I’ve gotten headaches for a long time. Not just garden variety headaches, whatever those are, but really nasty headaches. Despite the fact that these headaches have been serious, I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that they were migraines. I was usually able to control them with ibuprofen. I never had to go to a darkened room for three days or anything like that. There were difficult times, to be sure, but mostly I soldiered on.
I remember keeping track of my aspirin and ibuprofen for a while during my Opera days in the ’80’s. Somewhere in a box there is a calendar with those notes. Thinking about this post this morning, I remembered a particularly nasty one that had to be in 1977. Eventually I stopped using aspirin and took ibuprofen only. It worked sometimes.
I was never a coffee drinker but I knew about caffeine. What I didn’t know was the effect it had on headaches. It wasn’t until I was talking to my doctor in Grass Valley sometime in the mid-90s that I found out how caffeine could stop my headaches. What a revelation that was!
That was good for a long time. I had to be careful not to take Excedrin, my drug of choice containing caffeine, for the nasty headaches, too late in the afternoon or I wouldn’t be able to get to sleep. Nor could I take it in the middle of the night unless I was prepared to stay awake.
About two years ago, I was talking to my doctor here about my nighttime headaches during my annual physical. When I told her about the efficacy of caffeine, she immediately said, ‘Migraines!’ She gave me a prescription – Maxalt – that has been helpful for the times when caffeine is contraindicated.
There are basically two times of the day when the bad headaches show up. One is in the night, usually waking me up in the wee hours, one or two in the morning. My strategy had been to take ibuprofen and hope for a couple of hours more sleep to get me to 5 or 6 am when I could take Excedrin. Now I can take the Maxalt and (usually) sleep better. I always felt these headaches were due to some kind of reaction to food. Maybe some kind of spice as they often came after a dinner of Mexican food. They didn’t always come after such a dinner, though. I couldn’t pin it down. I didn’t stop eating Mexican food, either.
The other type usually started coming on in the middle part of the day. These I believe are tension headaches. I can sometimes identify what is contributing to it and try to deal with the source, as it were. Sometimes . . .
This is my subject today because I’ve had headaches now in the early morning for the last 5 days. It seems unlikely that food is causing them. My diet isn’t great but I haven’t been eating particularly spicy foods. I’ve taken Excedrin at variously 4, 5 or 6 am but it hasn’t knocked the headache out. I’ve had to take the Maxalt at around 8 and a couple of days that didn’t even work. I suspect an element of tension.
I have my annual physical scheduled for two weeks from yesterday so I will definitely be discussing this with Dr Amara. I have some theories about what is causing the headaches this week but that will have to wait for another post. One more day of work today then a couple of days off.