Monday, November 9, 2009

Headache Hindsight Meltdown

Disclaimer: I had brain fog while writing this post. Please excuse any rambling or incoherent sentences.

It's taken me a little more than a week, but I've mostly processed what happened to me the Sunday I arrived in California. (See The Worst Headache of My Life for background info.)

Immediately after the experience I went into some sort of denial, brushing off the headache as a one-time deal. It was just a really bad migraine. Nothing to worry about, right? However, as things began to sink in, I started to realize that what happened could have had a much more serious outcome.

Not to be dramatic, but having such a severe headache could have been a symptom of all sorts of horrific brain events that I'm not going to go into. All you have to do is google "worst headache of my life" and see all the gruesome possibilities. I am fortunate that my headache turned out not to be as a result of a more serious and more immediate problem. Of course, I did not know that at the time.

In hindsight, I realize that I should have called 911 and gone to the hospital. If my husband or anyone I knew were having such an incapacitating headache and were not able to move or think straight and started vomiting as I did, I would have called an ambulance without hesitation. Unfortunately, I was alone and not thinking well, so I did not make the best choice.

I got all this wonderful hindsight about last week's headache experience yesterday. Unfortunately, it took another migraine to knock sense into me. I started to get another bad headache as I was flying back home from California yesterday. By the time I collected my luggage and got to my car, my head was pounding and I was feeling nauseated. I immediately took medication for my headache.

My head started to feel better after about an hour and the pain never reached an intolerable level, but the experience scared me because it was so similar to the last time -- getting a headache while flying that only got worse after landing.

When I got home to my husband, Kenny, I started crying. All the stress of my experience and being away from home hit me at once. He held my hand and let me cry. I had a meltdown.

My husband insisted that I call the doctor an make an appointment to get checked out. Since it was a Sunday I couldn't call to make an appointment at that time, but Kenny wrote a reminder on a post-it note for me to call. I called today an got an appointment for next Monday.

I fly quite a bit and have not had problems in the past. However, I seem to have developed a headache problem related to flying. I have another flight tomorrow. This time my husband is coming with me. We are traveling to Washington, DC for our participation in the Georgetown CFS study.

I am excited about this trip because it means participating in real CFS research, but I'm nervous about the possibility of getting another major migraine after we land. On the upside, I will be with family. My husband is coming with me, and my parents live in Washington, DC.

Today's Activities: work. Today's Most Annoying Symptoms: headache, exhaustion, pain in right arm.

Mood (10 is best): 6
Energy (10 is best): 3
Physical Discomfort (10 is worst): 4


Sylvia said...

I'm sorry to hear about your second headache. I hope your next flights go better. I wonder if it has anything to do with unusually low cabin pressure/oxygen on that particular airline? I don't know if all airlines pressurize their cabins equally or what. I do know that they don't fully pressurize their cabins so you're not getting as much oxygen as on the ground. That's one reason I don't fly any more—I have enough problems getting oxygen to my brain and muscles at sea level, I'd hate to think what would happen at altitude.

cfswarrior said...

I too wondered about the effect of the pressurized cabins on airlines. I hope the flight to Georgetown occurs without any incidents. Good timing though-you can tell them about the headaches and see what they say.

Laurel said...

So sorry to hear of your horrible migraine. :( I'm glad your husband will be with you on your next trip, though hopefully it won't happen again! Thank you both for being participants in the Georgetown study!

Renee said...

Hi Alyson
Sorry to hear your headache returned but maybe in the long wrong you will be able to figure out how it is connected to flying? If you had problems with chemical sensitivities it would probably be the pesticide sprays they use on planes, etc. Getting worse after landing? hmmmmm I am sure you will be able to figure it all out eventually~ it is always such a puzzle to manage CFIDS/ME...hope this trip goes better.

alyson said...

Interestingly, I did not have a headache after my flight from Texas to DC, so maybe it's not an airplane-related thing...? I flew with the same airline I usually fly, so I can't imagine that they would be using different types of sprays or chemicals on this flight than the others.

I did mention my migraine of migraines to the doctors doing this research and they were very interested. One of the aspects of their research is studying the different types of headaches CFS patients experience.

I suppose this will all remain a mystery for a while. Althought I will be seeing my regular doctor soon to talk about the headaches.