Friday, June 16, 2006

The 2pm Headache

During the work week, at roughly 2pm every day, the same thing seems to happen: a bad headache starts, or a moderate one worsens. It's virtually unavoidable, and I'm not sure what the chain-reaction of triggers really is, or how to avoid it.

As I've mentioned, I often awaken with a headache, a bad one. This usually dissipates a little after I've been up a while, or after I eat something. So during the mornings, I usually have a mild-to-moderate headache of some sort, but it generally doesn't feel totally disabling. I can work and think, although I don't always feel *fresh*.

Then around 2 or 3pm every day, the pain in my neck increases, my back muscles starts to seize up, and a bad headache washes over me, often with a stabbing pain over my right eye.

A mild-to-moderate headache at noon usually becomes a 6 or a 7 by mid-afternoon. I rarely leave the office without this brutal headache. Once I'm home a while, if I'm lucky, I can take the edge off with a good supper or a rest. But more often than not, my 3pm headache continues into the evening, destroying what little "time off" I get each day.

The 2pm headache exhausts me. And frustrates me. It means that my afternoon is spent in pain, often with a fuzzy brain, unclear thinking, and an irritated disposition. It's difficult to be intelligent and productive for the last 3 or 4 hours every day. I force myself to do my work, and I hate afternoon meetings. Work is a chore each afternoon, a physical chore.

What is the trigger? Computer work is the usual suspect, with its combination of fixed posture, monitor glare, fast-thinking, and intellectual over-stimulation. Meetings and more intellectual stimulation add to the mix. Not staying hydrated or keeping my blood sugars level is likely another. Bottled air. Who knows.

I take frequent rest breaks, stretch, get up and walk around. I stare out the window into the distance to rest my eyes and my brain. I eat. I drink ample water and run to the bathroom all day. But nothing helps.

I am hard-wired for these headaches, and the simple act of working for a living, thinking for a living, triggers them.


  1. i'm so sorry; i can sense your frustration through these words. i understand how irritating it can be to not know how to 'fix' it. as if the pain wasn't enough, there's also the problem of not knowing when or if they will get better! any doctors' visits on the horizon?

  2. I know the risk of rebound, but can you try to take something before 2 pm to head it off?

    I often awake with headaches that go away too, I tend to blame it on some occipital nerve pain from sleeping on my pillow. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, exercise (gentle walking on the treadmill) kicks the headache to the curb.

    I hate trying to figure out these headaches. I'm sorry you're so frustrated too.

  3. thanks guys. yes, it is a morass of possible triggers and reasons. there is no figuring it out and it's rather irritating, but sometimes there is the odd thing that we can manage to improve things, at least for a while. it is important for us to remember that this isn't our "fault". there is no fault in illness and it isn't within our control. we can make adjustments to improve things, but those adjustments don't always work forever or consistently. headache is a function of our physiology, our bodies unique construction. i, for one, need to remember that, so i can stop beating myself up for not being able to control this!

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