Sunday, September 6, 2009

head history

i am a chronic headache sufferer and have been for about 14 years. i go through phases where i don't have many headaches, and then phases where it seems like my head hurts ALL the time. some of the headaches are pretty dull and others are unbelievably debilitating. when i first noticed i was getting frequent headaches in 7th grade, my doctor told me they were probably tension headaches. then, a few years down the road, i started getting migraines. i saw neurologists but was never able to find any relief from them. there are times when i know i'm going to get a headache (if i eat a lot of chocolate or drink wine, and if the atmospheric pressure changes) but lots of times i get them for no reason at all. a couple of years ago i went to see a "headache and pain" specialist. after getting an MRI (something i've had done a million times over the years) he informed me that i have occipital neuralgia. so that explains why migraine treatments never really worked for me.

the headaches i had when i was younger probably were tension headaches, but when i was 14 i was in a car accident where i hit my head on the windshield. that most certainly caused the damage to my occipital nerve. several years later i was in another accident where the car i was riding in was rear-ended by someone driving about 70mph. i didn't hit my head that time but that accident mostly likely caused even more damage.

when i was 16 i had a seizure while waiting in line for the master blaster at schlitterbahn. i had never had a seizure before and went through several tests that summer to try to find a cause for it. we never found out what caused it and i haven't had one since then. i have, however, had at least two transient ischemic attacks. i also had some strange episode when i was in pre-school but i don't really know what that was. i actually have a vague recollection of that day but i have no idea what was happening to me.

so, my head is sort of a mystery. the diagnoses of occipital neuralgia was helpful but the treatments are awful. a cost/benefit analysis of the treatments led me to stop receiving them. and by cost, i mean, the amount of pain it caused me. it is an awful, awful experience. however, i've been having some really terrible headaches recently and i've considered starting the treatments again. ugh, i just don't know. i wish there was an easy solution to this condition that i've been suffering from for so many years.

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