I’ve been overdue for a cluster cycle for a few years now so every Spring I’ve been mindful of avoiding triggers. Stress and sleep issues are #1 and #1 again in the short list. The stress of 2020 apparently wasn’t enough or maybe social distancing during the onset months of April and May made a change? I can’t say. Well, I could say but it wouldn’t be backed up with scientific proof. Then again, the burden of proof doesn’t seem to even be a passing distraction for the bulk of the suddenly-an-expert-on-virology Interneteurs out there. But I digress… we were talking headaches here. Know what else is a headache? Wearing a mask that inhibits normal oxygen intake. Instant. Eyegraine. Brainpain. When forced into a desperado mask situation I found that full-lung meditative Darth-Vader breathing helped a lot. It also made sure nobody invaded my 6-foot bubble. Especially when combined with tantric eye-contact. But now I’ve trigressed. better start a new paragraph and pretend this one didn’t happen.
So, yeah. in April of 2021 I started getting the all-too familiar aura just as I was beginning my day. A few weeks later the aura was sometimes coming with sensitivity and mild nausea. The pain aspect finally kicked in near the end of May. The periods slowly shifted from morning to afternoon to evening – a vast departure from my old “10:00 to 10:30 every day” routine. Through June I was experiencing some form of headache 3 or 4 times a week, usually in the evenings. I had my last full-blown episode on July 10th and a few minor issues over the next few weeks and then nothing since. With the 2016 cluster cycle persisting into October I’m rapturously ecstatic at having a cycle apparently end in July. Was it something I did to shorten the cycle? Very maybe 99% sure!
The yuuuge difference this year is my environment. Working from home. The kid and wife often at school or work. Easy access to walking paths down by the bay and the weight set in the basement. Best of all: I could get a nice quiet dark room whenever I needed one rather than have to try and ignore a headache while trapped in a meeting at the office. I’m still finding the quickest relief with high-intensity lactic acid producing workouts that cause endorphins to be released en-masse. Ahhhh… a quick hit of the natural endo and the ‘graine is gone. This time around I also experimented with antihistamines now that I’ve found some good ones that don’t make me zombiesque. On days spent fully on histamine blockers I experienced nothing more than an aura of the headache. I try to only take the stuff when I need it for known allergens so more research will need to be conducted.
Speaking* of research, the world continues to become more aware of Cluster Headache and now uses a “CH” as a know abbreviation. The Wikipedia article is no longer a stub but a full article and many major medical sites now have some information on it, though their stock-photos of headache sufferers make little sense. Apparently CH is also called Horton’s syndrome now. Who knew that Dr. Seuss’ big blue elephant was suffering from clusters? The good doctor was obviously ahead of his time. He also predicted 2021’s use of pandemic politics in his book about Sneeches. Whether you choose to wear a star or not is irrelevant as long as McBean gets paid. Remember that and follow the beans! Be safe. Have fun. Don’t believe everything you hear. Fear nothing. Except cluster headaches!
Every fewyearsor so I get the notion to journal my day. Rather than micro-blogging or uploading a score of photos to Instabook.com I’m consolidating them all here for your condensed and concentrated consideration. Crikey!
05:?? The cat is reminding me that he’s nocturnal and nobody has offered play, grooming or food in hours. I tossed a blanket over him and fell back to sleep. 06:45 Hello world! Yet another rainy day. At least I’m scheduled to be indoors most of the day. 07:30 Morning discussion with the daughter: skid marks vs poop streaks. She decides she wants her bedtime story to be about “poop paint”. Hey, you can’t make this stuff up folks! 08:20 Daughter is spooning out canned cat food wearing a dust mask scented with essential oils. “This cat food is toxic.” she remarks. The cats agreed. No more of that brand. 08:30 Running late again. One bite of my English Muffin tells me it had gone moldy. Blech. Opt for some blueberries and peanuts to break my fast. 08:45 Finally leaving for work. Car reports 47.1 MPG on this tank so far. 09:10 Arrive at work safe and sound. 46.8 MPG now. The parkway is inefficient unless I can tuck in behind a bus or truck. 09:11 The Geese Police are checking out the office pond to make sure the Canadians haven’t invaded over night. The side of the truck says “Get the flock out.” 09:15 Only two immediate tasks await me in my inbox. A good start! 09:50 A coworker lets me know that Bitcoin is up yet again. Since nobody knows who started it Bitcoin is probably Skynet. I refuse to fund the future War of the Robots! Unless it looks like they are winning… then I for one welcome our new Robotic Overlords. 10:12 Thinking about a future redesign of the NJNG bills and comparing to other utilities. The JCP&L graph looks exactly like ours. Imitation/flattery and all that… but we splurge on color. 🙂 11:45 90 minutes filling in a spreadsheet documenting servers of which I am responsible. This is not exciting work but it’s better than putting out virtual fires – my usual morning routine. 11:50 The Lunch. Ham & cheese sammy, crackers & a green apple. #GourmetDining. 12:00 Heading to Red Bank for long meeting. My commute within my commute. 12:20 I stop off at Brookdale Community College to replace the missing second stage of the Jim Gary tribute cache stashed on campus. The rain held off until I was on my way back to the car. Usually a nice view but day was dreary. A woodpecker was drumming above when I took this.
