Week #1: NaNoWriMo and the Week That Wasn’t

It started innocently enough: Monday night writing session, sitting in a crap chair that encourages crap posture, a chair I’ve used since my freshman year of college 11 years ago and I’m surprised it hasn’t crippled me yet. That kind of crap chair.

On Tuesday, I felt the starting tension of a headache building at the base of my skull. Easy fix: grab a Coke, see if caffeine will knock it out. By time lunch was over, it was clear the full octane, liquid caffeine wouldn’t work, so I did the next best thing: took the generic form of Excedrin Tension Headache. Two pills.

Three hours pass and I arrive at my physical therapy session and the receptionist asks if I’m okay. I lie, say I’m fine, because it’s automatic and really, when someone asks you that question, they’re not really expecting a different answer, are they? Well, maybe in the medical and health-related field they actually do, but I keep the building headache to myself, get on the exercise bike, and work with my physical therapist and talk extensively about the crap chair and what to do about it.

Get to my car, take a prescription migraine pill. Generic form of Imitrex. One pill every two hours, maximum two pills a day. One pill should do it. Except it doesn’t. Driving home I realize I’m in a kind of trouble, because none, absolutely none of the medication I’ve taken that day has even come close to making a dent in this thing. I stop at a gas station, grab an emergency Coke, and when I get home, take my second and last dose in 24 hours of my prescription migraine medicine, hoping, just hoping, that this will do the trick.

I go to bed. Wake up at 4:30 am Wednesday. Still in pain.

Migraines used to be a different beast for me. Back in college, I would wake up with them, and I’d wake up vomiting. That particular migraine/trait/symptom is mostly history (used to be a monthly occurrence), and I get tiny headaches, the kind that lurk in the background and throb just enough to let you know they’re there, but not bad enough that you’re reaching for the first available pain medication. I also get bad headaches, the ones that make me debate between the Excedrin generics or the heavy-hitting prescriptions (it’s a debate, because I don’t want to starting overusing any one thing and make it less effective as a result). But by and large, if  headaches don’t make me vomit, I feel I’m functional.

I’ve not had a migraine that’s lasted longer than a day. Or, if I have, I’ve forgotten, and the circumstances were so completely different that it’s not even triggering the whole, “Oh, I’ve been here before,” feeling.

For the purpose of this entry, I’m blaming the craptastic chair. Truth be told, I honestly don’t know. In the past few weeks there’s been enough going on that’s different (I’ve made a list) that it could be any one of or any combination of those things.

In those wee hours of Wednesday morning, I gave up and took two generic Excedrin Migraines (only two in 24 hours allowed!). I feel asleep, and when I woke for work, the headache was on the way out. I grabbed my emergency Coke from the fridge, hoping the extra caffeine would drive it away completely, but I ended up taking a nap at lunch. When the timer went off and I was forced to return to a vertical position, I knew it was a very, very bad idea. But I did it anyway. After all, I only had four hours of work left. How bad could it be?

Bad enough that I finally gave up and went home at 3:15, after fighting to keep my head upright. Bad enough I called my doctor and asked for his advice on medication: I’d already taken my recommended dosage of the generic Imitrex. I’d already taken the recommended dosage of the generic Excedrin. What else could I do? He asked about my symptoms, the location of the pain, about what I’d taken and when, and called in two prescriptions: a new round of generic Imitrex (as the stuff I’d been taking had gone out of date in March. Ooops) for migraine, and generic Fioricet for tension headaches, which we both agreed was what this was. An aggressive, Hulk-sized tension headache, but a tension headache nonetheless.

I pick up the meds, get tips from the pharmacist on how to make those meds more effective (20 minutes soaking in a hot-as-humanly-tolerable bath with 4 lbs of Epsom salt). Pick up Thursday, until mid-afternoon, where I swear, in the span of 20 minutes, if left like someone grabbed the remote and turned up the pain levels back up to screaming. I wanted to pop my head like a zit. Powered through to 4:00, went home, made my list of WTF-is-causing-this-shit list, took my special bath, and then ended the night with the prescription dispersing in my system.

Today, Friday, was a day of goals: don’t ingest the things that might be exacerbating the pain (sugar, caffeine). Don’t take anything for the sinuses, even though the blockage is annoying as hell (and yet this isn’t a sinus headache). Keep taking the big guns through-out the day, because if the bugger comes roaring back like it has the past two days, it’s time to call the doctor and beg for a brain scan.

Fortunately, I did not have to call the doctor and beg for a brain scan. But headache’s still there. Lingering and waiting, shifting around and testing various locations in my head, like it’s trying to find a room just right. But because it’s Friday night, I’m debating taking another around of the big guns. I want to go to sleep, see what I wake up with, so I can get a feeling for how this sucker really operates, if it’s really on the way out like I hope. I’m not out of the woods yet, but I didn’t need to go home early today (stayed late, even!), and that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Writing-wise: Tuesday yielded nothing. Wednesday yielded a couple hundred words that knocked me over 10K. Thursday I didn’t quite make the daily word count, and today, Friday, well, I need to get started. While I’m not in bad shape for NaNoWriMo, I’m also not where I want to be either, and I’m hoping the weekend affords me some time to get ahead, really ahead. I’m also hoping that this migraine, this tension headache on steroids, goes the hell away and stays the hell away.

Because this bastard has been here since lunch on Tuesday. Not off and on, but on, brighter and sharper at some times and dimmer at others. Friday’s been the best day since this started, and I hope that’s a sign that Saturday and Sunday will get better and better. I’m tired of having to say, “I was migraining yesterday,” in order to explain a lapse in attention, a screw up at work, a bumbling of words, or a plain fuck up (leaving the garage door open, forgetting to feed the cat twice). I’ve had to say it two days in a row, and that’s more than enough.

So let’s be optimistic: here’s to a migraine/tension headache-free weekend. Here’s to writing my heart out, eating delicious Chinese food with friends, and being blown away by the glory of Interstellar on IMAX. Please be awesome, Interstellar. Please be awesome.

7 thoughts on “Week #1: NaNoWriMo and the Week That Wasn’t

  1. Ug, headaches and migraines that last for days are the worst. I don’t think mine have ever gotten as nasty as needing a prescription, and I’ve had nausea and close-to-vomiting but not actual vomit years ago, not so much recently, but I still get the 2-3 day headaches. I recognize the coping strategy of trying to head off the headache/ contemplating if it’s going to be a big one or not. :\ :\ It sucks and I’m sorry you’re going through the suckage and pain.

    Oh but what I wanted to comment was: one thing it could be besides the chair: fricking end of daylight savings! I feel like the combo of much drier air plus this BS messing with my schedule makes for screwed up sleep which then means headaches.

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    1. I never thought about daylight savings….. that’s one possibility, to be sure. Another is “that time of the month,” which snuck up on me since I had an I.U.D. inserted that’s supposed to eliminate that time of the month, so I didn’t really realize that might be the issue. Between that and the weather (it’s gotten much colder, a lot faster), there’s no telling what ingredients were contributing! The good news is that Saturday, I didn’t have to take any meds, and Sunday seems to be even better.

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