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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Wednesday
Jan162008

I look better with an entire head.

I was dreaming that half my head was gone. I was looking in a mirror, and I was only half a head. That's strange, I thought, I must not be looking closely enough. I woke up and the right side of my head, from the eye down, was a block of pain. Not throbbing, not searing, just pain itself. Even the roof of my mouth was pain. Touching it with my tongue brought tears to my eyes. It was 5 a.m., what was I supposed to do now? People don’t simply get up at 5 a.m., that's ridiculous. After three or so minutes of mentally mapping the contours of my new agonizing head space, I got up. I went downstairs. Our house is shockingly loud. Every floorboard explodes upon contact. BAM. POW. SHE'S HEADING TO THE KITCHEN. Izzy the cat was freaking out that she had company. Hey! I'm up too! Let’s bat at some Legos together! Hey!

I found the appropriate painkillers and I took them and I ordered them to get to work. Now what? Now I would Google, of course. "Sinus pain without congestion." "Sinus pain + no congestion." "Sinus agony turns out to be sudden fatal tumor." As usual, I found message board after message board with people listing their symptoms, people who have been in discomfort for weeks. Why don't they go to a doctor? I had been conscious with this pain for 15 minutes and I could barely stand it. The advice on the boards was always the same. Contact your doctor. Stop writing to the Internet and call someone who can see you in person.

When I realized the Advil was kicking in and I was getting drowsy, I hurried back to bed. My brilliant and also gorgeous husband brought the child to school, and when I woke up at 10 a.m., the head pain was gone. I have no idea what that was, but thank you, head, for getting rid of it. Please don't let it happen again. Especially not before it's light out.

Reader Comments (33)

The one-sidedness makes me think it might be a migraine. They sometimes do feel like sinus pain. I'm glad you got it to go away!
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterannie
I totally agree with Annie. The pain makes you want to shoot yourself in the head. My SIL gets 1-2 of those every month and needs special meds ($20 per pill) to get rid of them.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAEMom
I'd guess migraine, too. Mine tend to be one-sided and sinus-y.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathy
I get those sometimes and I'm fascinated to hear that it might be migraine. It's possible I've been having migraines all my life and didn't know it. Weird. Glad yours went away!
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKizz
I get that pain and it's usually associated with high pressure weather systems. Here in Calgary, Alberta we get something called a Chinook. It is where it is cold and then within a matter of hours a system blows in (literally) and it's warm out. Those systems bring high pressure in quickly and it kills me every single time. I take an Aleve and that helps. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I can't even open my eyes.

Oh and I have the Aleve brought back with people who I know are visiting the US as it's not available here in Canada.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterheathercoo
I agree with the other commentors who suggested that it might be a migraine (to me, they seem kinda like an endless ice-cream headache, but just on one side). Another (not awesome, I'll admit) possibility is tooth pain, especially if you still have your wisdom teeth.

Here's hoping it never comes back!
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermarisa
I was totally going to say migraine too, especially since going back to sleep got rid of it, which is sometimes the only thing that will work for me, I say the sleep got rid of it, because advil would have never done the trick for me at least. Sensitivity to noise is also a clue.

They are no fun that's for sure! Glad it went away.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSAndi
As I am from a family of migranial people, (I just made that word up I think) I feel for you. I just read Joan Didon's "In Bed" last week. Headaches suck- may you have no more... xo
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramy
migraine. migrainemigrainemigraine.sorry :(.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterleonie
Sounds like a migraine to my untrained, nonmedically informed ears.

That or you've been sniffing one too many funky books at your library.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy
Dreams are strange when real-life pain intercedes. Last night I dreamt that I (this is gross) had teeny little cockroaches srcabbling about at the back of my throat, and I kept coughing and spitting them out. And then I woke up to an extremely sore throat that made swallowing feel like I had little knives at work back there.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMamaCarter
I dreamed that I was kissing my friends husband. Well, not really kissing him. Just standing like we were kissing. And I could smell his breath.

I don't like my friends husband. Not one bit.

