Community, Coping

What Are Your Headache Metaphors?

“My headache feels like two people are pressing really hard on 2
different cookie cutters, fighting for the same piece of “dough” . . .” — Baldgirl With Headaches

This excellent description of headache pain got me wondering how other people think about their headaches or migraines. One of mine is a racquetball bouncing off the walls of a racquetball court. What comparisons do you use?

15 thoughts on “What Are Your Headache Metaphors?”

  1. I refer to mine as “the dark passenger”. For 11 years I’ve had chronic daily migraines & have gone every where & seen everyone with very little relief. I’ve just come to accept that “the passenger” is control for now & that there is no numeric scale to define it, no smiley to frowney faces to make anyone understand that my head feels like its on fire& I just want to bore a hole through it. The only one is “the dark passenger” who is causing all the pain! How ironic! And crazy! I keep getting reassured from dr.’s that most women “outgrow” their migraines by their mid 60’s, but seeing that I’m 43 & this has been going on for 11 years already that’s pretty cold comfort. I guess until then, it’s just me & my “dark passenger”.

  2. I have several different migraines, which feel different depending on the symptom or trigeminal nerve they are affecting.
    My least favorite is the one behind my eyes that cause spasm. My description”Like a couple of Super balls ready to escape and bounce around the room”

    Then there is the icy/hot line across my forhead “Cattle Prod”

    Then “the ever tightening baseball cap”

    The one above my left eye is “just a normal 10/10 stabbing migraine”

    When I am mostly just nauseated then it is the one with the”squirties” (you know the feeling you get around your mouth when you are head nauseated”

    Then there is the “Somebody smashed my nose through my head and it is coming out the back of my head/neck”

    My second least favorite is the “I wish I could pull my face off- don’t touch my face- it feels like painful clay.”

    Then there is the world is spinning- feels like coming out of anesthesia or after a really crazy night out.”

    I often have the “bomb ticking in my head” or a “hammer smashing my head over and over.”

    Sometimes it is just simply, loss of words then “my head isn’t screwed on right”

    And the new joint/soft tissue migraine “feels like I hit both funny bones over and over, radiating up to my wrists and shoulders. Feels like sprained ankles throbbing through my calves and legs. or Feels like the aches from the flu that nothing will take away (not advil) just migrainal. (wierd!)

    I am on day 7 of a migraine right now, today I have the “peel my face off thing”. Only 2 of the 7 days have been completely debilatating though thank goodness. I should have known better, I had that wonderful prodromal euphoric feeling that felt nothing was wrong with me, I had absolutely no symptoms. The migraines that that come after that are “hard hitting” (Due for my Botox soon)

    Well, hope you are doing well Kerrie.

  3. My usual descriptors depending on the particular migraine are:

    My head is on fire and flames are coming out of my eyeballs.

    A giant pole is stuck through the top of my head.

    My head is an egg that someone just cracked.

    The throbbing is the ticking of a bomb ready to blow.

  4. Like a rusty knitting needle is being repeatedly stabbed into the back of my eyeball. (I never knew my grandmothers, can you tell?)

  5. Like my head is being literally crushed. And my body lacks normal filters, so that every sound, even the electricity in the walls, screams into my ears so loudly it makes me cry.

  6. Luckily, the triptans are pretty effective for me. But I am left with a day or two of postdrome. I call these low wattage days or as I like to say “my brain is scrambled eggs” or “mush brain”.

  7. My descriptions usually involve various megatonnages of bombs going off in my head. Or various guages of spikes going through my eyes. Or sometimes how much surface area of my head is being shrink-wrapped.

    But I really like the scale based on hitting your head on the car door. 😉

    I also like the children’s version some hospitals use, where “1” is a happy face, and “10” is a frowny face with tears rolling down the cheeks. I’m usually a slack-mouthed face with Xs for eyes.

    Last Friday, I was hospitalized for a severe migraine attack. When the ER triage nurse asked me my pain level on that stupid 1-10 scale, I told her “23”. Apparently, that got me some snark points. It also got me an actual room in the ER, with a door that closed and a light that turned OFF, rather than just a curtained area.

    When the dr made his rounds the following day, he had evidently heard about my “23” and asked if it was any better. By then, it was down to about a 15, on the 1-10 scale.

  8. A couple years ago, I developed a scale everyone related to that was based on what it feels like when you smack your head on the side of car trying to get in – seems everyone’s done it at least once. So, that feeling would be pain level one. The next pain level was having my head repeatedly slammed in the car door, then repeatedly run over by the car, then by a van, on up to a mack truck, and the final level was the mack truck continually running over, backing up, pausing, again and again. I found it much more entertaining than standard medical pain scales and more of a challenge to draw than the smiley face pain scale.

    Lately, I don’t have that much imagination. Usually, I’m limited to “hurts” before I make whoever was mean enough to talk to me go away. But I know humor will come back soon.


  9. Brain-spike. That’s what I call it when a migraine feels like a javelin that goes in through my eye and out the back.

  10. Nothing too original – when it’s real bad it feels like an axe splitting right into the middle of my head.

    I can totally relate to the railroad spikes.

    And when people speak at just a normal level, feels like they are speaking through a megaphone held right up to my ears.

  11. have you ever seen old-time pictures of men working on the railroad? they have big hammers to get the railroad spikes into the ties.

    i feel like i’ve got one of those spikes being hammered from the inside, moving out. …

    i’ll be interested to read others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *