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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Empathizing with Zeus

I recall as a kid being first introduced to Greek and Roman mythology. One of the more memorable stories was about how Zeus had a headache; someone grabbed an ax and hit him in the head - splitting his skull - and out popped Minerva or someone.

I'm about ready to try that remedy. In the past month, I've had 4 major attacks. By major, I mean the type that is so debilitating, that you can't work, can't drive, can't think, can't do anything except lie in bed with a pillow over your head, or perhaps lie on the bathroom floor so that you are close to the toilet when the next wave of nausea hits.

This has been a way of life with me, but it hasn't always been this bad. When I was a little kid, I got nosebleeds. We're talking, all the adults panic and wonder whether to take you to the ER type of nosebleeds. Then, just before puberty, the nosebleeds went away and the headaches started. In fact, not long after I got married, I had one so bad that my then-husband took me to a minor emergency clinic, which mostly just netted me some suppositories which knocked me out cold. This was good, as I then felt no pain. (Some wicked dreams, but I've always had those, too.)

A couple of years later, I became pregnant with my first child. The one question I had of my doctor was, can I take my migraine medications? The answer was "No!", by the way. However, as it turned out, migraines had become a thing of the past. My kids were spaced fairly closely together, and I don't think I had a single headache ... until the youngest was about 3 or so. I did, however, revert to those God-awful nosebleeds during this time.

Alll good things come to an end, and so did my respite from migraines. However, in the years without them, medications had improved. Now I could take a pill and about half - later most - of the time, I could keep on with my day. Before this, I'd take a pill and go home to bed (or to barf, as the case might be.)

Recently, I hit menopause. About time, I thought! I figured this would be when the migraines went away again, and the nosebleeds returned. I was prepared, having learned better management of nosebleeds from having had kids in the house. I was wrong.

I as write this, it is about 4:30 in the morning. I felt good yesterday, until I drove home. By the time I came home and fed the pets, I could barely function. Finally, about 90 minutes after I got home, I crawled into bed and hibernated. About 4 hours ago, I woke up again, completely unable to sleep further.

All the remedies (and they are legion!) that I find online seem fairly useless. Either they are, "Go soak in a lavender-scented bathtub," or they are, "Order this product online and your problems will disappear!" Many of the recommendations directly contradict each other. For instance, "Take an Excedrin or drink a diet Coke" versus "Avoid caffeine, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors." Drink lots of water is a good suggestion, but I've been drinking enough to float away, and it hasn't helped. "Massage the area ..." versus "Massage will just inflame the area" are other suggestions I've found. Again, sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't. "This prescription worked wonders for me!" is great for whoever "me!" is, but that won't hold true for everyone.

So I am brought back to Zeus. I'm finished with my child-rearing days, but if a fully grown adult were to pop out of my head, it would be worth it if the headache were to disappear. Pressure on the area between thumb and forefinger hasn't helped, nor has "tinking happy tots", warming the hands, or applying head or cold to various areas around the head or neck.

As with hiccups, no one seems to know what actually causes a migraine. No one, therefore, really seems to know how to cure one. Everyone has theories, because everyone has seen at least one person with a headache (possibly themselves) which went away when some action was performed. However, the same action probably won't work for everyone, and odds are, it won't work every time for the one who swears by it. Maybe running head-long into a brick wall will help. It's about the only remedy I haven't tried, other than using that ax.