Saturday, June 23, 2007

Here it comes

I felt it coming. The right nostril stuffed up, my right eyelid drooped slightly, and my cheekbone started to throb slightly. Then, the apex of my eye socket began a dull ache, along with the right canine tooth. Dull pain blossomed at a spot just to the right of my spine, at the base of my skull.

A cluster was coming on. For those who haven't experienced them, they are a trip to hell in your head. The most common, and apt, description is, "It feels like a white hot poker stabbing through the eye". For whatever reason, the instinct one feels to combat this feeling is to jam something, anything, into the eye. I once massaged my eye socket so hard to relieve the pain that I bruised the bone.

Now, however, there is a magic bullet for these brutal attacks.

Imitrex is not without serious side effects, but for anyone who has experienced a cluster, it is worth it. In the deepest throes of an attack, you will do almost anything to stop the pain. You'd cut off a body part, sell your firstborn child, and convert to a wacky religion if it would help. In comparison to these options, taking a $20 pill that might give you a heart attack seems relatively tame. It certainly beats the only other real option: Waiting it out in agony, banging your head against the wall, rocking back and forth in a fetal position, and begging people to please kill you.

My last cluster, triggered by carsickness, was like a war going on in my head. When it was over, I was drenched in cold sweat and felt like I had run a marathon. It's exhausting, and it's awful. The next day, I made an appointment to talk to my doctor, got some Imitrex samples, and am a lot less scared of experiencing them. Right now, I'm waiting to see if the Imitrex or the cluster wins the race going on in my head. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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