14:00 I’m wearing Purple today to support one of the business resource groups at the office. We all line up on the office steps and have out photo taken for the corporate newsletter. Unfortunately I’m not in that office this afternoon so my purple has gone photographed. 16:46 Co-workers are talking about this new Corona Virus thing. Let me spoil it for you: The news outlets will milk it like a bloated heifer. It will reach New Jersey. Sheeple will freak out. In the end it will be a typical viral flu season. If the stock market catches a virus just buy early and buy often. Stay calm and carry on people. 18:18 Home at last! I got the gas mileage up to 47.2 MPG but I think I can do better. 19:00 Looking at output from the Christmas Gift night-cam. I spy with my little electronic eye… A few cats, a skunk and two fat raccoons at half-past-midnight.
19:10 Daughter and Wife return from “The Little Gym”. 19:30 Like ships in the night, the wife is off again. Working in the public sector requires working when most folks are not. But can I get the kid fed and to bed on time? Of course! 20:05 A late dinner of left overs and more left overs. Beef & bean chili over rice, a few carrots and some home-made chicken soup. Not a bad mix really. More #GourmetDining. Bon Apetite! 21:00 Bedtime story! A story about a white kitten with brown streaks that likes sleeping on the toilet but gets stuck in the bowl. The cat’s name? Poopoopaint of course. The cat goes on to star in a series of toilet commercials to the delight of my single audience member. 21:30 Laundry. The tip of my finger is scorched off by static discharge. Dryer balls no bueno. I’m going back to dryer sheets! Or bribing the kid to wash her own clothes. 22:00 Watching a second season episode of “Game of Thrones” via a borrowed DVD. For a wonder nobody died in this episode. I can guess how the whole series ends: Dragons burn some zombie wights… but all of the people already killed each other so the zombies start a new civilization based on cooperation, peace, equality and a brain-based economy. Tourists visit “The Great Wall” and everyone lives forever in bliss and harmony. 23:20 I’ve uploaded all of the images for today’s entry. Now to head to bed and edit this thing later. Today wasn’t my most interesting day but I enjoyed it. 🙂
Back around 1990 I joined the local “Polar Bear Club” by jumping into a partially frozen river on January 1st. I remember it being a VERY cold day. We had to break some ice away from the river’s banks to be able to jump in. I also remember standing on snow after getting out because IT FELT WARMER THAN THE GROUND. Good times! A few years later I needed a Christmas break photo essay for my high-school photography class and I remembered the Annual Polar Bear Plunge. I arrived on scene with my 35mm loaded with classic black & white film. I snapped a few photos of the plunge, developed the negatives that week, printed/mounted the shots the following week and got a decent grade on the photo essay. I recently unearthed the poster-board on to which I had glued the photos. Rather than just throw it away I have decided to retype my essay correcting only the spelling errors and share it with the world. Ladies and Gentlemen… The Polar Bear Club!
The date is January 1992. The time is 11:59 A.M. The temperature is approximately 34 degrees and the stage is set for the seventh annual Polar Bear swim in the Tulpehocken river at Stone Cliff. This year the number of Polar Bears slipped to five after peaking at thirteen in 1986 but there could be no doubting the bravery of the remaining quintet.
A small crowd of spectators and photographers as well as passers by stood waiting as the local heroes stripped to their swimming suits and prepared for the inevitable [shock] that awaited them. Then as watches and alarms announced the start of a new hour, five figures plunged into the frigid river and, after much gasping and wheezing, swiftly departed the murky waters. Shivering visibly, the five quickly donned warm and dry clothes, thankful that it was over but already anxious for their next opportunity to prove their worthiness of the title Polar Bear.
A split second before the Big Chill
The Polar Bears take the plunge
The swimmers hit the beach
Now back to cleaning out the basement (and justifying keeping the flat-bed scanner).
