Today was the first day in over a week that I woke up and didn’t wince.
For the last 8 days I’ve had a killer headache that just wouldn’t shift. A migraine-like nightmare that has made me sound sensitive, light-sensitive, heat sensitive, people sensitive and living sensitive.
It’s felt like a 100lb block is crushing down on my scalp, sharp spikes are stabbing into my eye sockets and a metal band is wrapped around my forehead – a metal band that some sadistic little bastard is screwing tighter and tighter into my temples every time I move.
This has made me feel nauseous, dizzy and as grumpy as hell. It’s hurt to look, think and move, and as a result of this, I haven’t been able to really do anything or go anywhere. I’ve mainly moped from room to room, moaning a lot and clutching my head. Writing anything was pretty much out of the question, as sitting in front of my computer screen was like staring at an eclipse with my eyelids taped open.
Every morning last week, I opened my eyes, reassessed the pain levels and thought ‘shit, here we go again, there’s another day ruined.’ When there’s no end in sight and the tablets aren’t even making a dent, 8 straight days of headache can seem like an eternity. That’s 192 hours, 11520 minutes or 691200 seconds of feeling like utter crap. For heaven’s sake, we’re told God created the entire universe in less time than that, including the 7th day when he sat back, relaxed and admired his work.
Sadly, I am all too familiar with the whole ‘headache’ scene. I spent a large chunk of my childhood experiencing the varied delights that a migraine has to offer: flashing lights, dancing black spots, exploding head, spinning rooms and wall-to-wall puking. Thankfully I rarely get a fully blown migraine these days, although they have been known to creep up on me in seconds if I do something foolhardy. Like, tilt my head back, for example. Lesson certainly learned that particular day: never attempt to paint a ceiling.
A trip to the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel a few years ago also proved rather pointless, when I realised I was unable to look up and see the paintings on the ceiling – the paintings being the very reason for the visit in the first place. Of course, by the time I’d walked a good 3 miles through museum’s long (and frankly boring) corridors to get to the chapel, my hips had long since given up on me and I had to limp into the room and have a sit-down. Adding insult to injury, after lining up to touch St. Peter’s foot in the Basilica, and putting in a request for a cure, my health has only gone from bad to worse. Seriously Pete, where’s the love?!
With Lupus, Sjogren’s, vertigo and a Chiari malformation all sticking the boot in, these days the headaches are pretty much part and parcel of my everyday life. I would, in fact, be more surprised if an entire week went by ‘headache free’. Keeping on top of this amount of pain requires the stashing of tablets in every pocket, bag, room and drawer in the house. I batch buy every week just to keep up with the demand. I’m pretty sure my local supermarket thinks I’m stocking up for one big Armageddon style hurrah.
Making life that little bit easier still, the listed side effects of both Azathioprine and hydroxychloroquine are… wait for it… headaches. Seriously people? Is there no break to be had here?
With Lupus being a disease that affects the nervous system, sufferers are statistically twice as likely to get these migraine-like headaches. Lupus headaches, they call them. Yes, someone obviously put a lot of time and effort into thinking up that name, didn’t they. Tension-types headaches are also more prevalent. I totally get that. Having Lupus definitely makes me grumpy and tense.
The Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) – a scoring system often used in Lupus research – describes a Lupus headache as a “severe, persistent headache; may be migrainous, but must be non-responsive to narcotic analgesia”. Narcotic analgesics, by the way, are drugs that ‘relieve pain, can cause numbness and induce a state of unconsciousness’. You’d think that unconsciousness would probably be enough to stop the pain, surely?
As ever, with such medical theories, opinions and statistics, there are ‘people’ who dispute the notion that people with Lupus could possibly suffer from a specific headache. Dare I suggest these non-believers don’t have Lupus, don’t get the headaches and don’t have the first bloody clue.
Try living inside my head for the last 8 days and just maybe they’d have a fresh perspective and a totally different viewpoint.