Saturday, May 31, 2014

Oooh, my aching head

Since 1968 I've had a headache.  That's when I remember it as a long term event, anyway.  Having my first "career" job,  I would climb out of bed at 6 a.m. and dash to the kitchen for a swig of diet Pepsi and two aspirin -- every morning.  Usually that would last me until bedtime. 

Around 1975 Hubby introduced me to Vanquish, a form of aspirin high in caffeine.  By then I'd realized that caffeine had the ability to keep the headache at bay, even though most people believe it causes headaches.

The thing is, I've never had a migraine -- or at least what most folks describe as migraines.  I don't see auras, I don't throw up, I don't have to lie down -- I simply have an ache in my head.  Mostly it's not even worth calling it a pain and usually two Vanquish when I climb out of bed sets me up for the day, especially since I've been retired.

By the time I quit teaching I was taking the Vanquish a ridiculous amount of times a day -- but it also seemed to help the arthrtis aches, as well, so I wasn't especially worried.  Once I quit pounding concrete floors and feeling stressed out, the headache lessened enough to need only 2 capsules in the morning.   

I don't tell my doctors about the headache but I do list the Vanquish on my list of meds that I take daily.  Most doctors have suggested that Tylenol might be a better solution but that simply doesn't work for me - ever, not even for the smallest pain or ouchie. I believe I could swallow a whole bottle, and except for getting sick to my tummy, I wouldn't touch a single ache.  

The lit says that Vanquish is actually an aspirin/acetaminophen caplet with two buffers and a heap of caffeine.  Anacin is supposed to be its equivalent, but for me it doesn't come close.  Of course this may be all in my head (like the headache) but it could also relate to the extra dose of caffeine in the Vanquish.  

My new physician, Dr. Parvin, of the Center of Integrative Therapy, is the first person to question why I take Vanquish every day -- rather than just try to substitute something for it (or ignore it all together).  I told her about the headache so my last acupuncture was actually to relieve "headache" - as was my last massage.  Parvin also suggested some alternatives to the Vanquish but she actually realized my resistance and reliance on the medication, and said, "Okay, take two in the morning -- yes, every morning -- but try to limit intake after that."

Bless her.  

The headache is still there -- for me it really feels like one long stretch of minor "ache" since 1968.  I can't remember a time I didn't have it in some degree of strength.  I've been diagnosed with a pretty severe case of TMJ so that probably contributes but my jaws never, ever ache and I'm NOT wearing that mouth guard they hand out (I'm sure I could NOT breathe with it in my mouth -- even if I could I'm SURE I couldn't).  When I had severe allergies the headache was worse but then three years of allergy shots really helped during the 1980's.  

High humidity days also seem to make the headache worse.  As well, of course, as lack of sleep.  Lately I've developed a brand new sleeplessness -- I don't sleep at all at night and I stumble through the morning like a zombie.  Then, in the afternoon, if I sit down to read or watch TV I fall asleep sitting up.  So the following night I repeat the pattern -- up all night, zombie-like all day.  

This morning the headache was a pounding, nasty deep pain in the front of my head.  I've had the two Vanquish but I can tell that this is probably a six Vanquish day -- if not eight.  Napping won't help -- it will only keep me up longer tonight when I do finally try to sleep.  Sometimes, if the headache is really severe (and this actually quite rare -- probably like most people who get a pounding head once in a while), laying still in a dark room may help.  

Otherwise, you just grin and bear it -- and be very grateful that Bayer keeps producing Vanquish.  I can't find it in the stores these days (it was popular only during the 1960's and '70's) -- but I can order it in bulk on-line.  I get a case a year of the stuff, delivered right to my door.  It's salted in all my purses, pockets, and travel bags.  It's probably a case of "if you believe," the pain will abate.  The 40 year headache may not go away but it can be ignored and most of the time, actually not noticed.  

Like the "bad" back pain, the headache is just something I've learned to live with and accept.  Interesting the things we are willing to accommodate - and those we find totally unacceptable.  Being retired, this lack of sleeping at night is probably really not so problematic.  I could actually sleep anytime I really wanted to -- but THIS problem I want solved.  I don't even mention the back or the head to my doctors; I only complain about the sleeplessness. 

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Didn't you say that Vanquish is loaded with caffeine? Is that related to your sleeplessness? I know that I can handle one large 2 shot mocha in the morning and after that, no caffeine passes my lips. Hope they can figure out something that works for the head AND the sleeping. Even retired people enjoy having a normal sleep routine! xoxo