Saturday, July 9, 2011

Headache vs. Migraine

My migraines have been bad lately. Migraines, not headaches (although headaches have been bad too). I had to switch my work days last week and today I didn't make it into work until 11 a.m. Luckily I only work 20 hours a week. If you have migraines, you know what they're like. They get in the way of life. But for those of you who read or stumbled upon this blog who have never had one, I thought I'd share a taste of how they differ from typical headaches, in timeline format based on my current migraine.

 Photo credits: Tibo (headache car); Icarus Kuwait (migraine car)

My nearly every-day headache: I start to feel head pain. I begin to assess the pain and decide whether or not I should take drugs.
My current migraine: Yesterday I have general headache pain and take GelStat earlier in the evening (I ordered a bunch of this online to give it another try). Last night I'm watching TV. I get up from the couch and my head goes BOOM BOOM. I say, "oh SHIT." I've been good about cursing lately, so this is a bad sign. I make some ginger tea to help my nausea, put an ice bag on my head, and then decide to try and sleep it off. I wonder what could have triggered it - storms, running, yoga, chewing tough steak, hormone issues from the cramping I've been having, a combination...

Headache: I sleep like a log.
Migraine: I wake up on and off due to the pain, sometimes moaning. The pain pulses with my heartbeat. Every time my husband moves in bed, even slightly, my head throbs. My soft pillow hurts.

Headache: I take 2 Aleve and go about my day.
Migraine: I wake up early and get some applesauce so I can take meds. It's an unopened jar and normally I'm a machine when it comes to opening jars, but when I strain my head throbs so I wait for my husband to get out of the shower so he can open it for me. I try eating a rice cake in the meantime but the chewing motion hurts my head too bad. I take 2 Butalbital, wait for it to kick in (which means the dizziness begins), take a a quick nap, and start getting ready for work. I make appointments for next week with my gyno and neuro (shocking that she could get me in so soon) because this is getting ridiculous. Then I tell my boss I'll be late. I'm lucky - he's always been understanding about my health.

Headache: Generally the Aleve works. If not I'll suffer through work and nap when I get home.
Migraine: My head starts to throb again every time I get up at work so I have to take 2 more Butalbital and drink a cup of caffeinated coffee. I have a meeting with my boss and stumble through the agenda, pausing and using the wrong words a lot - gotta love migraine brain. I work until the dizziness wears off so I can drive home. I'm still a little dizzy though.

Headache: I take a short nap and usually it eliminates the pain.
Migraine: I nap about 4 hours and wake up with a throbbing head again. I take two more Butalbital with dinner, along with ginger tea and my ice bag. This the the first time I've taken the maximum daily dose, and that makes me nervous.

Right now, I'm at the dizzy stage again. It's pretty much a guarantee that the head pain will start again soon, but by that time I plan to be in bed asleep for the night. I'm praying that the migraine doesn't last long and I wake up with a pain-free head, but my migraines usually last at least two days.

I'm hoping my doctors can help next week. My Ketolorac has expired (and I'm supposed to limit it to twice a month anyway), so for now my Butalbital is my strongest med and it's failing me. I'm starting to feel desperate, and that's never a good feeling. But I know a lot of you can relate, sadly.

Note: I'm not trying to belittle headaches in any way. They suck, too; especially the chronic ones, which wear you down over time.