Brain Pain

I remember when I was very young, getting frequent ear infections. All the time. I’d wake up and feel vaguely sick, the side of my head would hurt, I’d have a fever and the sniffles, and we’d go to the doctor for some bubble gum pink amoxicillin and another admonition to jump up and down and clear my ears after swimming. They’d pass, I’d feel better, and everything was fine. One day, I woke up, and I could hear the air pump on my aquarium like it was a kettle drum. I looked over at the tank to see if something was wrong with it, and the light intensity from the lamp on top was so high that it felt like knives in my eyes, and made me instantly nauseous. I stayed home from school and about an hour later, I crawled on my hands and knees toward the bathroom, made it halfway there, then fell on the floor, vomited clear bile everywhere, and then slept in it for about an hour. That afternoon I felt completely fine. I think everyone assumed it was food poisoning.

Fast forward to Monday night. I was sitting down watching a movie, and I felt a headache starting. It had been about 36 hours since the last one. They come on quickly, and present with watering eyes, my nose either plugs or just one nostril plugs (the right one), and then the headache starts: an eye-socket-to-hairline swath of unrelenting ant-bites-inside-my-skull pain. Monday night I would have done anything to make it stop. I had my shoes on and my jacket on to go buy cigarettes on the off chance THAT would help. It was probably a 9 on my pain scale. I couldn’t sit down, I had to be moving, I was rubbing my head and neck and nothing was helping. I took a hot shower and laid down on the couch and finally all I could do was lay in bed until I fell into fitful sleep. Thursday morning, when I got to work, I had another one. Exactly the same, another 9. Eyes tearing, nose plugged. I’ve never had a headache as bad at work. And people were visibly concerned. It’s disconcerting when I can’t even concentrate on a sentence long enough to get from the start to the end of it. And I recognize the discomfort, the nausea, and the “like a storm clearing” speed at which the pain recedes from headaches of my youth.

I’ve been having these headaches basically daily (or multiple times daily) for a month now. I finally stopped just ignoring the “if you have a bunch of these they’re not migraines” paragraph at the end of every migraine description and clicked on a link to cluster headache. It’s… undeniably what I’m experiencing. There’s no cure, just prevention. So… I’m keeping a headache diary. Trying to track all the triggers which might be causing it (all of them, aside from cocaine, are basically in the running, since I don’t do that yak). I don’t really have much to say about this other than I hope it’s not a tumor (knocking on your mom).

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