Around a week ago NewEpicAuthor asked if I know what causes my headaches and I didn’t reply in comments because the answer requires a whole poast… well, a whole book actually.
First, let’s begin with the debate over whether it’s acceptable to call migraines “headaches.” Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t believe it causes funding for migraine research to dry up if we say “goddamn I have a headache” instead of “Jeeves, I do believe the Grey Poupon has triggered a megrim. Please bring the bag of frozen blueberries to the quiet room at once. And for God’s sake, stop blinking so loudly.” There is a definition for migraine, but symptoms vary among sufferers.
(Nothing is going to cause migraine research to end, btw. It’s one of the hottest markets for new drugs because so many people suffer with this pain. It’s one of the highest causes of days absent from work.)
Second, I’m one of the “lucky” migraineurs in that, while I get chronic headaches, my pain generally is controllable. I’ve had many classic killer migraines, where I’ve vomited, had to lie down in a dark room, was totally non-functional for 24 hours, etc., but that’s been relatively rare, TG. Maybe I’ve had a couple dozen of these over the past 40 years, but most of mine can be calmed with the Rx medications, or even sometimes with extra-strength Excedrin, if I take it soon enough. About half the time they can’t be knocked completely out, but at least they can be managed down.
Third, so what causes these things? Let’s try to sort this out, lol. I have constant low-level neck pain from some injury (another complicated question) that sometimes gets worse and triggers head pain. My entire neck gets very stiff and hurty for whatever random reason and the pain radiates up, particularly on the right side. Or I will have sinus pain in my face, right side, that can trigger a migraine. (If I have throbbing on the left side, that can indicate a killer migraine is coming.) When I say “trigger,” I mean the original pain is left untreated and gets slowly worse until my temple/eye begins to throb and I feel nauseated. Light and sound start to bother me a lot. I begin to believe that everyone exists simply to annoy the hell out of me. More than usual.
I have done a zillion standard things to try to deal with the neck and sinus pain, except for acupuncture. I know this poast will encourage people to comment with wacko stuff I haven’t tried, and I will do my best not to get unreasonably irritated. 🙄🙄🙄 You mean well and I lurve you.
That was just the beginning of my trigger list, the neck and sinus pain. We can label those things “stuff outside Paula’s control.” Because they are, at least for now. Let’s toss weather in there too. Yes, weather is a big trigger. What kind of weather, you ask. Lol, I reply… all of it! Rain is bad, especially pre-rain when the air pressure goes wonky. Bright sun is bad, obviously. Heat is yuck and so is cold. Windy is the worst, all that dirt and debris swirling in my face. Don’t I sound like Monk? 😀
What is in my control? Avoiding alcohol, smoke, perfume and other flowery scents (but flowers themselves are fine until they mold, at which point they must be dumped immediately), Doritos and other cheesy chips, cheesy popcorn (cheese is fine, just not whatever “cheese” they put in these things), etc.; avoiding loud, crowded places; getting enough regular sleep; not eating too much salt; not eating too little salt!; getting enough protein; staying hydrated, which is oddly difficult; avoiding anxiety-provoking situations, etc.
Am I bound to get a migraine if I slip up and, say, play board games until 2AM and get only four hours sleep one night? Well, no. Here’s the thing (hehe). There’s no guarantee on anything in migraine land. Expect the unexpected. I can do everything perfectly, avoid all triggers ~ have no life basically ~ and still end up with a 3-day migraine that requires Rx meds so I can go to work. But some other time, I can slide a bit on sleep, have a few sips (ahem) of wine, eat potato chips, listen to loud music, and be fine. Yet, if I repeat that two weeks later, I might LITERALLY DIE. You just can’t know. Mostly I play it safe to avoid extra pain because who likes pain? Okay, not this kind of pain.
Also, I have tinnitus, and occasional BPPV (vertigo), which may not be related to the megrims, but it makes my head more annoying to live with. And I suspect it is related ~ why wouldn’t all the things that are wrong inside my head somehow connect to all the otter things that are wrong? We’re talking about a lot of things! Just because no one has figured it out yet doesn’t make it not so. And another thing (prepping for Columbo), why is there no otter emoji?
Hey, I warned you this wouldn’t be pithy.