Friday, February 27, 2009


1 : to pulsate or pound with abnormal force or rapidity

I get hormonal headaches every month and have for several years. Some are worse than others and some last longer than others. Yesterday I had one that was bad, but only about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, which is better than an 8 or a 9 which is not uncommon for me. Even better, it only lasted a day, which is a huge blessing since they sometimes run several days in a row.

When I have this type of headache, my head throbs with every breath and it feels like my brain is encased in a cloud of pain. The cloud of pain is bad enough in its own right. It doesn't just hover outside my brain, but seeps inside, making gears that normally click along painlessly grind to a halt and move creakingly when forced. I think slower on these days. It takes me a few seconds longer to process a simple request or respond when necessary. So I normally try to stay away from people as much as possible when I am feeling this way. Because people make you talk. And if the cloud of pain throbs when I'm alone and quiet, it roars when I am forced to talk.

Each word must first be painstakingly processed on those creaky gears inside the cloud of pain and then forced outside the cloud. Something about pushing that word from inside the cloud of pain to outside it intensifies the pain. I'm not exactly sure why, but I can tell you it is true. Talking, just normal conversation that people do everyday, is excruciating.

You may be wondering at this point if I try to tough these headaches out or if I take medication. I'm not hesitant to take medication when I'm feeling this way, but nothing really helps. I took both Advil and Aleve yesterday and while they may have decreased the intensity slightly, the cloud of pain did not truly clear my head until I awoke this morning. The only medication that has helped in the past was wearing an estrogen patch. Given the history of breast cancer in my family, it's probably better to suffer periodic headaches than to jolt my system with estrogen every month.

This morning when I checked my e-mail, I had a Goodreads update from a friend who is a fellow introvert. She is reading a book called The Introvert Advantage and it made me wonder how much of my experience of a headache is driven by my natural introversion. While the cloud of pain screams when I must go outside of myself, I wonder if an extrovert deals with the pain by pushing past it. Does my mind hold on to the pain because I am hardwired to be introspective, inward and a thinker? Do I cling to what my mind creates, even when it is pain? Does an extrovert manage to push past the pain or just force it to dissipate in a way I can not? I'm not sure, but I am thankful to be past this particular headache and hopeful that the next time I have one, it will be a day I can spend alone.


Variations On A Theme said...

First - how dreadful! So sorry!

Second - an an extrovert, I can tell you that being around people is often the best thing for me, because it makes me forget about the pain for a little while. Of course, I've never experienced a headache that intense, but when I had dreadful morning sickness with the kids, I just wanted to be around people, because I always felt better.

(David is an introvert, too, and I got him a black T-shirt with the word "Introvert" written in white letters, and while he liked it and thought it was funny, he couldn't wear it, because the word "introvert" was too large. I guess an introvert needs a smaller font.... :) )

wordygirl said...

I am so sorry to hear you suffer from hormonal headaches as mine have always been diagnosed as same. I think of myself as an extrovert and have tried all different techniques to "rise above them" and no surprise, talking (but have to have my eyes closed) does help me. Hope we can talk about this and maybe some of the things I've learned may help you the best way for you to get through them and maybe end them.

UKNat said...

I'm so, so sorry that you have hormonal headaches. I've been having them now that I am pregnant, and I can't imagine having to deal with them on a regular basis. I hope you find something that helps!