Tag Archives: caffeine


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.


I want to write about my weekend in Denver but first I’m going to make this quick post about sleep. We got in to SFO at a little after 11; I went and got the car and came back to pick up Mom & Dad around midnight; got to Santa Clara around 12:35 (no one on the highway!); got home at 1:30; got right in bed and . . . couldn’t sleep! After about an hour of tossing and turning I finally took an ibuprofen which put me out until 6 when the alarm went off.

Work at 8 am was the Cat Stevens show at DSH which had been giving JJ fits for weeks but it came off fine. I walked out of the building at 2 am, though; got home at 2:30 . . . and couldn’t sleep. Hmmm. I didn’t want to take a sleeping pill since I had to get up again for another 8 o’clock call. Ibuprofen did the trick. The alarm was set to 6:40 and I slept right into it.

So last night, I was sure I would collapse early in the evening. I had surprisingly felt pretty decent the whole two days so I was again surprised when I made it to 8:30 without falling asleep on my feet. I thought about taking a sleeping pill but thought I would try it without since I was (should have been) really tired.

I fell asleep pretty quick but woke up at 9:30 with the certainty that I wasn’t going to get to sleep easily again. So, Ibuprofen to the rescue. I think I thought that I should have been tired enough to not have to take a pill but I was kind of jumpy and the ibu usually takes care of that.

It did, but I woke again at 1:30 and took another dose, which got me to 4:45. I woke with the certainty that there would be no more sleep, even though my call today is 9 and I could have gone back to bed. I actually fell ok!

Caffeine has played a major role in all this. I took a pill – actually an excedrin – Monday morning and again yesterday but aside from that I had no headaches or other problems needing pain pills. This morning I’m having a cup of black tea. It’s just to have tea, though, not for the jolt.

Tomorrow is an early call (6 am) but I’m supposed to be off tonight at 7 so I should be able to get a good night in. Friday I am off. Laundry day!