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The neverending headache - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
The neverending headache
I believe I have had a headache for well over a week now. I would really like for it to go away.

I remember it was years ago when I finally learned that the headaches I get are migranes. My immpression of migranes were that they were very serious and that women who got them couldn't do anything while they had them. (My headaches vary, but usually they are just bad enough to annoy me; I can still do stuff if I have to.) Then I saw or heard some program about headaches and saw the symptom list for migranes. My headaches are generally on one side only, I am sensitive to both light and noise when I'm having them, and sometimes I get nausea. Then doctor on the program mentioned the one symptom that generally decided it for her... she'd ask the patient if they would ever consider exercising while they had one of their headaches, and if they looked at her like she was a crazy person for even suggesting it, then she knew the headaches were migranes.

This morning I was feeling better. Foolishly thinking that my second dose of Advil Migrane forumla last night had finally killed the beast I decided to head for the gym for the first time in a week to get some much-needed cardio in. This was a bad plan. Nothing will make one of these headaches worse like getting your heart rate up will. A simple short jog will boost a headache that was a tolerable 2 or 3 on the pain scale all the way up to 11, the point at which you feel exactly like someone is driving a nail through your temple. Or in this case, there is nothing like a little treadmill time to make a headache so light that I failed to notice it and turn it into something that will ruin my day. Sigh.

I've tried everything I can think of to be rid of this thing: tylenol, advil, special migrane advil, more water, more caffine, less caffine, earlier bedtime, less time in front of the computer, less warcraft and more salt. Even the lovely headache massages that psychohist gives me only make things better temporarily. At this point I'm sure that some of you are thinking the headache must be caused by stress, and I should just relax. Well, that's brilliant, but how exactly does one just relax? Its like telling someone not to think about elephants. I'm sure the headache does have something to do with stress, but I don't 'just relax'. In fact, I don't believe it can be done, though maybe if I got to hit the next person who suggested that I should 'just relax' and I would get pregnant I would find that relaxing. In the mean time I need to think of somethime more practical to try.


21 comments or Leave a comment
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: October 18th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

migraines, we hates them!

I also recently decided that maybe my headaches were migraines; when they're bad, I'm also nauseous, and increased heart rate definiately exacerbates them. But until recently (when I got the crazy "visual migraine") I had read all these descriptions of migraines as being "pain beyond that which mere mortals can comprehend" and they never seemed to be that. Sure, they're painful. But it's, you know *pain*. Not some grand uber-pain I'm incapable of comprehending.

I don't have any great solutions, though - I use Advil (which works for me better than Tylenol) and wet washcloths (which always work better when harrock makes them wet than when I do, so maybe he could come over and make wet washcloths for you, though that's perhaps not so practical. But then he could tell you to just relax, and you could hit him, and that would make everything better in two ways!)
twe From: twe Date: October 18th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

you could hit him, and that would make everything better

How many wife points do you get for saying hitting your husband makes everything better? ;)

Hmm, I sometimes get headaches that last for more than a couple hours, are only one side or the other, resist food/drink/sleep/advil, and get worse when I move around. They're not usually More Than One Can Bear, but do tend to result in a whole lot of not wanting to do much of anything. (For some reason, headaches also make me feel sleepy.)
harrock From: harrock Date: October 18th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

How many wife points do you get for saying hitting your husband makes everything better? ;)

It's really hard to spin that particular thing as a positive-Wife-Points situation, though the downside exposure isn't very big unless she offers tangible rewards for someone to beat me up. :)
psychohist From: psychohist Date: October 18th, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

Can you describe the "visual migraine" further?

I've always gotten the headaches of the type Elizabeth describes, which are what most people seem to mean when they say "migraine".

Then, maybe about a year ago, I had an experience which I didn't consider a headache, but was kind of scary. It was like part of my brain switched off suddenly, and only gradually came back online. I had tunnel vision for a few minutes, wasn't able to compose responses to what other people were saying, couldn't use the spreadsheet that I had open as an aid to my RPG run. Gradually over a couple minutes most things got back to normal, with some visual effects being the last to fade after a few hours.

I didn't think of it as a headache because it didn't hurt at all, at any point. When I did web searches, the symptom sounded like what some sites called a "microstroke".

When I saw a neurologist about it, she said that this was a migraine, and that my normal headaches were not migraines, but 'muscular headaches' or something like that. Of course, she also said that basically we have no clue about what causes migraines, and she had no recommendations on what to do to prevent recurrence. She also pretty much dismissed the concept of microstrokes.

