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Monday, October 25, 2010

Honey, I Have a Headache. No...Really.

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?



Fiona Moore said...

Fortunately I don't get bad headaches too often, because the tablets upset my stomach and leave me worse with IBS pains :\

Lori said...

Ugh. Funny you should post this Jodie, i have a cracker headache tonight, the first one I've had in ages. i think driving n the city did it to me ;)

river said...

I have had very stiff tight neck muscles most of my life. I'm not sure of the original cause, but I do tend to sit with hunched shoulders a lot, because it seemed to ease the neck pain. Now I have arthritis in my neck.
I get tension headaches from this, also from glare, and hayfever related throbbing headaches in my posterior sinuses. If I take panadol and codeine quickly enough and lie down, I'm usually okay, but If I don't, then I double up on the tablets and sleep it off for probably 8 hours.
What were the tablets you took, the over-the-counter ones that targeted muscle pain? Were they anti-inflammatories?

Jane said...

When I was 13, I got migraines about 3 times a week and missed A LOT of school as a result. I think they were caused by a mix of anxiety and also food (whenever I ate chocolate and something citrus-y in the same day - I still can't drink orange juice).

These days, I still get headaches, but not full on migraines thankfully. A few weeks ago, I got tension headaches in my neck and shoulders which, like you, would become so severe that I'd curl up in a ball, sweat and beg for pain killers.

I had a remedial massage two weeks ago which helped so much. I'm also trying to watch my posture, which helps. On hot days, I drink water like a fish, just so I can hopefully avoid the dreaded heat headache.


SeraphimSP said...

I've had 5 migraines in my life and I will never, ever forget the pain or how washed out I was by them for days after. My heartfelt sympathy Jodie. Headaches suck.

Aussie-waffler said...

I used to suffer from horrible migraines when I was a child, the throwing up need a dark cave to hide in variety. Thankfully I seem to have outgrown them and now only have regular, stock standard variety headaches which are much more manageable. Hope you're feeling much better today Jodie xx

Jacki said...

Oh, that must be hard. I'm lucky in that I rarely get anything beyond a run-of-the-mill headache when I haven't been drinking enough water. But this sounds pretty heavy going. Would having a regular massage help to ease your tension?

Naomi said...

I get migraines. Horrid, horrid things. I get them a few times a year, but have leant the warning signs so can usually get to them with medication before they get to me.
I have had two hit me at work in the past and spent the rest of the day in the staff room waiting to be collected. I can not drive when I have them.
I need dark. Total quiet. I can't eat. I can not move without pain, and talking? forget about it. The next day or two afterwards I feel groggy and exhausted.
The person who organises relief staff where I work has had a few phone calls from me that have me mutter migraine then hang up. every little thing is excruciating with a migraine.
Every now & then I read FB updates by people saying they have a migraine... ah news flash, if you really did you wouldn't have the capacity to type a status update... or to watch tv.... or to go out that night to the pub...

Hope you are feeling better now Jodie, Headaches suck.

samantha currie said...

You poor thing Jodie! That sounds terrible - it's so hard to deal with something debilitating like that on an ongoing basis, well done for being able to manage it so well!

and just cause you asked..... one night a few weeks after my second bubba was born my sight went funny, I tried to lay down but it just got worse and worse till I couldn't see properly at all, it was like a kaleidescope. I was really scared so the whole family traipsed to the late night dr (I couldn't drive myself so it was a family expedition!) The Doc said straight away that it was a migraine brought on by exhaustion. I was so embarrassed, going for something so simple but I'd never had one before and there was no headache! Went home lay down and the pain came eventually but thankfully not too bad and it hasn't happened since. I think it's a funny story in hindsight - part of my stupidity! lol

Sending positive thoughts for your physio and hope you feel better soon!

Thea Smith said...

Oh, how awful. I have had a few of those really bad ones but not for ages now. I've almost forgotten what it feels like it was so long ago. Mine were always brought on by stress and tension in my neck and shoulders.
Now I more often get stomach pain...I call it 'worry pain'.
Glad you don't get them so often now. xx

Bern said...

They suck. Nothing worse. I wonder how people who get constant migraines function.

I get a bad about once every six months. I can sometimes feel them coming but it's too late by the time I pop the panadol. I've just got to lie down and wait it out.