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Author: karedun Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 274  
Subject: Memoirs of a Headache Queen Date: 8/22/2000 3:12 PM
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I found this board by accident this morning, and have read the previous posts with interest. I remember having my first BAD headache when I was in second grade. When I think back on my grade school days, the first thing that comes to mind is walking home after school with a headache. Every day. By the time I was in junior high, some of the headaches were becoming full-blown migraines. My parents had me in to different doctors. My dad suffered from migraines and cluster headaches, and my mom's mother had migraines. Perfect scenario for hereditary migraines. Bayer aspirin took care of the pain for the regular headaches, but I had to suffer through the migraines. In high school, I became aware of a "special" headache two days before my period. This was in addition to the other headaches and migraines I was having on a regular basis. One of my high school memories is that of a sunny afternoon, and the officers of a club I was part of were having a planning meeting. We held the meeting seated on the floor of the girls bathroom because I had a splitting migraine and needed to be near the toilet because I was throwing up. I remember laying my head down on the tile floor of that bathroom, and it felt so good because it was cold. Bayer aspirin still worked as long as I took 3 tablets, and as long as it wasn't a migraine. The years went by, and the headaches were something I just lived with and accepted. Tylenol came on the market, which meant I now had a pain reliever that worked with just 2 tablets. For awhile, anyway. So I grew up having a headache more days than not. Any headache, no matter how minor, had the potential to become a migraine if I didn't catch it in time. That's just how it was. I didn't feel sorry for myself, I didn't whine about it, I just learned to deal with it and tried to find ways to make things easier. And here I am now, 44 years old, and virtually headache-free. I have learned a lot over the years about myself and my headaches, and I will share some thoughts here in the hopes that someone else may get some benefit from them. Many points have already been made in previous posts, and these are things that I KNOW FOR A FACT make a difference for me:

1. Drink lots of water all day long. I have felt an afternoon headache evaporate as soon as I drink a big glass of water. This is the first remedy my kids use to treat a headache, and they do so because they know firsthand that it works. We always keep a large water bottle in the car. My kids take water bottles to school every day.
2. Avoid cigarette smoke and smoky environments. One good thing about this, it kept me out of the bars during my college days!
3. Red wine. I find that red wine with a cork is not nearly as bad as a screw-top lid.
4. Eat healthy, keep away from too many pre-packaged foods. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sounds like some trite "Mom-ism", but trust me here. Also, do not go without eating.
5. Allergies play a big role. I take Claritin allergy tablets during the worst months, because I get headaches with my allergies, not watery eyes and runny nose.
6. Get enough sleep for your system. Don't worry about how much sleep your co-workers or your spouse needs. If you need more sleep than the average bear, get it.
7. Don't worry about things that you have no control over. If something stresses you out, change it. If you can't change it, accept it.
7. Caffeine. I drink two small cups of coffee every morning, and have no more caffeine the rest of the day. But I HAVE to have my morning caffeine. So I keep Vivarin in my purse for those rare days when we're out somewhere and coffee isn't readily available. I also keep Vivarin in my kitchen for those afternoons like Thanksgiving Day when my family is here from all over the country, I was up late the night before visiting with them, got up early that morning to get the turkey in the oven, there is no time for a nap, and now I'm worn out but still have to feed 20 people. Being worn out and stressed out separately would bring on a migraine for me, but being both was worse. One half of a caffeine tablet and I am a new woman. But remember, I am not addicted to afternoon caffeine. Just in the morning.
8. Chiropractic. Five years ago my husband (of 23 years now) told me what he wanted for his birthday: he wanted me to see his chiropractor/naturopath that he had been seeing for a sore back with wonderful results. I told him that there was nothing wrong with me, I was in excellent health. He said, "you choke down a handful of painkillers every day. That isn't healthy." So I went to his chiropractor to pacify him, not having any faith that it would help. It did. It has been and is the single most effective treatment for my headaches. This chiropractor did x-rays, and found that I have a congenital deformity (?)in my neck. One of the vertabrae is turned to the side and fused. I now go in every 8 weeks for a routine adjustment, and if I have to miss an appointment, I only remember to reschedule because I can feel the haze of a headache floating in. It's gone after he adjusts me. I had a partial hysterectomy two years ago. Coming out of the anesthetic, I could feel a migraine wating for me on the other side of consciousness. They brought me coffee, but I still started vomiting. They thought it was my reaction to the anesthetic, but I could tell that my neck was out of alignment. For three days, I had to have morphine for the pain - in my head, not from the surgery. The day after I was released from the hospital, my husband took me to the chiropractor who adjusted me. The headache was gone before I even left the room. The chiro explained something about the "atlas" and the "axis", and how this certain position almost always causes migraines with vomiting,
which was the condition I had when I originally came to him, but I now found myself in again because of the position my head was in during the surgery. I half-jokingly told him I'm going to have a medical alert bracelet made describing how to position my head if ever I can't speak up for myself. Two post-scripts about my chirpractor/naturopath. My daughter had just had her second migraine, so I took her in to see him. He showed me on her x-ray the same neck condition that I have. She doesn't have headaches any more since she started seeing him. (She also doesn't suffer from exercise-induced asthma any more, but that's another long story with a happy ending.) This guy believed that my gall bladder was acting up, and prescribed a "wood treatment". As I was swallowing the first dose of liquid, the headache I had at the time evaporated before I even straightened my head back up. I guess I'm trying to make the point that I started out having no confidence that a chiropractor could help me, and I have to admit I thought they were little more than quacks. But the fact is that he did help me, and I am a different person now that I'm out from under the near-constant pain of headaches. The one headache he could diagnose but never treat was the most painful - the raging 2-day migraine that I got during my period. But those headaches went away after my partial hysterectomy. I thought the ovaries were responsible for all the hormonal upheavals, but the removal of the uterus took care of my worst migraines.

To sum up, I still get headaches. From being out in the sun too long, or not drinking enough water. But they are nothing compared to what I lived with before. And they are very rare. I even get an occasional migraine, but they are usually hormonal. And these migraines don't last more than 4 hours. (Knock on wood!) So there you have it. My sympathy to all headache suffers. I hope something here will be of benefit to you.

~Karen
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