It's confusing when different people use the term "migraine" to refer exclusively to two different things.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: October 18th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

The visual effect I got was curving lines of flashing colored triangles, as near as I can describe. I found a flash animation of something very similar: http://www.knownjohnson.com/?p=73

It seems to also be called "scintillating scotoma". Anyway, this doesn't seem at all like your symptoms, so it's not so much help...
psychohist From: psychohist Date: October 19th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

Actually, to clarify, the tunnel vision went away quickly; the visual effects that lasted for an hour or two were flashy lights. I don't have the Flash plugin, but it sounds somewhat like the description on that page. The momentary amentia worried me more, though - it would undoubtedly have caused an accident had I been driving - and that isn't part of the description you give.

At least your page mentions a possible cause (spasming blood vessels).
enugent From: enugent Date: October 19th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

Tom had what his doctor called an optical migraine one time, which had different optical symptoms from yours but also involved no pain. My grandmother has also been having episodes of vertigo that we think may be migraines, again, with no pain.

I hope it never comes back!
psychohist From: psychohist Date: October 19th, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: migraines, we hates them!

That incident, in addition to a number of incidents that seemed like they might be angina, caused me to get serious about avoiding trans fats and getting more omega threes.

It wasn't serious enough to cause me to resume an exercise program, though....
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: October 18th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

hitting harrock

Somehow I find the idea of harrock telling me to 'just relax' with the sort of straight face and earnest tone that such stupid advice normally comes with implausable.
harrock From: harrock Date: October 18th, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: hitting harrock

In the right situation, I can deliver straight lines with the best of 'em. In fact, working where I do, in a department with special powers in being taken seriously, I have to be darn careful--we're all practicioners of Irony in our department, but we have to practice in secret to avoid our snide comments being turned into dogma.
From: treptoplax Date: October 18th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: hitting harrock

So, you're thinking her migranes could be caused by micro-bursts?
twe From: twe Date: October 19th, 2006 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: hitting harrock

It's either that or the dreaded VMS pause.
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: October 18th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
The thing that has the best chance of making my headaches better is consuming more potassium.
Are you sure that it's not sinus-related? It's been allergy season for a while now.

I'm sorry that you're hurting. I hope you feel better soon.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: October 18th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Potassium, eh?

It occurred to me that it might be sinus related, but there doesn't seem to be anything going on in my nose -- not even sneezing.

I was about to poo-poo the potassium idea, saying 'but I just had X amount of potassium in my multi-vitamin', but then I read the label and it turns out that my multi-vitamin doesn't have potassium in it. Oops. I guess I'll try a bananna when I get home. The worst thing it can do is ruin my appetite for anything my wonderful husband feels like fixing for dinner, and I expect he'll understand.
twe From: twe Date: October 18th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)


Feel better soon...
countertorque From: countertorque Date: October 18th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've heard that milk helps.

I've played ultimate with minor effects like this. It does make the headache worse, but the real problem was that the frisbee would become invisible on it's way to me and I'd end up taking it in the face.
twe From: twe Date: October 19th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
the real problem was that the frisbee would become invisible on it's way to me and I'd end up taking it in the face

jaedian From: jaedian Date: October 19th, 2006 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)


I have been getting these for an awfully long time. I was diagnosed in college but had them before that. .

The prescription medications have gotten much better. I don't know if you have seen a doctor about this recently, but it might be worth it. Imitrex worked really well for me and you don't even have to inject it anymore. And I think there are a few more of that class of drug available now. (I haven't been able to take it for awhile due to pregnancies and nursing) It was the only thing that ever just stopped the headaches right in their tracks.

Right now i have prescription tyl with codeine. It isn't great but it does help. I often combine with the previously mentioned wet wash cloths and napping in a completely dark quiet room. (Or as close s I can approximate these days)

Anyway, it is worth looking into, although you will have to see what you can take while trying to become pregnant. Once pregnant you have much less options, tylenol (no ibuprofen or naproxen) And your headaches could get worse.

Caffeine can be rticky. For me at least, if I took it early in a heache it could help, but later on it was useless. And caffeine withdrawal can trigger headaches.

Oh and if it is a sinus headache it may well hurt when you move your head around, like hang your head down.

Hope this helps - I happen to have a headache myself right now so I sympathize
remcat From: remcat Date: October 20th, 2006 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get classic migranes, now and then "improved" by flashing lights in one eye (usually the left) that precede the headache itself and (in truth) are more disabling. I don't like to drive when the lights are flashing, if I can help it.

I do not find the pain unbearable. Generally I tolerate pain well though. My are stress-related and also not-enough-sleep-related.

The only thing that ever made the headaches go away was some prescription meds that made me very, very stupid. Not good.

Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones, and get no headaches at all while pregnant! (It does happen ...)
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: October 20th, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Considering that both Clomid and Follistim seem to give me migranes, I'm not holding my breath on that one. Actually, I would happily trade nine months of non-stop migrane for a healthy baby. You can quote me on that later, too.
remcat From: remcat Date: October 21st, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've heard that the various meds cause headaches too -- that sucks. I will be happy to quote you later on, but I will also be perfectly willing to hear you grouse about pregnancy woes too :).
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