Cranial Annihilation

Last night I had one of the worst headaches I've ever had. It wasn't so much a headache as it was, as I can only imagine, exactly like having your head inside a round, vise-like press built expressly for squeezing a noggin until it pops like a grape.

I don't write too many posts about my headaches - if I did that would be an all-headache blog (fun!) - but I feel like I survived a near-death experience and have to tell someone. I can't stop thinking about it. It wasn't bad enough to go to the ER, but it was bad enough to wonder if I might have to at some point.

It's a frightening thing when the pain inside your head is so severe, instead of lying down you think it might help to run - to try to run away from it like you could outrun it if you ran fast enough. But running with a horrendous headache seems like the easiest way to kill yourself with multiple aneurysms, so I've never tried it.

It wasn't a migraine or a nasty sinus headache. Once it was full-blown, it wasn't familiar at all, and I've had every type of headache you can have. Or had, until last night. It started slowly, as is usually the case, with a little pressure behind the eyes that gradually began to radiate out around the crown.

When a headache is first coming on I'm always reminded of Stephen King's description of the headaches Andy gets in Firestarter - feeling the horse (the pain) kicking at the barn doors trying to get into the rest of his head and trying to fight it back. It almost never works - in real life, that is. It almost always gets out.

Normally I'd have popped a sudafed and some advil but Friday night is tequila night, so I omitted the pills and hoped alcohol would help. It did last Friday. It felt like the same headache I had last week and after the first mojito, it was gone. Since I'd rather not toast my liver with advil and booze, I put my money on just the booze.

After the first mojito it was still there, but thanks to the dilating effects of alcohol, it wasn't as bad. I thought things were moving in the right direction. I had one more mojito and still, the headache wasn't retreating. Not even a little. Now a little drunk, I could still feel it and it was getting worse. Not a good sign.

We started walking home and thought maybe coffee would help. It often can, and since it wasn't getting any better and I was still boozed up enough to want to avoid pills, I gave it a try. A double espresso and a little sugar. No change. On the walk home, I complained about still having a headache but it was only just getting started.

At home on the couch, I pounded a huge glass of water and waited. Then I fell asleep for a an hour or so and when I woke up it was even worse. This was about the time I wasn't sure if I should go to bed or go running around the neighborhood. I walked aimlessly around the house not knowing what to do.

Afraid to take codeine with acetaminophen (which is how it's formulated), because of the super-liver-frying powers of acetaminophen + booze, I took half a 10 grain valium and got into bed.

By this time, pain was radiating up from the back of my skull, over the top of my head to where it met the other pain coming from behind my eyes. For a while I thought I might boot up my dinner, which I have to say, were some of the best fish tacos I have ever had, and since the headache began long before I had dinner, I'm fairly certain it had nothing to do with food. Even now I would inhale a few more plates of those tacos, which, if those were the culprit, I couldn't even think about it without booting.

I waited, and waited... and writhed around wondering if soon I'd feel blood coming out of my eyes and ears. The kitten curled up on my pillow next to my head - the throbbing was probably soothing and warm. And thankfully, after about 45 minutes the valium kicked in and I could feel some distance setting in. I was going to be able to sleep. I think if I could have smoked heroin I would have - anything - to be able to sleep.

All I could think of was that maybe this was a cluster headache, which isn't so much a type of headache but an episode of headaches that happen in - you guessed it - clusters. But they have a different feeling than typical migraines or other headaches and are most often on just one side of the head. This was definitely my whole head exploding on all sides. Insane.

Whatever it was, when I woke up at 4:30 having to pee like a racehorse, it was gone. Not even a lingering shadow. And after dozing through the rest of the morning it didn't come back. Woke up feeling totally fine, albeit tired from the battle & lack of sleep. Regardless, if I ever head to the tequila bar with a headache brewing, it's not getting any booze. I don't want to feel like that ever again.

And so far, I've not noticed any new mental abilities, psychic tendencies or telekinesis, so... that's a big disappointment. All that, for nothing. Except this rambling post. Aren't you lucky.