I was recently mindlessly browsing the Facebook and a post caught my eye with an idiotic title suggesting that “if you have one of these 11 beanie babies I can retire now”. I must have been avoiding doing actual work because I clicked through and crunched the numbers. If I had all of them and could sell them at the prices the inflated prices and EBay/Amazon didn’t take their cut… I would have only 150 thousand dollars and couldn’t possibly retire. Sounds like a Pump-and-Dump scam to me. But it got me to thinking…. so I brought out my Beanie Baby collection. Yeah, I have a whole collection! Back in the late 90s when they were all the rage I noticed the pattern that if they had “hard parts” like pincers, beaks, horns, etc, they were not collected as aggressively so they became rare. This collection method seems to have worked as my paltry beanie-stash contained 2 of the 11 on the list. Hooray! Good thing Allison wasn’t too interested in them the last time I brought them out.
So, can I retire for a month or two at least? The two should fetch $3500. Let us check the Electronical Bay of Auctions to see for what price they are actually selling: Mystic the Unicorn (with the Iridescent Horn & Yarn Mane) goes for $5.00 NOT $1,000. Oh well. Claude the Crab (with the “error” on the hang-tag) goes for $4.00 NOT $2,500. Dad Gummit.
So, no I can’t retire or even pay for my Fat Tuesday meal tonight at Popeye’s. The BBs were only a few bucks each back in the day so I’m just give them to my daughter. Any she doesn’t want can go into a Beanie Baby geocache. That way I get a few smiles out of it … and hyperbole spewing bloggers and the EBay listings that feed on them don’t get a cent. Yeah, Babies!
Question: What rhymes with couch and hurts like hell? Answer: OUCH.
I’m a few months late in writing this but BLTN as they post. Only two years after my 2014 cluster headache cycle I started a new one in 2016. This time around I fully documented every headache in an online calendar log. I started with the Auras in early May and by the end of the month was having at least a minor episode nearly every day. The onset of the cycle was likely expedited by the pressure/sleep and stress changes involved in a trip out west. This cycle was a little strange in that they headaches skipped tuesdays for the first month and then were not as long or as painful as I expected. Unfortunately by late July I was having them every day. August saw many days with multiple occurrences and a few dreaded waking eye-graines. The pain continued into September and faded out over about four weeks into early October. So May through October with 2 and a half months at full blast. This was a few weeks longer than the previous cycle and very painful. Since I started really documenting these each cycle has been longer. This is not a sustainable happiness model.
The good news is that these are now mainstream. Google has special results for when you search for them. They are considered Common and the pharmaceutical industry is standing by ready and willing to push me into a heroin addiction whenever I’m ready to offer up a co-pay. They may be willing to substitute a cancer causing steroid. Hooray! Ok, so yeah, the bad news is that nobody has figured out what the deal is with these as of yet but mainstream awareness just may prove useful. Can an awareness ribbon be far behind? We’ll have to pick a color. I recommend something dark that doesn’t strobe and kick off a headache for anyone actively in a cluster cycle.
Some links that give me hope:
Clusterbusters.org – Somewhat new website that offers something of a support group and has info on clinical trials. I joined the patient registry and will be following them closely.
Clusters are now well documented in the International Classifications for Headache Disorders… so where is our Awareness Ribbon already?!
The disorder now has its very own ICD9 code. Once insurance companies recognize a disorder proactive pharma/nutraceuticals soon follow. Money talks!
The top 5 links under Cluster Headache all seem to have been updated in the last year.
Until some solid science comes up with a preventative I’ll just keep stomping up and down the steps and doing pushups at the first hint of an aura. Adrenaline still works for me which is a blessing. I will leave you with a fun quote:
Experts have suggested that cluster headache may be the most painful condition known to medical science.
