20 February 2008



Even the word makes me wince.

I've had troubles with headaches since I was roughly 10 years old, when complaining about them scored me a trip to the eye doctor's to check and see if poor vision was the cause of the headaches. I still remember sitting in a darkened hallway after they'd put those horrible drops in your eyes that force your eyes to dilate so that they can look for.....what, exactly? No idea. I also remember being terrified that I'd leave the eye doctor's with glasses; as far as I was concerned, it was bad enough that I was one of the "smart" kids, adding glasses would just further deteriorate my social standing in a typically horrifying time period in any kid's life: middle school.

Nothing was wrong with my eyes back then. I told the adults in my world that, but we checked with the eye doc just to be sure. I can tell you now that I was one very tense little kid. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school, and worried excessively about all kinds of things. I've never really lost that anxiety; only for brief periods of time have I lived without it.

Research I've done as an adult has taught me a few things about my headaches. While I do get migraines from time to time, my usual garden-variety headaches are of three basic types. Tension headaches, caused by stress. Weather-related, when a large low-pressure system moves through my area, I get a headache. I've no explanation for that one. Finally, the last bunch are related to my menstrual cycle. TMI, I know, I know. But those are caused by hormonal shifts. All of them tend to be 'cluster' headaches, which means that they're re-occurring, lasting several days. They also have 'rebound' characteristics, which means that they come back after medication wears off, often worse than before analgesics were taken.

I refuse to take a prescription for them. Dr. H, the family doc, gave me samples of Imitrex and Relpax a few years ago to try for the headaches; Imitrex made me feel like a space cadet. The headache disappeared, sure, but the side effects! Among a bunch of other really weird things, my skin felt too tight. I've never tried the Relpax for that reason.

I got interested in aromatherapy as a possible solution to the headaches. Lavender and peppermint/spearmint essential oils do help, but don't solve the problem for me. Unfortunately, because I'd love a natural solution to yet another of my problems that doctors don't understand well.

The migraines, when they come, make me sensitive to light and sound, make me nauseous, make me pretty incapable of doing much of anything other than lying down in a dark room. Perhaps the worst part is that the garden variety headaches morph into migraines if I can't get a handle on them. Two days or so with a tension headache spells m-i-g-r-a-i-n-e. Ugh.

The current one is a tension headache. My job is stressing me the hell out, and I'm not dealing well. Would anyone out there like to give me a credit card and pay me to travel for a living? 'Cause I'm pretty sure that'd solve this whole tension/stress lunacy. Just a thought.


Dawna said...

I've always felt so bad for people who've suffer from a variety of headaches, particularly migraines. Never had 'em for the longest time... until I had my first black tea 5 years ago.

How can people even consider going to work, or hell, do ANYTHING in those conditions?! Seriously! My head doesn't let me do more than lie down and DON'T MOVE. My legs could be cramping and I will still refuse to move. The pain in my legs are secondary to the migraine pain.

It boggles my mind that any person could put up with that pain! That is hell. You know, that cannot be good for the body in any shape or form. There must be something going on with our physical brain if the human body can send itself into so much pain for seemingly little reason.

The only good thing about a migraine is that when it is over... you feel like you can fly! The release from so much pain sends me into some subdued form of ecstasy... I swear.

Have you tried acupuncture? It may not get rid of it, however it brings the migraine to its peek much faster so you can get along with your day on the downhill.

Lucy Arin said...

no one understands quite like another migraine suffer-er.

Nope, I've never tried acupuncture, but I do see a massotherapist who is a demi-god. If I can get to him when the headache starts, he gets rid of it entirely. He does deep tissue pressure, and it isn't a relaxing spa sort of massage. It hurts. But when I leave there, the pain is better, and the next day...oh, ya feel like a million bucks. I use him for my neck pain, the shoulder injury I have, when I've thrown my back out. Love him.

Now, if he could fix the depression....