Around Christmas late last year I started into a cluster cycle of headaches. It’s been a long while since I wrote about these so I’ll retell my tale of the pain in the brain. Cluster Headache is in the migraine family. A typical day in the life of a Clusterati has me feeling a little strange about 3 hours after waking up and then spending 15 to 30 minutes with a serious headache isolated exclusively on the left side of my head. Unlike a regular headache the pain is sharp and constant. My left eye waters, I get extra sensitive to… pretty much everything & once in a while it’s enough to give me the classic migraine nausea. Once in a while they’ll just cease but they usually peter out after several minutes. Often, I’ll be due for another episode 3-4 hours later and then done for the day. This is the largest thing that separates them from standard migraine. They seem to be directly tied to the circadian rhythms AKA, your sleep cycles. This particular cycle was a little out of the ordinary in that I was frequently getting them in the evening and twice in the middle of the night.
It’s been a week now since I had a full-blown attack so I’m definitely coming out of this cluster pattern. This is the other defining factor and where Cluster Headaches get their name. They come in groups over a few months and then completely vanish for as much as a year or two. My current cycle will have lasted almost exactly two months, which is on the short side, but I’m certainly not complaining.
Due to the quick onset & (hopefully) rapid departure of the pains, taking medication isn’t really a solution. A few times in the past 2 months I had dull (for clusters) headache that just lasted all day. In those cases 12-hour pain caps took the edge off but for most of the days there’s just nothing you can take that will do more than slowly make you immune to the pain dampener. The only thing I’ve found that can truly beat down a cluster headache in full swing is a terrific rush of endorphins & adrenaline. If I’m at home I’ll hit the basement where we store the free weights. If I’m out and about I’ll do a few wind sprints. If I’m at the office – and this is where the headaches most frequently occur – there’s not much I can do. While working in New York I used to take a walk to the stairway and knock off a few dozen flights. 10 down and 16 back up followed by a walk on the roof usually did the trick. The panic inducing vertigo of looking down 16 stories onto the streets of Manhattan sometimes provided the finishing touch.
The correlation between circadian rhythms and exercise beating the pain is something of a mystery to me but I can see that getting the blood flowing & opening up the capillaries in my head is the solution. Now I just need my current employer to put in an additional 15 stories of building.
I only seem motivated to drop a post here once a month so I’ll make it a tradition.
This has been a turbulent month for me in a lot of ways. It all started when I returned to work after the New Year’s break and discovered our parent companies had filed for their country’s equivalency of bankruptcy. The American division is ok so far but it’s not a pretty sight overseas. I hear about companies all over laying people off left and right and I can’t help but feel a bit worried, especially after my other New Year’s surprise – my property taxes went up 10%. Thanks Corzine!
Other turbulence: The other Saturday I flipped on the old boob tube (which doesn’t have a tube. Oh well.) and found nothing but infomercials for hair products & yoga mats. What the? When I was a whipper snapper I lived for Saturday Morning Cartoons and now they are nowhere to be found. I suppose they’ve moved up the dial. You can always get something animated on the Cartoon or Nick networks but Yoga and Hair curlers? Damn… kids are going to just have to go outside to find entertainment!
Two days later I was shocked to hear G-Rock, my favorite radio station, suddenly change formats. Without warning they went from a progressive alt-rock station to a soulless top 40 cookie cutter TMZ mess. The station had been the anchor of my presets and it left a giant hole where “4” used to be. I wasn’t alone in my disgust. By that weekend 7500 people had organized on Facebook (yeah, I got drawn in) and 3500 signatures had been signed on the Bring Back G-Rock petition. As of this writing Facebook has 9500 members & the petition is up to 4600 signatures.
I’m disappointed but I’m afraid the station wont go back to what it was. Nor will the institution of Saturday Morning Cartoons draw children together on weekends. Times they are a changing and terrestrial radio will be the first to go. Network Television may eventually follow. The Internet is largely to blame and though I love some of the changes, I’m sorry to see my options diminished. I could go with Satellite Radio but then I’ll have to get subscribed. I could get a plan on my phone… but once again, they make you subscribe. Not for me, man! Information & Entertainment was meant to be free. I’ll reconsider when “data” isn’t a “plan” and “commercial free” really is free from commercialism. One day in the hopefully distant future I’ll look back at the early 00’s and remember them as the golden age of entertainment & information – when it was still free and available in multiple ways.
On one hand it will be excellent to turn on The Fiosion to check your email, pull up the latest pictures of your nephew and instantly begin watching the latest episode of The Simpsons (Now in it’s 33rd year!) but the flip side of that coin is that you’ll be locked into a 5 year deal with T-Mobile/Verizon (Officially branded as T.V.) and subject to personal commercials directed right into your psychy based on the things they know about from your Gmail account. Don’t think it’s possible? Get a glimpse of the future on Facebook. Change your birth-date to something in the 50s and watch the ads change to wrinkle cream & arthritis pills. Mark yourself as “Single” and the dating ads will fill your sidebar. Just wait until they know your car just went over 100,000 miles, that you’re addicted to Chap-Stick, and that you never returned that overdue library book (ya know, from back when Libraries still existed).
Ok, that’s enough grousing for one month. I’ll be back next month with less insight and more hindsight.