Well, at least I don’t have THAT kind of cluster headache! [attribution]
Every two yearsor so I get the notion to journal my day. This time around I picked my birthday. Not for any special reason but just because it seemed like it might be a full day. It was! I then forgot about actually posting the entry for nearly 2 months. Better late than never! Without further palaver, this was my day:
06:18 A full 12 minutes before the “first” alarm I’m up and heading for the shower where I will hopefully wake up before I start driving anywhere. Sleep driving is never advisable. 07:15 Allison is awake. She’s very excited that we’re going to go see her Meemaa in “ONLY TWO DAYS!?!” 07:40 Pizza. It’s what’s for breakfast. Nice home-made stuff prepared by Heather and Allison the night before. Yummers! 07:45 Out the door and pulling out of the driveway. Allison waves good-bye and blows kisses as she does pretty much every morning. “Bye Dad! I love you one hundred million years!” I blow a kiss back. She eats it. “OM!” Then I toss one “for Mommy”. Allison pretends to jump up and intercept it. “OM!” You read that right. We eat our kisses. Yummers! 08:15 I’m parked in the last lot at Durand Park in northern Freehold attempting to be the first one to find the new “Float like a butterfly…” mystery cache. A few minutes later I had the cache in hand. Very cute. FTF! I complete a loop of the walking path and then head off to the office. 09:00 I make it into the office right on time only to find I had no reason to rush. No fires to put out this morning. A perfect birthday gift! 10:30 I just spent the morning coding a new automatic process that will update the status of “child” work-orders when the “parent” work-order is updated. When I go to test it I see a checkbox right there on the screen saying “Update Children”. Did nobody ever notice this before asking me to make a “behavior modification” to the program? Fortunately the option “does nothing” so my changes were actually needed. Yeah, my job is exciting! 11:00 When signing into the website, some customers aren’t able to see their bills that were generated last night. Turns out there was an internet outage that took down the interfaces last night. Craziness! What is crazier is actually getting bent out of shape because you can’t immediately sign in and view your bill hours before it even makes it into the mail. 12:00 An email from my brother: “Haha You’re old!!! Happy birthday, treat yourself to a hip replacement!!!”. I reply with a promise to use my new hip to kick his ass the next time I see him. 12:30 My program changes are working. Time for my PB&J sandwich then a half-hour lunch-walk around the pond to scare the frogs.
13:00 Frogs go splash as I walk along the edge of the pond. Some frogs are taking flight where I am not… then I notice the water-snake moving along the bank. It is pretty scary to a frog too I suppose. I also spot some Sun-Fish and a mockingbird looking at me mockingly. 14:00 Everyone in the office is pretty busy this week. One co-worker has put up a sign across her door-way saying “Please Do No Disturb”. If only the door-way had an actual DOOR she’d be able to get some work done. 14:30 I’m informed my Mentee went home early today and will not be attending the Graduation this afternoon. This is part of “Project Venture” a collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Ocean Counties of which I’m a mentor. My mentee is a great kid but has a poor attendance record. 15:00 I pop by the graduation anyway. Hey, free pizza and snacks are not something to be spurned! A half hour later the official ceremony is over so they break out the pizza. I wait for the ravening hoard of middle-school students to get their slice on then get in line just in time to have a choice between “White” and “Stuff we swept up off of the floor” topped pizza. I choose the white and miss the red sauce. Man those kids can eat! 16:00 “Small World” moment: One of the BBBS coordinators has looked familiar to me since I started the program back in September. I finally take the time to chat her up and figure out that we probably have met before. Turns out they have a branch office at the same church where I used to drop off non-perishables for a food-pantry. Neat coincidence. 17:45 I have left the office and I’m heading to Tatum Park where I will meet up with the family for a short hike in the woods to replace one of my geocaches that had been vandalized. 18:00 I’m listening to an Audio Book version of “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot. Funny stuff. Much lighter than my last book which was “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. “Tell me about the rabbits again George!”. 18:15 Hiking in the woods with the family! Allison picks every flower she sees and gives it to one of us. I show her a game from my childhood where you hold a Buttercup under your chin. If your chin turns yellow… you like BUTTER! This amuses Allison to no end – especially when it turns out that Heather, the lactose intolerant member of our party, is incongruously a big butter-fan. 19:15 Back to the cars, Allison decides she wants to ride home “with Daddy”. I treat her to some James Herriot who is relating an amusing anecdote about the time the pigs got out and ran down town. She sometimes likes the “Grown-up stories” I listen to. Separated into bite-sized chapters this one is a good fit. 20:00 Munching Cheddar Bacon Burritos as the Birthday Dinner. Yes, they are yummers. 20:30 My mother-in-law pops by to hand me a B-Day card (Thanks!) and asks if I had seen the Chewbacca Mom video yet. We pull it up and it is indeed very funny. Her laugh is contagious! Allison also thinks the lady is giggle-worthy. We then watch Star Wars Wookie clips instead of reading a bedtime book. YouTube Parenting! 21:00 Allison’s Bedtime story features Chewbacca who accidentally ends up crashing his spaceship in Cliffwood Beach, NJ and is then tormented by a butterfly that keeps landing on his nose. Eventually he re-wires the Dalton family cars into a new spaceship & rockets away. As he settles in for a nap the butterfly lands on his nose again & flutters in the snoring Wookie wind. 22:00 Time for some Throw Back Thursday action pulled from the old slides I had developed for my birthday present from Heather. Horse. Heh. 23:00 Tired of fighting with GSAK trying to set up way-point filters for the trip I think I will instead turn in for the night. I had a good day. Here’s to another year!