20 September 2006


Last Thursday I developed a little headache. It was nothing major, just a little pressure behind the eyes, the sort of headache I get once in a while and treat with Excedrin. Which is what I did.

Friday the headache was still there. And Saturday. And so on and so forth. It's not a migraine, not the worst headache I've had, but it won't go away. It's at the top of my head, and behind my eyes. It's especially bad at work, because I sit around staring at computer screens all day. I have to take frequent breaks. I can't make it go away, not with Excedrin, not with ibuprofen, not with Tylenol.

Tuesday I went to the clinic. I've had a headache for five days, I said. They checked my blood pressure. They asked if I was experiencing any symptoms that might indicate a sinus infection, but the headache is the only thing I have. The doctor came in and gave me a neurological exam and shone a light into my eyes.

I was prescribed a migraine medication, Imitrex. (Not to be confused with Initech.) Take four now, I was told, and four more in two hours, and the tomorrow morning if you feel the headache coming back take four more.

I went back to my clu. Because I was prescribed a malaria medication that is specifically discouraged for people with my medical history, I've taken to reading the little booklet that comes with any drug I'm prescribed before I take it.

The booklet says, take one pill. If, two hours later, you still have headache symptoms, take a second pill. Do not take a second pill until at least two hours have elapsed. Under no circumstances should you take more than eight pills within 24 hours.

If I had followed the doctor's directions, I'd have taken twelve pills within 24 hours, and four within two hours. I decided I'd rather follow the instructions.

The pills didn't do anything. It turns out that Imitrex works mainly by regulatin serotonin levels in the brain; erratic serotonin release seems to be a major contributing factor in migraine headaches. But I don't have a migraine. My serotonin levels are not likely to be erratic at present, which means Imitrex is probably not doing much of anything. I could take more of them, I suppose, and see what happens, but this seems profoundly idiotic.

I'd take a day off if I could, but with recent personnel changes we have just enough people on staff to prevent anyone working a 12-hour day—and this job is boring enough for 8 hours. Besides, having recently changed shifts (on Tuesday I started working mornings), my sleep schedule is all messed up and I don't know whether I'd be able to sleep or do anything meaningful if I did take a day off.

So, I have a headache. I wish I knew what to do.


Rambling Speech said...

I asked dad the pharmacist- he said follow the packaging. Do NOT take 4 at a time. And tell that doctor he has it wrong- someone needs to. Check the dosage- just in case they are quoting a larger dosage in the instructions (i.e., "take 1 pill (400mg)" verses "take 4 pills (100mg each)".

I'm assuming you've tried the warm shower and warm wet compresses on your head. That usually kills my migraine. The more hot the better- i usually end up with a red forehead from the heat.

Dad also says, just in case, put a swipe of analgesic balm (ben gay, tiger balm, etc) on your upper lip-- just in case it's a sinus thing.

Any sensitivity to light? Nausea? Dizzyness? Are you still on your sleep meds? Check the side effects of all other meds you are on. See if any say "headache".

Go immediately to doctor if you have a sudden increase in symptoms, dizziness, falls, or disorientation. 'kay? John's expecting you to usher at his wedding so no funny business. Got it?

Good luck.

momagain said...

Any chance you could be dehydrated? Every time I ended up in the hospital with pre-term labor, they said I was dehydrated. I think it can happen fairly easily, and I've heard it can cause headaches, too.

Please keep us updated; you've got us all worried.

tyler said...

Almost certainly it does nothing, but amazingly, I have had it work on a number of occasions.

With the thumb and middle finger of one hand, preferably your strongest, reach over and pinch the web between your thumb and index finger of the opposite hand where the muscle starts. If it hurts like hell, then you're doing it right. Squeese that as hard as you can for 30 seconds, and then release. Wait for 10 minutes and try again if your headache is still there.

I've had it work for minor migranes, hangover headaches, and random just headaches. It leaves you with a hand that hurts, but Advil fixes that one. Something about pain replacement therapy and pressure points.

Like I said, it's hokey, but I've had it work. And it doesn't require pills.

Hope you feel better man.

Anonymous said...

Head On...Apply directly to the forehead

Head On...Apply directly to the forehead

Head On...Apply directly to the forehead

Anonymous said...

I'm very glad you read the booklet! Hopefully RS's or Ty's advice will help with your headache.

And whoever anoynmous is, they deserve a headache for their last comment. :)

Melinda (momagain) said...

Oh Matt, I have to confess...I am the horrible person who posted the "Head On..." comment. I don't know what came over me. I hate that commercial, and yet I couldn't seem to stop myself from typing it...

Hope you're feeling better soon.