On Saturday I found myself curled up in bed for half the day.
I went to the 8yo's cricket match in the morning, and it was hot there. The inbuilt car thermostat told me it was over thirty degrees. I think that may have been the reason I found myself in bed that afternoon. I ended up with a pounding headache - no doubt partly due to the heat, and partly due to turning my head to one side to talk to friends for most of the three hours I was there.
I've always suffered from headaches through back and neck pain, and sometimes heat (although, for years, I thought it was solely my neck that caused the headaches). When I was younger - first out in the workforce - I suffered them regularly. I think it was due to my workstation at the time, and as I learnt more about my posture, and how I should be sitting at my desk, the headaches diminished somewhat, but never completely left me all the time I was at work.
Sometimes, my headaches were (in fact, sometimes still are) excruciating. I remember when I first started dating my husband, he had no idea how painful my headaches were. When I asked him one night out at the pub if we could go home early due to my headache, he just assured me we would 'leave soon', and a couple of hours later - finally home in bed - my headache had escalated so much, it felt as though my head was going to explode with the pain. I was nauseous and had Hubby wiping my face with a cool, damp flannel whilst I waited in desperate hope for the headache tables to kick in. After that, whenever I mentioned to Hubby we had to leave somewhere due to an oncoming headache, he knew it was time to go.
It wasn't until the late 90s, years after that incident, I learnt that I needed more than paracetamol to help the pain. My pain was muscular, and I started taking over-the-counter headache tablets that targeted my muscle pain, and hence eased my pain more quickly.
At a friend's wedding in the summer of 2000, I ran around in the exceptionally strong heat that day, taking photos most of the afternoon. By early evening, I felt another of my headaches coming on. I had gotten used to carrying some headache medicine with me, but having used an evening bag I rarely took out that day, I had failed to transfer the pills in to it. The reception, not being at a hotel or similar venue, meant that I had little opportunity to try and obtain some headache tablets, and the nearest chemist was miles away. I walked around like some drug addict, asking people I knew - and some that I didn't - if they had anything I could take, and ended up empty handed. Hours later, when we finally arrived home (I just couldn't bare leaving my friend's big day any sooner than I did), my head was pounding so hard that I could barely make it up the stairs. Hubby had to help me up.
When I fell pregnant with the 8yo in 2001, I knew I couldn't take the same headache tablets. My Ob/Gyn assured me I could take paracetamol and paracetamol with codeine in it if need be, but I tried so hard to avoid it. Fortunately, being away from work meant that I stopped having so many of the headaches I had been suffering on a fairly regular basis. However, I do recall one particular evening trying to sit up attempting to will my pounding headache away - convinced that the paracetamol I had in the cupboard wouldn't work anyway - before finally giving in to taking the tablets and being surprised with the almost instant relief. (Later, my Ob/Gyn would assure me that I could take paracetamol every day for the rest of my life if I wanted to, and it would be ok. It was better for me and my baby to deal with the headache, than deal with the stress of having the headache.)
I know know what tends to cause my headaches:
- too much reading for an extended period of time - especially in bed (which to be honest, I don't get to do all that often these days, but happens when I read blogs for a couple of hours at a time);
- lying in an awkward position when I sleep (I like to be on my stomach, head turned to one side, one leg bent up - it's a killer for the back and neck);
- lifting the 3yo (which I don't do often these days - and never need to - but do occasionally just because I want to); and
- sitting with my shoulders hunched up (I'm not a very 'tense' person, but I do sometimes sit with my shoulders up - usually when I'm concerning myself over my to-do list, or watching the 3yo being a daredevil ;) ).
Fortunately, since having my kids, the headaches have become far less frequent. I've also become much better at reading the signs of when a headache is coming on: neck and back stiffness, and a dull thumping in the top of my head. I then know, once I start to feel more and more stiffness in my back and neck, that it's time to head back to physio.
After spending close to five hours in bed on Saturday afternoon (and I'm glad it was a day when Hubby was around to deal with the kids), I know I have to head back to physio again. I'll have two, maybe three sessions at most, and it will all be ok again for a while. That, and I'll have to be sure to sleep purely on my side, and leave the 3yo alone. ;)
How about you? Do you suffer from headaches or migraines? How often, and how do you cope?