Migraines & Cluster Headaches

I've been battling with headaches for the past two weeks.  These aren't just your regular headaches, the ones that you take Excedrin and go on.  It's much worse.  I would go as far to classify these headaches as debilitating, mind numbing, holy terrors!

I've been dealing with these headaches every year since I was 13.  And it's gotten progressively worse each year.  I've been to doctors and they've always diagnosed them as migraines, they would give me a prescription, and send me home.  I've managed to deal with the pain until now.  For some reason this year, the pain was extremely severe and unbearable.  In the span of one week I'd been to see a doctor 4 times.  They each gave me some cocktail of prescription and sent me home.  But the pain never fully went away.  My husband finally decided to take me to see a headache specialist.

I was then diagnosed with Cluster Headache Disorder.  A cluster headache is a series of short very painful headaches that happen over a period of time from one week to months and then they go away for a time and come back.  The headaches happen in clusters.  The main difference between a migraine and a cluster headache is the length of time, severity of pain, and behavior of the patient.  With a migraine you can take medicine, go in a dark room, sit still and find comfort.  When you have a cluster headache, you don't find comfort.  The patient is often restless with a pacing or rocking back and forth.  Cluster headache pain is more severe than a migraine, but the cluster headache typically is shorter in length of time than a migraine.

My headaches come every year during the summer months.  They attack every day once or twice in the morning around 7 or 8 am, twice in the afternoon, and throughout the night starting at 3 or 4 am.  During the cluster pattern, I could have around 8 headaches a day.  What's worse is that these headaches are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.  I've lost weight due to me not being able to keep much down.  I'd been on a liquid diet for about a week.  I found myself sleeping on the bathroom floor in the dark every night.  The medical community recognizes this disorder as the worst pain a human can experience and it only affects about 1% of the population.

After seeing the headache specialist, I feel like I'm finally on a path to healing.  Now that I know what I have and know more about the disorder, I can better manage it using the proper treatment and prevention methods.  I've learned that things I eat could be triggering the headaches.  For example, I found out that aged foods such as cheese, wine, and fermented soy products contain a chemical called tyramine that has been known to cause headaches.  I've noticed that after eating cheese or soy sauce or tofu, I would get a headache the same or next day.  I'm learning more and more about my body each day.  It's been an uphill battle, but now I feel like I have the tools to be in control.

I wanted to share this with you to encourage everyone to see a headache specialist if you get headaches that disrupt your life.  It's not normal, but it can be treated and prevented.

Needless to say, I haven't been able to do much in the way of music for the past couple of weeks.  I still have three songs to record and then we're off to mixing and mastering.  I had a minor set back but I'm getting back in the studio this week and I'm so excited that we're close to the end.  I'm closer than ever to sharing my new songs and tracks with all of you.

Signing off...

Keep on doing what you do, stay focused and God Bless!