Monday 19 July 2010

All This Thinking Is Making My Head Hurt: Headaches & Migraines.

The new Migraine Barbie
(photo from MigraineChick)

My alternate title for this post was going to be "All Migraines Should be Margarita Related", because damn it, they should be.  At least then you get the yummy salty, limey, tequilary goodness beforehand.  But no, instead I feel like Bob grabbed the bloody tequila bottle off the bar before I could get a sip, and whacked me in the side of the head.  And that's just wrong.  Tequila really should only be used as a force for good.  Dance on the table with your undies on your head, type of good.  This just confirms Bob's association with the Dark side of the Force.  Bad Bob.  You're a bad bad man.  Next you'll tell me that the use of glitter past age five in sad.  Evil bastard!

This last week has been a doozey.  Day after day of excruciating brain pain.  And yes, before anyone with a super tight sphincter informs me that it's not actually your brain (you know who you are 'Anonymous' perfecto with no life), and that the brain has no pain sensors, I know.  It's just easier than saying the whole blood vessel dilation, inflammation, chemical release blah blah blah.  Okay?  Okay.

I've either had a medium level headache or red hot poker through the eyeball migraines.  I swear Friday I thought my eyeballs would actually liquefy if I opened my lids.  And I'm pretty sure that all the contents of my head were trying to make a break for it through my left eye socket and surrounding pores.  Then you add the nausea and the sensitivity to touch, sound, light etc.  It's one big party.

Pain meds generally only take the edge off, and as I've said previously I'm not keen to take them on a regular basis thanks to the fact you end up feeling like you are passing a besser block each time you go to the loo.  Hmmm head pain vs butt pain, what to choose?

(Poos should never look like this)

I go through phases like this every now and then.  Storms a friend called them the other day.  A very appropriate word.  Just as fierce and impossible to control.  You just have to weather it,  and wait till the thunder stops.  Most days I have a headache, but that's just white noise at this stage.  However, every now and then something in my body says, "this chick has had it easy for a while now, lets turn the dial up to 10 and watch her dance", complete with evil chuckle and cat patting.  And considering I dance like Elaine Benes, that is not kind to anyone.

It's simply part of the joy of Bob.  Before Bob I'd be lucky to have the odd panadol now and then for eye strain headaches.  I'd never really experienced this kind of pain.  Each time I've brought it up to my neuro or cardio I get the same speech,

"We hear that from a lot of our Bob patients.  Unfortunately it's very hard to treat.  They should resolve when we get Bob under control". 

Bwahahahahaha.  Four years and a bazillion doctors visits later, and Bob hasn't changed one bit.  Somehow this does not fill me with hope that these phases of excruciating noggin pain will ever disappear.

I will admit that I'm my own worst enemy.  If I finally manage to take the edge off the pain and can open my eyes without whimpering, I try to catch up on all the stuff I couldn't do on the days I was stuck in my darkened bat cave.  Which of course means that it comes back with a vengeance.  I know this logically, I do it all the time.  Essentially, I am the dumb rat that keeps pressing the lever with the zapper, rather than the one that gives me intermittent food rewards.

Some days it's worth it.  Catching up with a friend for coffee and a laugh, is better than any little pill for maintaining sanity.  It is most definitely worth the pain that you know will follow.  Doing the shopping, leaving your trolley in the middle of the supermarket to run to the disgusting public loo to barf, not so much.  Though, scaring the crapper out of the screaming little brat in the checkout with your evil, barf face, is priceless. Unfortunately, a family doesn't stop just because you have a vice attached to your head.  You have to battle through, suck down the pain meds, do the basics and just be resigned to collapsing into a pain induced coma after.

Below is the best ever pain chart from Hyperbole and a Half. I wish I had this for my patients when I was back in the working world.


0:  Hi.  I am not experiencing any pain at all.  I don't know why I'm even here.
1:  I am completely unsure whether I am experiencing pain or itching or maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth.
2:  I probably just need a Band Aid.
3:  This is distressing.  I don't want this to be happening to me at all.
4:  My pain is not f**king around.
5:  Why is this happening to me??
6:  Ow.  Okay, my pain is super legit now.
7:  I see Jesus coming for me and I'm scared.   
8:  I am experiencing a disturbing amount of pain.  I might actually be dying.  Please help.
9:  I am almost definitely dying.
10:  I am actively being mauled by a bear.
11: Blood is going to explode out of my face at any moment.
Too Serious For Numbers:  You probably have ebola.  It appears that you may also be suffering from Stigmata and/or pinkeye.

For the full article click here.

Man, I wish I'd thought that up.  That is truly brilliant.

