I’ve been having a few of them recently. As I have mentioned before, I get them now and again. Reading forums, some people get them all the time, which would be utterly awful. Thankfully, I only get them for about three weeks every year or so. I’ve been having them for fifteen years or so now. I didn’t used to keep track of them, but I’ve kept a note for the past few years. I had a batch in December 2007, then some more in August 2008. A longer gap the next time, when I had some in February 2010. And now I have them again.
Last time I had them I’d read online that caffeine and “sexual activity” could, if implemented as soon as I felt a headache coming on, could minimise the pain. And it works pretty good. It’s still a headache worse than a regular headache, but it’s way milder than a full-on cluster headache. I hate the taste of Red Bull, but it seems to be the best way to get a lot of caffeine in me as quickly as possible. Sometimes, though, I get the feeling that all they are doing is postponing the headaches. I stay awake til around the normal time I’ll get a headache (this batch seem to come around 3.30-4.00am), I’ll take my “medication,” get rid of the headache, and then be awake and jittery from the Red Bull until daylight. And several of those times, I’ve been woken up mid-morning by a headache.
While there’s no perfect time for a cluster headache, and the loss of sleep, and messing up of the body clock sucks, getting them during the night has one huge benefit: it’s dark. Light and sound make the headaches feel worse, so getting them at 4am makes it easier to avoid both of those things: it’s dark and quiet. I had one last week in the middle of the afternoon. I was on the subway when I first felt it. I was only a couple of stations from my Spanish teacher’s house, so I waited, dashed out of the station to the convenience store which, inconveniently, didn’t have any Red Bull. Nor did the next one. By the time I was at the third store on the same block as my teacher’s place, the headache was beyond repair. I glugged down Red Bull anyway, said hi and goodbye, and got in a cab to go straight back home.
It’s amazing how little things become so much more noticeable when you’re feeling bad. I noticed how bad the roads are. Bumpy bumpy bumpy all the way home. I noticed how much traffic there is. So many traffic lights, too. And time passes so so slowly when I’ve got a headache. The homing instinct really kicks in. I can clearly remember times in London on the train home, head down, eyes closed, just trying to focus on being home. I went to an Arcade Fire concert in 2005 at Magnet Club in Berlin. I got a headache while they were playing. I left immediately, and the walk home from the club is something I can still quite vividly remember. (And, unfairly or not, I still bear a grudge against the band for causing that particular headache. My enjoyment of their music has never been the same since then. Partly, of course, due to the decline in quality of their music. Meow.)
Today is the final day of the third week of these headaches. I didn’t have one all day Sunday. I got eight hours sleep for the first time in over a week (I was averaging about four hours sleep per 24 hours last week), and there’s not been any shadows all day either (I get a faint feeling of a headache a lot of the time, which hints that I’ll be getting a full-on twat of a headache at some point). Headaches are, apparently, self-perpetuating. And I do wonder if my brain has anything to do with this idea of the three week batches of them. Now that I know I’m at the end of a three week batch, is my brain preparing me for normality again? It’s kinda alarming that my brain allows this shit to happen, but right now, if he is telling me the three week batch is over, well: thanks, brain. And I really do hope that there’s no blog post tomorrow where I call my brain a twat for tricking me into believing the headaches were over. My brain is a twat a lot of the time for many other reasons, but I hope he’s not for this.