Coping, Meds & Supplements, Treatment

Tough Girl

Walking hunched up like a terrified rescue dog, I’m trying to ignore the pain reverberating in my head. It’s a day that I should be reading on the couch, but I have things to get done. They’re small, quiet activities, like packaging up some books I sold through Amazon and moving the basil plant I just bought outside. But this damn pain has me in its grip.

Finally I give in and make some tea. Caffeine might knock it down enough for me to put books in envelopes. The kettle on the stove, I’m struck with a brilliant idea — take some Advil. While no other painkiller or headache abortive does much for me, a small dose of an NSAID, like Advil or Aleve, often brings my headaches down a notch or two.

Yet I rarely take any meds. Whether this is a tough-girl complex or fear of rebound, I don’t know. It’s not like I need to prove to myself that I can handle the pain; that’s confirmed for me every single day. Nor do I have any history of rebound headaches.

I like to think that I save the drugs for when I’m on vacation or have plans with friends. Or when my head is so bad that all I can do is lie in bed and moan. Those aren’t the motivators either. I’m just conditioned to not take meds. Maybe it’s so I have something to be proud of.

Today I don’t have to pretend I’m tough. I take the Advil and drink the tea (and get bonus antioxidants!). I’m still waiting for relief. I may have gotten too far into the migraine for it to make a difference. It’s time to lose myself in a light, fluffy book.

I wrote this yesterday but wasn’t up to posting. After resting and reading for a couple hours, I did feel better. Probably just the course of the headache and not the painkillers or caffeine. In any case, I got the books ready to mail and the basil outside.

5 thoughts on “Tough Girl”

  1. I hear ya with the “tough girl” stuff. I’m supposed to take six or seven medications several times daily. I take the minimum dosage I can stand to get by on because I don’t like taking medication if I can help it. Sometimes I’ll even end up flat on my back before I take a painkiller. Perhaps it’s just stubbornness?

    Stubbornness is certainly one of my personality traits! Audra hit it on the head for me when she said it’s about winning. If you don’t take meds, the headaches haven’t beat you.


  2. This post struck me as in some ways it was like you were describing me! I have CDH, and some days are better than others. The only thing that I have found to take my headaches down a notch or two is Excedrine Migraine. Nothing else helps. But it is rare that I let myself give in and take Excedrine Migraine. I’ll only take it on days when my headache is bad and I have something big going on, like a presentation to a client or I am standing up in my friend’s wedding. Important days.

    Since I don’t appear to have rebound headaches, my doctors have asked me why I push through the pain when I could take the pain down some. They have even told me to not be so galant, no one is rewarding me.

    In a way though, if I take the Excedrine Migraine, it’s like I let the headaches beat me. They won. If I don’t take it, no matter how bad I feel, I’ve won.

    I know exactly what you mean about winning!

    Besides, it isn’t like acetaminophen is totally harmless.


  3. My migraine doctor, who is also a migraineur, says caffeine is one of biggest causes of rebound. She said the drugs most likely to cause rebound are those that contain caffeine. Advil doesn’t contain caffeine. I’ve also read this in some of the migraine books.

    I personally don’t hesitate to take Relafen (one of the few NSAID’s I tolerate) at the first hint of a migraine, and it will usually stop the onset. While I do understand you have “transformed migraine”–aka “daily headache”, while I have migraine, I don’t understand some of the protocols you follow for dealing with your headaches/migraines. I’d appreciate knowing more of your views on caffeine.

    My take on caffeine is that it’s OK in moderation. It’s an awesome headache treatment for me, but I’m careful not not overdo it. I know I can get addicted quickly and the withdrawl is horrendous.

    I’ve seen a few doctors say that it’s OK to have up to two cups of caffeinated coffee (or the equivalent) every day. That seems like too much to me.


  4. Your comments about toughing it out are so apt. I rarely take an OTC (they don’t work anyway) or do much at all to nurse my headaches. I’ve found that when headache is a daily fact of life, you just kind of get used to it and stop nursing yourself. If i stopped to nurse myself or coddle my headache every time I felt miserable I wouldn’t get any living done. But once in a while, you do need to slow down, nurse yourself, coddle your pain, and not play Mr.Tough Girl all the time. Great post!

    Great points, especially about coddling yourself and living being mutually exclusive. I sometimes wonder what it feels like to not have a headache all the time. Friends and family sometimes ask what my headache level is at a particular time. What’s normal to me is shocking to them.

    Thanks for the reminder to take care of myself.


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