What makes clusters UNIQUE?

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Posted by Carl D ( on February 04, 2000 at 08:50:09:

In Reply to: Weekend Topic begins! posted by Mrs. Holloman on February 04, 2000 at 07:37:23:

Okay, you know what migraines are, right? With a migraine you want to lie down in a dark room in total silence, your head pulsates, and you feel like if you move your head will explode. Usually you will put a damp washcloth on your forehead and try to sleep it off: A CLUSTER HEADACHE is the exact opposite.
You cannot sit still during a cluster. You cannot lie down because the pain is so INTENSE, it is comparable to sadistic torture.

It starts off as a dull pain in the eye or temple - sometimes in the top of the head between the eye and temple area, after the initial onset of this feeling - it gradually increases into a sharp, hot stabbing pain in the eye and temple, as if someone stuck a stick between the nerves and just started twisting. Within 5 to 10 minutes of onset, it hits full force and feels like someone is driving a dull butter knife into your head (dull because it would require more force and would face greater resistance.) At this time you may be fully aware of your surroundings, or you may become disoriented. The pain keeps building and building to the point you feel as though your head is being crushed. You will have tears streaming down your face, whether it be from the pain, or the force of the pressure on the nerve. Your eye can get blood-red, and you can feel the pain jolting in your temple, eye, upper jaw, sometimes the ear, the neck, or even the pain can linger into the shoulder - but the whole time the hardcore intensity is in its primary location, which can vary from person to person (some feel it strongest in thier eye, and it may feel as though someone is trying to pry out the eye, or the focal point may be the temple, in which case the butter knife keeps twisting and twisting.)

During the attack, the pain is so overbearing that a normally quiet person can begin to scream in agony, beat his head on the wall or floor, punch his head or punch anything near him. It will send a calm person into a fit of rage. During the peak of the pain, a person might vomit, pass out for a minute or two (but the pain re-awakens you quick), or even lose bodily functions. Sometimes you profusely sweat - other times you are amazed at the lack of it. Your pulse can decrease, while the blood pumps hard enough that you can hear your pulse or see it. When I reach this point, if I had a gun near me, I would stick it to my temple and pull the trigger; not to committ suicide but to MAKE IT STOP!
After anywhere from ten minutes to two hours of this intensity, the attack will end usually as it began: the pain slowly fades and within 5 to 10 minutes of the peaks end, you fade out of the pain. Alot of times the head will be tender to the touch for at least an hour or two after an attack - but in the case of someone(like myself) who gets hit on such a regular basis - the head stays tender and you develope 'sore spots.' When the attack is over, the person may appear as they did before the attack occured, and can now talk normal. But the after-effects are usually a dazed feeling, exhaustion as if you just lifted a car for an hour, and what I call post-attack-depression, which depending on your state of mind can last anywhere from five minutes after a single attack, to being chronically depressed due to the frequency of the attacks.

I have also experienced a strange sensation during attacks where my face, arms, chest and legs might become numb and tingly feeling. Sometimes it is light and sometimes it feels like a heavy blanket. I recently learned that this is the body going into shock!!! Even when the attack is over, this feeling may linger for an extra few minutes.

During an attack, you cannot be held responsible for what you may say or do, as the pain takes you over and transforms you. You may scream, cuss, throw objects, break stuff, pace, Or like I do most frequently - sit on the floor rocking back and forth trying to clamp off blood pressure in your neck while punching the floor.

Anyone who experiences this will agree that it is the most torturous pain any human being can handle. There is nothing in this world to appropriatly compare it to other than ritualist inhumane torture. You may be attacked upon attempting to sleep, or shortly after waking up - but you can be hit any time of day. One session of a CH attack is more pain than any one person can endure in a lifetime - however, a CH sufferer who is episodic will experience this several times a day for anywhere from four weeks up to eight months, but a chronic sufferer will go through this EVERYDAY without fail.

I can only speak from personal experience, but I would rather try to urinate a stream of baseballs or crap out a watermelon seven times a day than have one single CH attack.

But wait - - theres more....

When you go out of an episode and go into a remission period, you tend to forget the intensity until the next time the beast rears it's ugly head. Only the next cycle of attacks you go through is ten times stronger than the previous cycle. Thus, if a person has ten separate cycles - by the time he reaches the tenth cycle, the attacks are a hundred times worse than when they first began. The person may in effect lose everything that is important to him, as well as people who are close to that person, who just cant understand the type of pain being dealt with. After awhile, you take on the name FREEK because everyone thinks you have gone mad (or is that just me?)

Well, thats the best I can explain it in the foggy state my head is in after not getting but a few hours sleep for the week and none in the last couple of days, and getting hit like a junk car in a demolition derby.

Sorry this may have turned out to be such a long response, but I can find no way to briefly explain these $#@&ing things.

Hope your day is better than mine,

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