Sunday, December 30, 2007


My mother did, and my two sisters and I do, get headaches. My mother's mother had severe sinus headaches to the extent that she had surgery to the sinus above her left eye and was left with an indentation there. My headaches are usually on the left side, with pain around and in my eye. My mother and my sisters have suffered from migraine headaches. My mother had a prescription for Percodan, in the days that that was prescribed for headaches. The currently prescribed migraine medications don't help my headaches. For relief, I have recently begun to rely on over-the-counter Excedrin, as the caffeine diminishes the pain. My headaches never last more than three days, for which I am grateful, especially this time, because next Wednesday I start the classes which I hope will lead to a job in a medical office, clinic or hospital setting, one of the few settings in which I can work because there are the least number of environmental triggers for the headaches I experience.

Today's gouache and watercolor painting with chalk pastel added, which I did in the 1980s, is called "Woman With Windows." It occurred to me today that she looks as if she might have a headache, too. I haven't been able to do much for the last couple of days except sleep and read through the headache while taking Excedrin.

The main triggers for my headaches are environmental mold, smoke, incense and scented candles. Most unfortunately, this excludes me from many settings which would otherwise be relaxing and peaceful such as the houses of friends, libraries, old bookstores, antique stores, greenhouses, many historical houses and buildings, damp houses by the ocean, some churches and many meditation groups. December is a difficult month for me because of the prevalence of greenhouse-grown poinsettia plants, which I love for their exquisite redness and greenness, although I have to limit my exposure to them as much as possible -- something not easily accomplished, considering that they are almost everywhere a person goes.

Of course, Western Washington is a moldy moldy place for much of the year, but my home is free of mold. That is what makes it possible for me to live in Western Washington. It seems that there is a threshold dynamic. As long as I spend most of my time in non-triggering environments, I am free from headaches. Still, I rarely go for more than a month without, at least, a mild headache. For many years I thought the headaches came from foods that I was eating, but I have been eating pretty much every kind of food for the past month, without triggering a headache. I haven't consciously eaten anything in the last few days that might trigger a headache. Overripe fruit with its attendant mold is a trigger. It is possible that I ate some overripe fruit. I am not sure exactly what caused this headache but it is characteristic of a headache caused by environmental triggers or overripe fruit.

The headaches became particularly severe and frequent when I was a volunteer shelf-reader at the local public library. It took me several years to figure out that the headaches were triggered by the many wonderful old books for children. I loved volunteering and knew that I would enjoy working full-time in a library. If not for the disabling headaches, that would be my choice of work. Doing research in a library is not possible for me and limits options for returning to college.

Odd. I just got an email dated February 23, 1970, from The Teaching Company. That was the year that my boyfriend spent in Da Nang in Vietnam. That would have been during his first month.

That's it for now. Looking forward to being free of this headache for the last day of 2007. May all beings be free of headaches.

May we see the beginning of peace, if not the end of war, in 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Email from 1970? That's a little odd, huh? I'm sorry to hear about the headaches. Smoke and artificial odors, of almost any kind, irritate my membranes, but not as bad as 3-day headaches. There's a shiatzu point in the web of the hand, the fleshy part between the thumb and index finger. You'd find it by pressing around, locating a tender spot, usually up close to where the bones come together, then massage in a circular motion, pressing into the pain you find there. Works for mild tension headaches, but I don't know about yours. Might help, though, if Excedrin's all you got. I know, this is coming a little late, but for future...
I really like that painting, "Woman with Windows." Soft, feeling treatment on the face. I think if she's in pain, she's somehow at peace with it.