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Posted by Ted ( on October 30, 2000 at 23:47:45:

First stage: I’m talking to someone about politics or just shooting the shit about nothing with someone. We go on for
half-an-hour and I am totally distracted to the reality of what is always lurking behind the scenes for me. The words
“cluster headache” pop into my head and disappear. I keep talking pretending that never happened and try and block
out those ugly words. We keep talking/debating, whatever. 15 minutes go by and the words return. I feel a knot in my
stomach and try and move on and forget it. Another minute goes by and “cluster headache” just pops into my head
again. I know what’s coming but try and remain in denial. I try and convince myself that it is such a major part of my
life that it’s my subconcious just kicking in but nothing else is. I believe this on one level but notice my left leg is
now both shaking and pushing up and down swiftly from anxiety. As if a child’s grandfather’s leg was giving a race
horse ride.
Stage two: I can’t see it and am sure no one else can see it but my right eye feels swollen or drooping or something.
“It’s all in your mind. This isn’t about to happen.” I tell myself. My other leg starts up. Both going quickly but not as
fast as they have in the past. I start to accept that it’s coming on. It will be knocking on my head soon. But I convince
myself that I will keep it low, or even at bay, since my legs are moving quickly by themselves. I am releasing any
tension I have in me and will do better very soon. What timing to think that. A minor twinge appears. A slight pain
flushes my eye and leaves. Both my legs are now bouncing like strobe lights. “That’s it” I tell myself. It’s over now.
It was only just a reminder and you are OK now. Thank God for that. I sat there scared of it going deep. But now I’m
feeling better already. It is over and I didn’t have to endure much. I get back to the conversation and explain that I
was lost in thought and apologize for the short pause I took in conversing. I sit there talking again and laughing. All
is well. A few minutes later, WHACK! My eyes show the panic. I know I can’t pretend nothing is there. Before I can
process that “WHACK!” again.
Stage three: Oh my God it’s here. WHACK! Please le... “WHACK!” let me ge...”WHACK!” let me get to my p...
“WHACK!” Portable. I make it to the car and crank it up. By now it’s no longer hitting me repeatedly but is
constant. It’s as if I got that last WHACK with an aluminum baseball bat and got stuck in the time loop of when it
contacted my head. There is no help. It keeps on going. I live a mile away and know I can make it home squinting the
one eye I can keep open. I make it home. The portable didn’t touch it, once again.
Stage four: I get to my stationary tank as swiftly as I can. Tears running out of my right eye and pain at what I think
is a 10. It’s really an 8. I realize this while I put on my stationary tank mask and suck in the O2. That device has
been telling me “I’ll help you sometimes. But no matter whether I do or not, you are going to have the pain spiked
higher for at least 5 minutes. If I refuse to help you, it’s going to be spiked the entire time. Care to still gamble with
me? I throw the mask on and beg for mercy. I call out for someone to find me and just help me somehow. Anyone.
Please do anything. Sweat is pouring off my body even though my furnace shut down and it’s about 45 degrees
inside and my fan is blowing on high for me.
Stage 5: It starts strobing again. This is nice. I’m getting split seconds of relief. That is such a beautiful thing. A
minute later I am no longer sweating and actually need a blanket or 3 thrown on me because I’m cold as hell
suddenly. The pain starts to drop and I can open my eyes again. Within 5 minutes I wish I was still talking to who I
was talking with because I have so much energy and want to get back in the debate and good-humoredly tease
everyone who disagrees with me. I can’t. I had my hour away from home. If I go out again it’ll all happen again.

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