Curing Worst Headache of My Life

Exquisite pain describes the pinnacle of human suffering.

HEALTH Patient Story: Over the span of a few days, a headache progressed in intensity from uncomfortable to debilitating. The maximum recommended dosage of over-the-counter acetaminophen had negligible effect. [1] At 11 PM on the third day, I sat in a recliner, eyes wide open, coming to grips with my insufferable pain, realizing that by daybreak, it wouldn't improve and I would be enduring yet another night of sleep deprivation.

I roused my wife and said, "I can't take it anymore. We need to go to the emergency room." Even at this late hour, there were a couple dozen waiting patients in the ER. By the time I arrived, the pain had subsided a bit as a result of additional pain medication so I told the triage nurse it was currently about 7 on the 10-point pain scale. This earned me a two-hour wait. During this time, the pain, radiating up the back of my neck and around the side of my head climbed the scale to 10, as though someone was squeezing my head in a vice.

Powerful Painkillers

By 1:30 AM I was face-to-face with a doctor — my ray of hope that made all the endurance worthwhile. Bearing a smile while wheeled to radiology for an MRI, I thought, relief is in sight. No waiting days for a report, the scans returned within minutes with no remarkable results.

Then the doctor left me in the exam room for about 20 minutes while I marinated in a concoction of Tylenol with codeine and valium. When he returned, I was woozy and ready to sing Cloud Nine by the Temptations but the pain was as strong as ever. Preserving enough strength to climb the stairs after returning home, the offer for another valium was declined. Instead, I left with a prescription for a muscle relaxer and recommendation to follow up with a neurologist.

Phone Call That Ended It All

Later that morning, after the effects of the valium wore off, I telephoned my father before scheduling an appointment with a specialist. I related all the pain and suffering experienced over the past several days, my unsuccessful ER visit and the anticipation of my future neurologist visit. To this he tersely responded, "Do some push-ups." It seemed so irrational that I didn't humor him by asking how many or upon what scientific basis was his remedy founded. Rather, I abruptly ended the conversation in frustration, wondering if he lacked all compassion or whether this was beginning a sign of dementia.

Alone in the dining room, I pondered, if the suggestion works, it would save me additional suffering and financial expense. If it did not, no one would see me attempting such a ridiculous remedy. So I put the phone down and began pressing my body from the floor. One-two-three-foouurr. The headache instantly vanished like the leprosy of Naaman! [2]

A hindsight review revealed that I had been working long hours on the computer. Compounding the issue, my eyeglass prescription was outdated so I was leaning into the screen in an awkward position. This stiffened the muscles in my shoulders, back and neck, leading to a tension headache. [3] There was a perpetual muscle cramp in my shoulders, radiating up the back of my neck to my head. The intense headache, masked the source until back muscles were able to relax after a few push-ups.

I took away a few bits of advice from this experience:

  1. Try push-ups for a persistent headache before loading up on drugs. Of course, common sense should prevail since serious conditions, particularly from trauma, may require immediate medical attention. [4]
  2. Pay attention to posture and ergonomics. [5]
  3. Obtain an eyeglass prescription specifically for the computer screen.
  4. Regular exercise can prevent common health issues. For the price of one ER visit, I could have paid for a 3-year gym membership and several weeks with a personal trainer.
  5. My father wasn't ready for a convalescent home.

An unanticipated easy remedy for tension headaches caused by muscle spasms in the upper back was discovered. I hope it helps you.

Tags: subarachnoid hemorrhage, symptoms, unexpected and unlikely cure

References
  1. Frequent use of over-the-counter painkillers carries real risks. LATimes.com
  2. 2 Kings 5:13–14. Holy Bible
  3. Back Muscle Spasms That Cause Headaches. HealthCentral.com
  4. The Worst Headache of Your Life: Brain Hemorrhage Symptoms. MedicineNet.com
  5. Computing in Comfort. RealAge, healthlibrary.epnet.com
  6. Headache Basics. WebMD.com