Last weekend I woke The Headache from its slumber. I have not been able to put it back to sleep yet. The occipital stimulator helps, but nothing really works completely when The Headache starts to escalate. I'm trying a little stimulator vacation this evening as my head was getting over stimulated (you feel "sore" in the stimulation area especially after hours of running it at high levels; the only way I know to make it better is to turn the stimulator down where you barely feel it running).
I hope The Headache stays at its present level while I keep the stimulator turned down. I'm at about an eight out of ten on my pain scale; I can handle it up to a nine. My brain is fuzzy and foggy right now, not thinking right so I hope I spell everything correctly and include all the words I intend to write!
I'm not taking any pain medication at all this evening, even though The Belly is protesting. I have taken anti-nausea medication and antihistamines today, trying to manage the feelings of sea sickness, vertigo, and pain with non-narcotic solutions. I don't know how people who take narcotics daily for severe headaches do it. The headache gets really bad really quick and the narcotics don't really touch it and for me they seem to make it worse. Maybe its just the hemicrania continua, it's a bit of a strange duck in the chronic headache world...or maybe I'm just excessively sensitive to strong pain killers...
A recent article in About.com on hemicrania continua by Betsy Lee-Frye stated that
Hemicrania continua can be one of the most debilitating headache types experienced by migraine sufferers. The cause is unknown...I believe the writer misspoke about it being experienced by migraine sufferers, but maybe she meant that migraine sufferers can get HC. Hemicrania continua used to classified as a TAC (Trigimenal Autonomic Cephalgias) along with cluster headaches, not as a migraine disorder, and now is considered a primary headache disorder just like migraine and cluster headaches are. When I am in an emergency room and I describe HC for the nurses and doctors I describe it as a cross between a migraine and a cluster headache. The pain is more towards the cluster spectrum of pain (you can't sit still, you writhe in pain) and the swelling of the eye and runny nose are similar to cluster headaches, but the photophobia, and nausea, and unilateral presentation are more like migraines. For me, the cyclic nature of The Headache also makes one think of cluster headaches rather than migraines.
The article also states that exercise and alcohol consumption can make hemicrania worse, which has also been my experience. I have had one drank, a white wine spritzer, since The Headache began and I have not repeated any exposure to alcohol since. That night was not a pleasant experience and I ended up in an ER two days later - a very expensive glass of wine.
Ms. Lee-Frye also states there has been some evidence of a link between HC and brain stem lesions from a stroke. Nothing has shown up in any of the CT's or MRI's I have had, but I can't do the contrast so I suppose something could have been missed. I do think I would have known if I had had a stroke when this all started, and I am not sure what difference it would make if I did find some evidence of a lesion - there would be nothing they could do for it anyway.
The old "bad pain" at 2 AM business is starting up again, making it difficult to rest. I'm just being a whiney butt tonight. The stimulator has gotten me used to a relatively painfree life, at least compared to the last two years. I am just going to have to take some bad with the good, and know that life is better than it was, even if The Headache is not behaving itself.
Going to pack my head in ice, and put heating pads on my neck and shoulders and see if I can get my pain and blood pressure back under control. I'll be so elegant, with my blue ice pack on my head and two heating pads draped on my back.