Saturday, March 12, 2005

My achy breaky head

I'm a migraineur.

Sounds impressively like an enterprising businessperson, doesnt it? Huh, I wish! All it means is that I'm somebody who gets migraines. Those agonising killer headaches that can happen suddenly, at any time, without warning... the ones that feel like some little monster with an oversized hammer has taken up residence behind your eye or in your skull, and is now banging away at the rate of a thump a second. When that happens, all I can think of is to swallow whatever headache/migraine tablets are around until the headache subsides.

In my sane, non-headachey times I know that indiscriminate popping of over-the-counter headache pills is going to ruin my kidneys/heart/brain/whatever/everything in the long run... but try being rational when the whole world recedes to the sound of discordant drums in your head! Fellow migraineurs will know exactly what I mean when I say that during a migraine attack, the short run is all that counts. ANYTHING to stop that pounding NOW.

I know of some factors that definitely give me a headache - too much time outside when it's hot, red wine, squinting against bright sunshine, a crying jag... these are definite triggers. But there are days when I get a headache for no reason that I can see - it's usually like "oh no, i feel headachey", and then BAM! the headache's on at full blast.

Various doctors have, over the years, asked if I "feel" anything before a headache. Apparently some people smell oranges (even when there arent any around), or see flashing lights or dots, or hear a buzzing in their heads, and so on. But I have never heard/seen/felt anything that tangible. It isnt anything I can describe, I just KNOW that a headache is going to happen. I only wish I could "know" a few hours earlier, rather than a few minutes or seconds. It doesnt give me much time to brace myself for it. Or take preventive medicine.

But the kind of headache that I hate the most are the ones where I go to bed completely headeache-free - and wake up in the middle of the night to the realisation that I have what I call a "heavy-metal" migraine. Painful noise, in other words, of the kind where everything in sight is being thumped at random. Those are the worst kind... sometimes they dont go away for a day or two even if I take more than the recommended dosage of ANY headache medicine. Then the only thing to do is shut out all sources of light and sound, and suffer in solitary silence. Sleep is not an option because of the thumping that's going on. But neither is getting up and facing the world, or making even the least movement... it's just unimaginable.

Despite having suffered from inexplicable and sudden headaches all my life, nobody has been able to discover WHY I get the damn things. My first memory of headaches is me at about 8 years, when we were living in Tanzania. I was lying on the dining table and crying in agony, with my mother hovering helplessly around, unable to stop the pain in any way. After that, I was saddled with spectacles. A pleasant surprise at first, because I could suddenly see the blackboard in school again. Not so pleasant in other circumstances because they kept falling or slipping down my nose. They also didnt stop the migraines.

Anyhow, until recently I hadnt realised that migraines and headaches had been
classified and pinned down under various sub-titles. In fact, strange to say, I hadnt even known that there was such an organisation as the International Headache Society. I dont know why I didnt really bother researching headaches - I suppose the thing is that when I'm suffering with a migraine, it's impossible to care about anything. And when I DONT have a headache, I literally forget about it. It must be something to do with not remembering pain once it's gone.

That cliched description of child-birth is a good example... no woman would have more than one child if the memory of childbirth incorporated the actual physical pain every time. Although I havent been through childbirth, I can see it's true because when I think about the headaches I've had, I know they've been agony but I cant duplicate that agony until I actually HAVE a headache.

Enough of that, I think. Anyway, after reading about the headache classifications, I wondered if I should evaluate my migraines. When I googled the topic,
this came up. Too bad that after reading it, I nearly gave myself a headache trying to define the kind I got. Best leave dormant migraines alone, methinks...

Headache FAQs


Harish said...

Ouch, that sounds painful :(

I've never had a migrane.. and by the sound of it, I hope it stays that way! :(

Shyam said...

'tis painful... and if you havent ever had it, I really hope it stays that way too! :)

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