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Posted by dani ( on August 22, 2001 at 18:08:01:

first, my apologies for my verbosity. i need to talk.

seven years ago, during a very stressful period in my life following a violent personal trauma, i started getting these really weird pains in the side of my head, above my left ear, behind my eye. the pain was sharp, sudden, lasted less than 15 seconds, came without warning with no discernable pattern, and left the same way, leaving me totally painfree between stabs. it made my left eye twitch in my head and sometimes made my eye water.

at first it was irritating. then it got frustrating. then it got bad. then it got... there are no words. the stabs were very frequent when i finally called for help, coming maybe 15 seconds to a minute apart, and i couldn't help but scream every time it hit. by the time i called 911, i was pounding the side of my head with my fist and couldn't speak without screaming. the 911 operator thought i was being beaten, and the cops came in before the ambulance guys, to make sure the paramedics would be safe.

at the hospital, the doctor yelled at me for screaming and told me he'd seen people with shattered legs handle their pain better. he told me he was going to tie me down and sign me into a psych ward if he saw me hit myself again. he ordered a spinal tap... overwhelming terror that i'd get a stab while they were sticking that needle in my spine and i'd jerk because i wouldn't be able to help it, and paralyze myself for life. he finally loaded me full of morphine and sent me home, clearly disgusted with me.

over the next 6 months or so, the stabs came and went, sometimes as often as 100 times a day, but the level of pain lessened as time went by and one day i realized it hadn't happened to me in a number of weeks. i never went to another doctor about it, because it was clear to me that whatever was wrong was psychosomatic and there wasn't any treatment. i was a nutcase, pure and simple, and i was making my own life miserable by giving myself this awful pain. when i realized that it hadn't happened in a long time, i figured i was getting over the trauma of what had happened to me 6 weeks before these started, and i breathed a sigh of relief and moved on with my life.

five days ago, it started again. it hasn't made it to the level where i would rather be dead, but they're interfering with my life and i'm having to fight to keep myself from banging the side of my head with my fist when they happen. there hasn't been any awful trauma in my life. i decided to take a chance and go to a doctor and find out if maybe i had a brain tumor that just wasn't noticable 7 years ago... maybe whatever was wrong was actually *real*...

5 minutes into an interview with the physicians assistant in urgent care and she says, "you're the wrong gender and the wrong weight (i'm a short fat housewife), but you're the right age, and your symptoms are classic. this is cluster headaches. you'll need to see a neurologist. there's nothing i can do for you."

so i came home and cried and then i looked it up online and here you are. i'm not crazy. this isn't my fault. this really does hurt this bad. i'm not the only person who has ever had it. i'm lucky, with only two attacks in 7 years... it's bad but it could be so much worse. and she's wrong... there is treatment available. it might be weeks before my hmo lets me see a neurologist, but there is treatment. and if i don't kill myself, this won't kill me.

thank you thank you thank you


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