescuers sometimes fail in their mission. I’ve had my hopes raised and dashed countless times.  Whenever there is the promise of a migraine cure on the evening news my mother calls me excitedly but somehow that particular cure is only for the person who gets migraines every third Tuesday in May and alas, that’s never me.

Two weeks ago, I tried yet again.  This time it was thirty injections of Botox into my head, so now, in addition to the headaches, I’m having trouble moving my neck and shoulders.  Not to worry, the good news is that the injections, which did nothing to relieve my headaches, will wear off and my shoulders and neck will feel better soon.  The doctors are left, as always, scratching their proverbial heads.

I’m trying to look for the silver lining on this cloud.  Have my headaches made me a more empathic person?  I think and hope the answer to that is yes because I have a personal understanding and appreciation of chronic pain. But, I wish there had been an easier path to empathy. My headaches have taught me another valuable lesson.  Live in the moment.  I’m very grateful for the good days, the days when I feel well. It’s a level of appreciation that someone who feels well all the time might not have, but I’d rather not be so appreciative.  Thanks anyway.

I may sound vanquished but I’m not.  I’m an optimist at heart and I’m not throwing in the towel.  Sure, let my head gloat today but one day, I tell you, one day….we’ll just see who’s boss around here.

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7 thoughts on “My Head Aches

  1. Helene-

    I have had migraines since high school. In my 20’s and 30’s, I would get them once every two months or once a quarter (i.e. not too bad). Then I hit 40, and they started hitting much more frequently – once a month, then bi-weekly, then weekly for a while. Like you, I journaled…tried every medicine known to man…even got a brain scan.

    Around November, I ditched the gluten – not entirely but reduced consumption almost to zero (I do allow myself Friday night pizza). Net result, I am back to 6-8 week intervals. Furthermore, two of the last three migraines I could directly attribute to barometric pressure (I charted it); the third came on in the middle of a particularly intense workout that I had no business attempting.

    Most people cut back on gluten due to digestive disorders (Celiac’s Disease), but I have also talked to a number of migraneurs who have experienced same benefit.

    • Very interesting. I’ve heard that gluten can be associated with migraines. I guess I’ve been lazy. I’m a big fan of gluten. I may sound crazy but it’s easier to try stuff like Botox than to do those elimination diets. I guess it’s time to try? Ugh. There is also a hormonal element and I’m not sure how that factors into it all.

  2. Wow! I hope you can get control of your migraines. I’m still working on controlling mine. I have chronic daily headaches and at least one migraine per week. I can empathize with having your hopes raised and then dashed. I have cried in many doctor’s offices as the realization that, “this man/woman won’t be able to help me either” sinks in. Like you I haven’t given up. There has to be something we migraineurs 😉 can do.

    I wish you all the best.

      • Thx! I’m presently reading and apply the info. found in the book, “Heal Your Headaches”, by Dr. David Buchholz. I haven’t started to see results yet, I just started this month. If I don’t see any changes after 6 months to a year, allergy testing will certainly be something I’ll consider.
        Thx for responding and following my blog!

  3. Hi Helene! Always happy to meet another Helene. 🙂 I also have migraines and almost daily headaches. I take Maxalt when I feel one coming on but it doesn’t always work. Hate the side effects, too.

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