Now I am in the post-OMFG pain stage.  Now it's normal headache, fatigue and weakness.  I'm pretty certain someone snuck into my bedroom in the middle of the night, sucked out all my innards and replaced them with cotton wool and old marshmellows.  Stroke face is back, as are those damn walls and door jams that jump out at you. 

I will say I have slept a lot over the past few days.  Sure it maybe partly passing out from fatigue and pain, but it's sleep none the less and I'll take that at this point.  Makes for a moments respite from fully turning into a creature of the night.  Though if I could get Kate Beckinsale's body from Underworld, it may be worth the whole move to a nocturnal lifestyle.  Not sure I'd fancy all that tight leather though, that's gotta get a bit whiffy after a while.  All this cavorting with my pillow has left me with joints that ache like a bitch and muscles that feel like I have run a marathon.  I am attempting to find my happy Zen-filled place through yoga.  Though given my present level of whimpering it may be a while yet. 

Actually, I think I should make an effort to re-establish tequilas good name and crank up some margaritas, purely for medicinal purposes of course.  I did hear somewhere that a salt rimmed glass of goodness was a sure fire way to find the key to my happy place, or anyone's happy place, for that matter.  Besides if my migraine comes back I'll have at least got there via the best route possible.

The knackered Michelle :)

In my whole quest to find my happy place I give you one of my favs Good Fortune, PJ Harvey, (2000)


  1. You know I had several eye poker headaches myself this past few days. I put it down to the low pressure thunderstorms we've had here but I get them a fair bit, particularly if I didn't sleep well or long enough, or if I sleep TOO long (ha, like THAT ever happens). I thought they were sinus related for a long time but I take meds for that now and I still get the headaches so I figure maybe I'm developing migraines. Stabbing eye headaches. Nearly always on the right, occasionally on the left and regular over the counter pain pills do nothing to help. So I sympathize with you for sure. And you're right, at least have a nice reason to have a headache like a good hard margarita hangover. :)

    Talking of which, I just happen to have some of my trashy Recession margaritas left in the freezer. Go me!

    Feel better.

  2. hope the headaches ease soon. i think im coming out in sympathy with you, because for two weeks now mine have decided to stay with me for a while. at times i have a disco going on in my left eye, white flashing lights, nice. nothing seems to touch the pain. x

  3. love that song! When i don't have such bad headaches or sensitivity to noise that i can't listen to music at all, that is...

  4. I can't even talk about the rest of the post because AH MAH GAH PJ HARVEY!!! Like I needed to fall more in love with you. NOW. Can I tell you that I saw her perform at Hammerstein Ballroom a few years ago and she was wearing silver glitter stilettos? And then I licked her. (OK fine the last part was a lie but the rest was 100% true.)

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE PJ!!! espesh good fortune!!!

  6. Mercy, I just laughed soooooooo hard. "Migraine barbie" and that CHART!!!!!! It's all so freaking funny and so true. I also wanted to cry reading it. Like the laughing/crying ugly cry. My heart both laughs and aches with you, my friend. You have been through so much. I know prayers may not make you want to do the cha-cha. But I think I know you well enough to know that you won't mind, as someone who has played with migraine barbie, if I say one for you now and then. Cause in my heart, I know that you need some relief. Cause Bob just blows.

    However, that chart is funniest thing I've ever seen. Can't stop laughing.


  7. hi! im really loving your blog! the memory stuff def is a me too!!! but i also suffer from horrible migraines. One thing I suggest that has helped for me and may be possible if your ok with taking medication is topimax or the generic topiramate.

    I have P.O.T.S. and was getting major headaches at college and my dr put me on the above med. its tech for treating seizures but it also helps to keep migraines from happening. i still get them on occasion but they def have improved significantly. I hope this may be of some help to you!
    Thank you for your blog!

  8. Brenna - thanks for the tip, migraines suck. Though I have been super lucky since my jugular angioplasty I have been migraine free for almost 2 months now (will now run and touch wood), which is a record since I became ill. Some minor headaches but that's all. I hope they never come back, though at least I know I have a solution of sorts now as unpleasant as the procedure is. Really glad the topimax has helped you.

  9. OMG love the pain chart! I do believe the doctors are right about getting Bob under control and the headaches will go away. When Bob is having a temper tantrum migraines are really bad, doc adjusts meds and migraines go away. Unfortunately for most finding the right meds is almost impossible. I hope your docs figure this out.

  10. I just had to comment here.... I love that chart and am going to be handing it out to all my family.... mummy has a 7 now and needs to go lie down. Get her an icepack and leave her alone, ok!?!! But seriously, I feel your frustration at the brain that is constantly trying to escape through a random eye-socket.


All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.