My Life as a Barometer

I haven’t done an update on my migraines in a while, so I figured one was due. Part of this was prompted by an interesting article I saw in the papers today–more on that later.

Basically, my headaches have been about the same in intensity, but slightly greater in frequency. If you don’t remember, I tend to get dull headaches on one side: no sensitivity to light or aura, but my eye waters and occasionally they get really bad. For a while I had them somewhat under control, where under control means a light headache every 2-3 weeks.

Recently (read over the summer) they had gotten more frequent, to the point of a light headache every couple of days, or when I was lucky, one a week. Not debilitating, but more distracting. I had noticed that they were worse on nights I had trouble sleeping. On the theory that sleep was related, I had a sleep study done. It showed that I have apnea… and so, as of Saturday night, I have a CPAP machine. Hopefully, once I get used to that, the frequency of headaches will go back down.

What actually prompted this post was an article about a women with 20 year headaches, which they just cured. Her symptoms for her almost continuous headache: “…a headache pretty much every day, and it just varied in severity – whether it was kind of a low-key one that I walked around with or more intrusive…”. The specific symptoms? Dull pain on one side of the head, mixed with periods of severe, shooting pain, eye-lid droop, watery eye and reddening of the eye on that side, and a stuffy nose. It turns out the condition is called Hemicrania continua, and is easily treatable by a well-known strong NSAID, indomethacin.

Now, I have no idea whether this would apply to me. After all, the Wikipedia page indicates the headache is continuous (which mine isn’t)… although the WebMD page notes “Some patients will have these headaches steadily for months or years. In others, the pain will go away for weeks or months.” The more significant factor is noted on the Wikipedia page: “The factor that allows hemicrania continua and its exacerbations to be differentiated from migraine and cluster headache is that hemicrania continua is completely responsive to indomethacin. Triptans and other abortive medications do not affect hemicrania continua.” My headaches do respond to Triptans.

Still, I’m printing a copy of the article, and will ask the neurologist the next time I visit her. It can never hurt to ask.