Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Life With Chronic Headaches/Migraines: Part 2 WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD

If you haven't read the first part of this five part series, you can find it here:
My Life with Chronic Headaches/Migraines Part 1: In the Beginning


Mid-summer 2015 was when I moved to Tennessee to begin my teaching career in the real world and escape the frigid winters of Minnesota. I was still getting frequent headaches and had moved on to taking Excedrine Migraine for them, since ibuprofen was no longer having any effect.  If a headache came on, I'd take three Excedrine with a can of coke because I needed the caffeine to help dispel the pain.  

I'm going to pause here to clarify- for the most part, I'm consistently using the term headache throughout these posts because they varied a lot in severity and type.  Sometimes they were headaches, sometimes they were migraines, and for the purpose of these posts it's easier just to use one term.

In December 2015, the Friday after my birthday, I had the worst migraine I had ever had. I was dizzy and couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without feeling like I was going to pass out. At lunch I couldn't stop shaking, and finally, I spontaneously burst into tears because I didn't understand why I felt so miserable. It was terrifying.  I'd had headaches, I'd had migraines, but I had never had them to this to degree.  I'd never experienced this many side effects from them.

Thankfully, my awesome teammates had my back. (Honestly, the crying probably scared them. I was not a crier). They retrieved our AP and all agreed I needed to go home ASAP. Luckily my apartment wasn't more than a ten minute drive from work, and when I got home, I crashed. In hindsight, I should not have driven home.  It had gotten that bad.

After waking up hours later, I felt better, but not great, and definitely not normal. I had a friend from home staying with me at the time who suggested we go get a massage. It was my first massage, and knowing what I know now, regular massages probably should have been a part of my routine for a long time. (Easy to say, but difficult to afford/have time for when you're a college-student-turned-teacher. Even still, I won't go get one until there is a knot the size of a small country in my back, wreaking havoc on the nerves in my neck and head.. You would think I would have learned...)

The next day, (a Saturday), Cassadee Pope was putting on a free show in Nashville, which I was NOT about to miss.  I felt better headache-wise, but was still quite nauseous. I powered through the concert (because that's what you do when you have free fourth row seats to see Cassadee Pope), but by the time we got to Honky Tonk Central for lunch, I knew I wasn't going to last much longer. I picked at my buffalo chicken wrap while my friend inhaled her lunch, then we headed home for a nap. I stayed nauseous for a good week and a half after this. I went to the doctor because I was so freaked out that there was something seriously wrong with me, but all tests came back negative and they told me just to hydrate, there was nothing else they could do.

In January 2016 I was having constant pain on the right side of my mid/upper back, in the area both behind and below my shoulder blade. It hurt so bad that I was certain I had a kidney infection. When I told a friend about it, she felt the space with her thumb and told me, "Gretchen! That is a knot! It is literally the size of my palm." I didn't know! Blessed am I to have a dear friend who, on her birthday mind you, spent a good 30 minutes using one of those hard plastic massage toy thingies to attempt to unravel this knot. While it didn't completely go away, this made a huge difference.

I survived the rest of the school year on coke and Excedrine, trying my best to combat the stress of being a first year teacher and the craziness of second grade.

(To be continued...)

Stay tuned next week for part 3!

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