I'd rather dream I was missing part of my head and wake up with a throbbing head ache than dream of kissing my friend's husband who I don't like so much.yuck.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAhna
maybe it's atmospheric pressure b/c yesterday and the day before i was totally in the same boat- woke up with it monday, had it all day (and then all night! yippee!) and then a bit yesterday as well. definitely NOT a migraine- i've had sinus headaches my whole life and i know the difference between how migraines start/progress/end vs. this. you can totally have a sinus headache w/o congestion.

for fun i usually call up my husband to let him know i'm dying of a brain tumor. 12 years later it's still not getting the laughs i expect, nay, demand.

anyway, when i'm not knocked up i take 2 extra strength excedrins and 1 claritin-D (the kind that the meth heads make me sign my life over to the gov't for) and it usually clears up in a few hours. good luck- a hot shower sometimes helps, too, and sleep. blergh.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpnuts mama
cocktail of two advil and one tylenol, an entire glass of water and a dark room. I don't like the $20 pills, they make me feel worse, if that's possible.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralecto
Do I really have to repeat the armchair diagnosis of migraine? My first one woke me up in the middle of the night as well--apparently that's a symptom. And I always get a weird burning sensation in my mouth and neck when I have one. Isn't the nervous system fun?
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I agree, (sorry) with those who have guessed that what's behind door number 3 is a migraine. They can be brought on by a number of things and they almost always strike me when I'm sleeping. Glad yours is gone (and I really don't want to tell you that they can go on for days.)Hope it never returns.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara
My DH complains of intense sinus pain with no congestion every spring. And also last week when we had all that warm weather. We have postulated allergies since his headaches always seem to get better with a generous 50 mg dose of benadryl, but having read the previous comments, I may suggest he is having a migraine the next time it happens. Hmm...:-\
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen in CT
I'll be the voice of doom and say that if it comes back, or if you in any other way feel not-quite-right, please do see a doctor. Also, for future reference, that sort of pain (worst headache of your life, wakes you from sleep, etc.) is most assuredly VERY good reason to wake someone up and have them get you to immediate medical attention.I'm glad you're feeling okay now, but...

(Forgive me, I'm a terrible hypochondriac, with just enough medical knowledge to amplify my worries to truly awesome levels. I get panic attacks when I go to the doctor any more, even if it's just for a routine physical.)
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara
I swear every symptom I've bothered looking up on the internet always gives a prognosis of "Sudden fatal tumor"!JulesHouse of Jules



January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjules
As my dad always used to say, "You're hell when you're well, but you're all the time sick." I still don't know what that's supposed to mean. But I hope you feel better.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergirlfren
another option and one that often but not always works for me: two or three excedrin (regular or migraine - doesn't matter, they are the SAME) slugged down with a coca cola and then to bed with an ice pack.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbabelbabe
I hope for your sake that this was a blip, and not a sign of more migraines to come. I get a couple a month, but they sometimes last 3-6 days, and even with the outrageously expensive pills (which do allow me to semi-function without killing anyone else or myself, thankfully), they're a bitch.

If this becomes a trend for you, or if the headaches get harder to get rid of, definitely see your doctor.

To Amy--our official term is "migraineurs." Sound fancy, doesn't it? Like we should get paid for it or something? And I remember reading Joan Didion's story in school, before I started having migraines--her description of them is what made me realize what it was when I had my first one.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTara
M'eh, entire heads are overrated. I have an entire head, and it really doesn't do much for me.

(though my guess, also, is a migraine.)
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne
I agree with all-it sounds like a migraine. Just be thankful Advil did the trick and did it quickly. I'm on the tail end of a 6 day migraine and I am ready to shoot myself in the head to end the misery. Click on my blog and read about my pain saga. But if you haven't had that pain before, it may just be a fluke thing and not something you'll have to suffer with on a regular basis. Let's hope not!
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara
Yeah, most definitely a Fatal Tumor. Happens to me every time I read WebMD, too.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuebob

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