Friday, March 04, 2011


It could be the heavy lifting I've been doing or the worrying about finding a buyer for my home.  Perhaps it is the smell of fresh paint or all the fiber I'm consuming trying to clear out the wheat and oats from my food storage. I might need more water or sleep or exercise or down time.Whatever it is that is causing it I went to bed last night with, tossed and turned throughout because of, and woke up with a terrible headache.

It is not uncommon for me to get a headache.  I have at least a few a month.  Sometimes they last for an hour or two, sometimes days. The pain can be anything from a numb tingle to a sharp stabbing pain that radiates throughout my body.

I've learned to recognize the symptoms of a headache beginning.  I get a dry pulling sensation at the back roof of my mouth, the bridge of my nose starts to tingle then my ears start to tickle in a way that makes me want to pull on them.  After that my stomach starts to turn and I feel mildly nauseas, like low grade hunger, and the tiniest bit dizzy--not enough to fall down but enough to feel a bit off balance, uneasy and out of it. Usually if I can catch the headache at this point with a couple Excedrin or two asprins and a Tylenol within an hour I'll be fine (the only difference between Excedrin and the two asprins and a Tylenol is that Excedrin has lots of caffeine in it.  It is more effective at quickly stopping the headache but is also more likely to cause rebound headaches and keep me up at night. I am careful to only use Excedrin when I really need it and only during the day.)

If I don't catch it early--perhaps I'm busy doing other things and don't pay attention to my body OR I am somewhere where I do not have the ability to take anything--it gets much more difficult to get rid of. I have tried lots of different medications none of which have worked (though I admit I got so fed up with being a guinea pig that I haven't been back to a doc in about 6 years--I'm sure there are better meds for controlling cluster headaches now).  So I turn to alternatives like hot and cold compresses, hot showers, sleep, work and patience.

I learned my hot and cold compress trick from my friend Rochelle B.  in Fresno, CA. She instructed me to put a cold pack--like a bag of frozen veggies--on my head and a hot pad on my neck.  I leave them there and try to relax for 10 minutes and then swap them putting the cold on my neck and the hot on my head.  The idea is that this confuses the nerves and soothes the muscles all at the same time.  This is very relaxing and helps sometimes.

Hot Showers also help but the problem is getting out of the shower.  Once I'm out of the shower the pain returns.  I think the sensation of the hot shower overwhelms the same nerves that are giving me the headache so as long as they are hot that is what I feel but once they cool down the pain returns.  It is nice however to have a bit of reprieve and then to lay down for a nap, if possible.

Sometimes the pain is too much to sleep through.  Sometimes it is too much to even sit still through. Sometimes I want to bang my head on the wall or squeeze my temples really tight or push into my eyes with my fingertips and I just have to keep myself busy to distract myself from that pain.  When it is this bad I am likely to start a project outdoors doing heavy lifting and digging or perhaps deep clean the kitchen or something else big. Not sitting, not thinking, just laboring and waiting for it to go away.

This is how I am feeling today--a killer of a headache.  I've had so many lately that the meds are doing a number on my gut, I think I've given myself another ulcer.  To avoid doubling my pain--head and stomach--I will not be taking aspirin, tylenol, excedrin, ibuprofen or anything else, I must work on something big to get my mind off my head.  I will be moving shelves and a desk out of my sewing room, rearranging the garage sale items in the garage and stacking away packed boxes.

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