My Story

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Posted by AnotherTodd ( on November 11, 2000 at 12:01:02:

Here it goes... I just found this site, thanks to whoever created it.

I started getting my headaches when I was about 17, I thought I was going to die. The pain hit in the middle of the night, behind my right eye... always the right. I tried asprin or tylenol, it did nothing. I was already in to drinking, smoking, and drugs, so I had no problem checking out the ole medicine cabinet for something with a little more punch to it. I found my mom's demerol... it didn't take the pain away, but it took the edge off, and I didn't care quite so much that my head felt like it was exploding.

My first trip to the doctor was a couple weeks later: I was fortunate in that this doc knew about clusters, I was his first patient he had seen with them though. (This was fifteen years ago) He reassured me that I didn't have a brain tumor, which lessened my stress and axiety during the attacks. He tried some different meds... a muscle relaxant, darvocet, prednisone. Some things worked for a while, some not at all. The prednisone seemed to work while I was on it, but as soon as I came off, the hell returned. I did develop quite a liking for the opiates though... this led to a whole new kind of hell later in my life. Eventually, I got put on amitriptyline (?sp). The good doc told me it may take 3-4 weeks to kick in, so to be patient. I've often wondered whether it was the power of suggestion, but three weeks to the day, my headaches ceased. I remeianed on the Elavil (amitriptyline) for about 6 months, no headaches. I went off, and within a few weeks they returned. Back on the Elavil, and in just two weeks, they ceased. I thought maybe I was just chasing the cycles, so when they ceased, I quite the Elavil again. They returned, back on the Elavil, and basically stayed on it, headache free for probably five years.

To condense: Went to school, became an EMT-Basic, worked on the ambulance, became a paramedic, headaches returned, discovered (somehow) the hyperventilating with 100% O2 through a non-rebreathing mask ceased the pain very quickly... upped the Elavil dosage, headaches continued to break through. Became a Paramedic Supervisor, placed in charge of narcotics... began shooting up morphine.... worked really REALLY really well, continued to shoot up morphine regardless of headache status. Got hooked on morphine... turned self in prior to getting caught... lost job, new job not quite so hot, tried theory of "cocaine should work"... worked really really well, lots and lots of cocaine, went to treatment. In and out of treatment... went to work in hospital... really really stupid. Found new ways of getting morphine, got busted.

Anyway, I went through a very good treatment program, and quit using my headaches as an excuse to use drugs I had no business of messing around with. (This is in NO WAY a judgement against anything that works for ANYBODY else... I just have no business doing mind altering chemicals) I had been headache free for 14 months (the length of my sobriety incidentally) but they just returned. I have been pulling my hair out (literally) trying to figure out why they came back, and I'm grateful I found this site.

It never fails, I always forget how insanely intense the pain is when I'm between cycles. My current ritual is: Wake up between 1:30 and 3:00 AM, curse a little, hope that it isn't going to be a bad one (denial) get downstairs, pop aspirin and tylenol, while coffee is brewing... slam down a cup of coffee as quickly as possible, and sit, stand, pace and wait. Rub the ole temple, breathe deeply, and get through it. So far, this time, I haven't begun to pound my head, or roll around, primarily because it seems the headaches punish me for such an action. I just get through, hoping I'm not going to die or go insane because of the pain. When it subsides, I begrudgingly go back to sleep, knowing full well that I'll be up within an hour and a half, repeating my ritual. Finally, I get to work (I do computers now) suffer though at least one more in my office, and try to carry on with my life as normally as possible.

Todd (in Denver)

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