Friday, September 7, 2007

There's a reptile in my brain

Headaches suck. And Migraine Headaches (yes, Migraine with a capital "M") suck most of all.

I've been cursed with Migraines all of my life. They run in my family. I can usually tell when one is coming on a couple days in advance, dizziness, intermittent blurred vision and light sensitivity, bouts of nausea, and other less-identifiable signs, such as vague depression. Migraines affect the dopamine balance of my brain chemistry which can make me even more irritable than usual (this may be difficult for people to detect, as I am a pretty irritable guy even when I'm not getting a headache). When it finally hits, the pain is localized behind my left eye and feels exactly as if there is a large and malignant reptile trying to push it's way out through my eyes, I picture the creature as gray and scaly, with large armored plates on its back and evil red eyes. The pain is not so much sharp and piercing as it is pervasive and relentless. There are days, such as this one, where I swear I can actually hear the bones of my skull creaking at the seams from the pressure inside. It's a little distracting.

Over the years I have heard every cockamamie crackpot theory regarding Migraines, and the care and feeding thereof. Mostly from doctors. I have had every kind of shot, pill, inhaler, steroid, and snakeoil in an attempt to slay the beast. I've had enough x-rays and MRI's of the inside of my head that I should glow in the dark. I've changed diet, and avoided the things that are supposed to be triggers. Sometimes chocolate gives me a headache, and sometimes it doesn't, sometimes it cures it. Tomato sauce almost always makes me sick, but not every time. Nothing works consistently, not even morphine. Over-the-counter Excedrin is about the only thing that helps reasonably reliably, I think it's the caffeine. Which is my drug of choice this morning - 3 Excedrine Migraine chased down with a Venti Caramel Machiato from Starbucks. Can't hurt.


  1. It's a little freaky that you describe my migraine history so accurately. Mine kept getting worse, to the tune of 1-2 a week that lasted several a couple days at a whack.

    Cutting out all MSG (hard as all get out, BTW) seemed to help, but after a month or so they started coming back. I'll be honest, there were times that walking into traffic seemed like sweet release.

    As it turns out, odd though it seems, my trigger was in fact my appendix. I kid you not. Apparently the toxins my appendix was releasing into my system triggered migraines. The MSG must have been the icing on the appendix cake for a while, but as it got worse, the headaches came back.

    It took 3 hospital visits before the doctor found my appendix to be bad. It was wrapped around my colon (yeah, great mental image), and didn't show up in blood tests, etc. Anyway, after the emergency surgery, my headaches coincidently didn't come back. It took a month or so for me to realize I was no longer getting migraines.

    I get them a couple times a year now, but that I can handle. Unless this happens...

    (Sorry for the long comment!)

  2. No worries on comment length, Shawn, I find that I enjoy what you have to say. Here, on the Whatever, and your own blog. Feel free to blather on here as much as you like.

    I get the cluster variant, and I don't get them nearly as much as I used to. Every couple of months nowadays. When I was a teenager I'd get them every week or so. They are not nearly as severe now either. So, you know, I can't complain, much. Don't think they have anything to do with my appendix, I had that removed fifteen years ago. It burst, when I was assigned to the Cruiser Ticonderoga, fortunately while in port Naples Italy. It's a long story but it involves me buck naked zoned on morphine wandering the halls of Capodochina Navy Hosptial followed by a LT holding the IV bag and yelling, a drunken surgeon, and a urinal. Maybe someday I'll do a post on it, or maybe it would be better left unsaid.

  3. I get all the symptoms of a migraine except for the actual headache part. Instead, the main problem for me is a black scintillating sciatoma in my right eye. I'm told this is because of pressure on the optic nerve. It's both unnerving and annoying.

    It got a lot better after I saw a chiropractor, who uncrooked my spine and suggested a bunch of exercises. I'm glad I won't have to try parting with my appendix as a cure.

    1. Thanks for this info. I get those too. I'll ask my chiro about it! You don't know how much this has helped me.

  4. Okay, so I know that this post is from years and years ago, but I just read it, so:

    1. Right there with ya on the Excederin Migraine. Works nearly always. Had a doctor (an MD, not the kind of doctor I am, who I hope would have had more sense) tell me once that if Excederin Migraine worked for me and Imitrex didn't, it couldn't be a migraine. Oh, REALLY? Were YOU in my head when I was having a migraine, with the patented Sparkly-vision and visual trailing and the bones of my threatening to split apart along the sutures? No? Then shut up. (Come to think, having someone that stupid in my head probably WOULD cause me to have a migraine, but evidently I have some other reason for them as well.)

    2. I know it's wrong, but I kind of want to hear the appendix story. That sounds like it would be just EXCELLENT. Sorry. I can't help it. Maybe it's a desire for revenge on my own apendix, which I still have but which gave me a lot of trouble one month several years ago. Maybe I just think you'd make the story hilarious and sooo satisfying to read.


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