Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Three Days of Heaven

Over the Mother's Day weekend, I managed to get 3 days of heaven! Translation: 3 days without a significant headache. I don't really know how it happened but I am thankful it did!

On Friday night, David and I drove up to Stettler to visit his Mom for the Mother's Day weekend. My own darling mother is in New Brunswick, a long way from me, but I missed her dearly and thought of her constantly (and I'll be seeing her in less than two weeks when we go to the maritimes for vacation).

Leaving work was a rush on Friday since we're super busy on a proposal for a big engineering project. I rushed home. David had kindly bought dinner, which we rushed through, and then I packed in a hurry. Little did I know leaving town (with my back and head aching) that I was in for a pleasant surprise.

On Saturday morning, after lots of sleep, I woke up virtually headache-free. Even that small thing is a miracle in my world, where I often awaken with a killer headache.

The headache stayed away all day, which both amazed and thrilled me. We drove down to Dry Island Buffalo Jump, a provincial park west of Big Valley. I shot a roll of photos on my big old SLR of David, his Mom, and her pooch Lizzie. I got lots of nice shots with my polarizer. We went for snacks in Big Valley and then we came home, rented a movie, prepared a nice supper, and relaxed while watching "The Last Samurai" (a rather good, if improbable, story).

On Sunday, after a restless night of sleep, I managed to sleep well into the morning, and again awoke without a headache. I spent all day Sunday headache-free! I called my Mom and we talked and I missed her. But I felt so envigorated without a headache, so happy to be alive.

Despite going to bed later than planned Sunday night, I also had an excellent day on Monday. At work I was full of energy. I was alert, awake, intelligent, engaged. I haven't felt so well at work in months and months. All I could do was think of how effective and happy and blissful I would be if I had fewer headaches. Everyone noticed my peppy mood and I felt a little sad that I can't always be this way.

Well, the fun had to end somewhere. I went to bed a little too late last night, and woke up feeling like I was dragged under a moving train: brutal headache, extreme sinus congestion, a facial headache, a head full of cement, and a badly aching back and neck. Today totally, entirely sucked. My headache is simmering around a 6 right now and threatens to ruin my evening.

But I'm so happy to have had some freedom for 3 precious days. It was positively blissful to feel so intellectually alive. I even noticed during the weekend that I was chatty and engaged instead of tiring of long and varied conversations, straining to stay involved like I usually do. Having headaches is so much intellectual work. You don't feel fresh. You strain to make conversation, to be creative, to be funny, to be interested. You just feel half-dead and your conversation and level of involvement reflect that. It takes so much work to *act* normally and life does feel like an act.

So it was a simple joy to feel alive and well. Conversation was easy. I felt witty and charming. I felt bright and alert, interested and interesting. I think the "interested" part is key. When your head aches relentlessly, your joie du vivre goes missing. You feel so spiritually and intellectually drained that nothing seems interesting. Life is grey. Casual repartee, chatting with others, joking around, having fun...it takes energy, concentration, work. It isn't natural and automatic. So it was a great delight to feel "normal", to find the world fun and comical, to revel in simple conversation, to savour the company of others.

Now my albatross is back. But I have a fond memory of 3 good days to dream about.

And the knowledge that lots of sleep (9h per night) plus my new dosage of 50mg of Elavil is possibly starting to help.


  1. That's awesome that you had a stretch of headache-free (or lessened) days! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed them so much :) I hope you have more of these in the near future!

    I got down to a zero pain level for a few hours one day last week--I was really amazed and it certainly brightened my mood when I realized it! That hasn't happened in a really long time now. It was due to taking a breakthrough dose of morphine, but I don't care, I'll take the zero pain level, thanks :)

    I know what you mean about feeling like it's difficult to be interested and interesting while dealing with pain. I've been able to deal with that issue a bit easier over time, but some days it's still a struggle for sure.

  2. So glad that you had a nice little break. Let's hope that the next break is a little longer, and then the next even longer. Something is starting to work!

  3. that's so WONDERFUL. i couldn't be happier for you!! i relate so much to what you're saying. whew. i had a week headache free last summer (due to a DHE infusion), and it was AMAZING how great i felt. it's like i had forgoteen what it was to be normal, to have no pain. i felt happier than i thought i could, and i enjoyed everything so MUCH. i was worried you were gone b/c you were feeling bad, but am thrilled to hear it was the opposite! i'm sorry you are back to the norm of everyday pain, but am hopeful that your elavil will start making a real difference.