bad head

I know some people who have never had headaches or have them so rarely they are mystified when they occur.

I am not one of those people.

The first time I had a bad headache, which I now know was a migraine, was in my mid-twenties on my way to a 3 day knitting retreat. I spent maybe an hour knitting and the rest in bed.

I can recall headaches like a timeline. 4th of July in Chelan a few years ago. A bar Christmas party at the EMP. Lin’s wedding. Big chunks of time gone.

It feels like there is a burning icy hot poker in my left eye. My shoulders and neck are very tight and painful. My limbs seem to be in slow motion. I can do no work of any consequence. My eyeballs feel gritty. I feel like I could eat a cow and am bloated at the same time, yawning constantly. This would last two and a half days, like clockwork, and no amount of OTC drugs would make a dent. On the 3rd day, my head felt bruised.

Then a couple of years ago, my doctor gave me a miracle: Imitrex. I could take one pill and about half an hour later, the headache would be gone. Yes, it did make me feel a little wonky, but definitely an improvement over the bad head.

Now I take a generic form. Sometimes it takes a little longer, and sometimes there is a day or two of rebound headaches, but for the most part I can function. Some days, instead of an 8 on the headache scale, it’s mostly shoulders and neck and only a little in the head – I’ll call that a 5 – so I just suffer through it. If it’s mainly in the shoulders and neck, a little tiger balm lotion can help. Massages are good, but expensive even with insurance, so that’s not a regular thing.

Alcohol is a definite trigger, which means parties can be more trouble than they’re worth. Sometimes a big storm causes problems for a few days. Hormones can play a part, and stress.

Sadly, these things can be genetic. My son began getting up in the middle of the night and vomiting when he was about 5. He would throw up til there was literally nothing left for hours, and then fall asleep like the dead. He said his head hurt. Turns out he had what they call “chronic vomiting syndrome”, which is a form of stomach migraine that can occur in young boys – his seemed to be triggered by chocolate. He would have episodes every month or two at the beginning, but they have been more spread out – it’s been months now and he’s almost 12. It’s a good time when this happens while camping, let me tell you.

So if I look at you funny at a party or even go lay down in the middle of one, don’t take it personally. I’m just trying to keep my eyeball from popping out or catching on fire.


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