A Pounding Headache

man with a headache

I had plans to email my newsletter subscribers yesterday. Unfortunately, I had a migraine that knocked me off my game. The headache started Sunday morning, came in waves throughout the day, and was still with me the next morning. It stayed in full force until I went to bed on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m., sleeping for almost ten hours. The migraine broke during the night.

If you’ve never experienced a migraine, you’re lucky. It feels like a vise compressing around my head. I get sensitive to noise and light. Nausea often accompanies these attacks. My brain feels sluggish, as if I’m thinking through mud. Sleeping with a migraine is not restful; I wake tired and wrung out.

My migraines first appeared when I was in eighth grade. That one hurt so badly I threw up. I don’t remember having a headache before then. My parents took me to the doctor’s office where I went through a battery of tests. In the end, it was determined I had a migraine.

Since then, they’ve plagued me on and off. There’s no single trigger. I thought it might be stress, maybe dehydration, perhaps too much sun. However, migraines can appear in any season, for any reason. They even hit while I’m having fun. Talk about buzzkill.

Once, I experienced a tingling on the left side of my face. That sensation ran down through my right arm. I left work and went home, only to be told by a family member that I needed to go immediately to the hospital.

In the emergency room, I explained what I was experiencing. The nurses rushed me in, past all the others waiting to be seen. They thought I was having a stroke. The hospital team ran a slew of tests before deciding it was essentially a super migraine, the worst I’d ever experienced in my life.

I’ve taken a variety of medications to combat headaches. The early ones were reactive—get a migraine, take a pill. For the past decade, I’ve taken a proactive prescription—take a pill daily. This regular prescription didn’t stop the migraines, though. It only dulled them.

Recently, I cycled off the daily medication because of worries about some side effects. Now, the migraines are back in full force and making up for the years of reduced attacks.

I’ve worked through the blistering headaches, including while I was with the police department. Dealing with obstinate criminals while suffering a migraine was a special kind of hell. Headaches suck while writing, too. It’s hard to be creative while a vise clamps down on one’s brain. I still try, but those days aren’t always my best.

In moments when I’m feeling low, I think about a quote from Rocky Balboa.

“…it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

There’s more to that quote, but it’s that section that always hits home. Pretty brilliant advice.


BTW, Rocky (the first movie) is my all-time favorite. You can read how I finally got my girlfriend to watch it with me by checking out this post - A Bloodsucking Deal.

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