Jun 25, 2011

Head Pain

I think they started when I was 13 or so. That means I have been having these headaches for...what like 17 years now.

I have had a lot of migraines in my life. Different kinds, with different symptoms. Tension, traditional headaches, cluster. And I've seen every specialist in the book. Tried all the medications, the maintenance ones, the ones that you take when you feel one coming on, the ones you have when you've had one. I go to sleep with them, I wake up with them, I have them all day, I wake up at night with them. Sometimes, headaches last for days. I think the longest one was 6 days long. I tense my jaw and my shoulders constantly. I can't tell which comes first, clenching from pain, or the clenching caused the pain.

I've had great luck with chiropractic, and have an amazing one right now. Tammy has done wonderful things for me, and for my TMJD, and I owe her a great deal. Even with chiropractic work, I still have migraines. They're sort of never-ending. The only time in my life when I didn't have migraines is when I was pregnant. I didn't have any during that time at all. It was probably the most blissful time of my life.

It's always interesting to me when people I know have experienced migraines. We'll have these discussions about how when they get them they are out, the can't function, they have to be in a dark room with no noise, and can't imagine doing anything but that. Well, the answer is simple. If you have 3-5 headaches a week, sometimes lasting for days at a time, you can't live your life in a dark room. You learn how to manage and function and get through a day. I can go to class, go out to dinner with friends, have my daughter and play and laugh with her, and generally function mostly fine. I have had migraines during a good chunk of the birth's I have been at as a doula. It's just sorta always there, always......well in the back of my mind, so to speak, LOL!

It's an odd thing - chronic pain. I have been extremely lucky to have understanding friends and family. Sometimes I have to cancel plans if I can't get my feet underneath a hard migraine. I have been to the ER many times, and had to call out to work. I have complained to friends, whined at family members, and begged for neck massages from my ex-husband (not that I got many of those, lol!). I swear....the next Mr. Jackson will be a massage therapist.....

Oddly, while I think this sucks, and while I wish I didn't have migraines, it's really hard to feel like I can upset about it. There is something useful in having chronic pain. While it certainly isn't fun, it requires a certain amount of stamina to endure having a migraine for days at a time. And honestly, there are obviously people a lot worse off than I am. While migraines are no picnic, I am not going to die from them. They force me to take down time and just deal with them, which sometimes is exactly the mental break I need. Sometimes it's hard to find the positives, but honestly there truly are some.

The migraine I have this morning is purely a tension migraine. Jaws locked up, shoulders are scrunched up, temples pulsing, neck stiff as a board. Stress is a huge issue with tension headaches. I need to do more yoga or something ;)

Chronic pain is shitty. Migraines are shitty. They can make life shitty. Now excuse me while I go place a bag of peas on top of my head, shoulder, jaw and neck ;)


  1. Wow....this post sounds so much like me!! I have struggled with chronic migraines for 15 years or so, and spend many nights going to bed on a cold pack of peas. Like you, I've learned to function when I have to with a migraine, because I have no choice! I have two little ones, and am actively involved in other things that can't wait until I feel better!
    However, after years of going to doctors, specialists, etc, etc, etc...nothing ever helped...trips to the hospital before kids never even worked with three drugs in an IV. The only thing I have found that works is a very strict vegan diet with a lot of high raw foods, like salads, smoothies, etc. No dairy, NO WHEAT, no sugar, no caffeine...it's hard to stick to, but after years of struggling again I've just started with a strict diet.
    Migraines suck.

  2. I just don't know how you stick to that diet. ;) It's not that I wouldn't want to, but I am so weak willed when it comes to good food. Sigh. I am sure if I did, I could solve my own problems, and it's frustrating as all get out that I can't buckle down and do the 'easy' fix. Good luck Mama!

  3. i wish i actually stuck to the diet...it depends what week it is, but if I don't stick to it, I pay for it and quickly regret it!!