There was a time a number of years ago when I got a headache once or twice a week. It drove me nuts. The same throbbing headache, pounding away across the front of my head. I couldn’t figure out what was causing them. Then one night it dawned on me: spaghetti sauce. Yup, that was it. It was the spaghetti sauce I was using. I haven’t had one of those headaches since.
Now, whenever my family has pasta for dinner, we each have our own sort of sauce. NF is still partial to my old sauce, CF has her own weird stuff, and I’ve switched over to pesto, eschewing anything tomato-based entirely.
Which means that by and large the only headaches I’ve had ever since have been migraines. They’ve been the classic kind: the spooky aura of rippling lights, as if The Twilight Zone was descending on you, followed all too soon by every hair on one side of my head developing a very sharp barb on its submerged end, trying to rip itself free of my scalp. Not to be outdone, one eye decides it’s time to swap places with its unwilling neighbor, which sets off a rather nasty tug of war. And of course, there are those three little aptly named bones in my ear, the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, one of which is pounding the other while the third goads them on.
Migraine medication is great, but you can’t take it until you know you’re about to get a headache, so there’s always that breathless period between the aura and the medication kick-in when you tip-toe around terrified you’re about to get very snarly.
If you haven’t had a migraine, you might find it hard to imagine what this is like. Well, imagine a nail gun positioned next to your head, ready to bang away at your brain five times a second unless you stop breathing. Yeah, that’s about it.
Since I had the seizures last August, I have not been able to take migraine medication because of drug interactions. I’ve had to rely on Vicodin instead. With Vicodin, the idea is to swallow it quickly, run to a dark bedroom, shut your eyes and try to fall asleep right away. Oh, wait, that’s what you’re supposed to do with any migraine medication. What’s the difference?
Oh, yeah, Vicodin makes you sleepy. Cool. I’m ahead of the game! But does it cure migraines? Nope. Not for me.
At least it didn’t cure these headaches. That’s because they weren’t migraines.
I’d managed to convince myself they were migraines, even though I hadn’t seen the aura or gotten nauseated, because they were classically one-sided and my eye throbbed, and anyway they were the only kind of headache I’d gotten for years. I’d managed to just disregard the whole seizure thing entirely.
Fortunately my neurologist is smarter than I am. And wonderful. She recognized that the solution to the headaches was to ante up the anti-seizure medication.
So far, so good. I really do not like taking all this medication, believe me. But if you ask me to choose between taking anti-seizure headache-curing Topimax and sleep-inducing yummy-making Vicodin, I will gamely choose Topimax.
But if you ask me to choose between no medication and chancing more seizures and/or stroke, I will swallow as many pills as you want. No way, no how, no never am I going back there.