I’ve been blissfully devoid of headaches for most of my life. If I got one, there was always a reason for it. And that reason was most likely – I hadn’t drunk enough water.
This changed however as I was holding the line in a stressful work in Gothenburg, where I was working in psychiatry. I think I was on the edge of burnout. I didn’t have time to work out as I would have liked.
But over a longer weekend, I went down south to my family, and did some thai-boxing.
I’ve been doing martial arts since I was 16 years old, and I’ve been helping training the thai-boxing trainer that now was in charge of the class. My club and his we’re training together some back in the day.
I was now however, horribly out of shape. The thai-boxing trainer cornered me in the ring, and landed several hard headshots. Much too hard. And he didn’t stop, I had to push him away with my last strength.
I had taken hard headshots before, so i wasn’t really thinking about it- Admittedly, it was a long time ago that I had taken a beating like that. I wasn’t really used to it anymore.
After a long journey up to Gothenburg again, I started getting getting a pretty severe headache. The next day I was working like usual, but I got headache in the evening. The day after I got a headache halfway through the day, and I kept it all night, even into the morning. I had to call in sick. But luckily, it was weekend, so on Monday, I tried again, but it was the exact same story. On Wednesday I couldn’t work anymore.
I think that what really made this a lot worse, is that if I’m home suck, to pass the time – I release my inner nerd, and I was playing computer games. Even through a severe headache. I had to take brakes, looking away from the screen, but I didn’t really have anything else to do.
It is not recommended to have any screen time if you’re concussed. After one day I felt like I had fried my brain. I had a headache for an entire week straight. I couldn’t do anything but lie in a dark quiet bedroom hoping for salvation.
It really scared me. Without the brain you really can’t do anything. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t work out, I couldn’t play guitar. I was totally useless. It was much worse than losing a limb, where you still can figure out some way to get by.
Eventually after two weeks I was extremely limited in how long I could focus, but I started getting back to work. It was a struggle. It was the only thing that mattered. Half a year I was at it, never managing to go up to full time again. Eventually my boss let me go.
That had never happened before in my life, that I was unwanted – and it was a massive emotional setback. I hit a new low. I felt like a total failure.
But I did now have some time to try get back on my feet. After reading an article on chronic fatigue, I started running 20 minutes every day. The theory was that the blood supply to the brain was somehow damaged, and this would help restructure it. It was not fun the first times I was running with a headache. Whenever a headache appeared, I would take my time, sit in silence, with no stimulation, until it disappeared- then I would wait twice as long again, before I resumed whatever I was doing. I would spend hours doing absolutely nothing in silent darkness.
Eventually, I got better. After half a year, I could once again hold down a full time job. I was working again in a hospital. I even managed to move to Denmark, learn that language, working nightshifts, with a new unfamiliar IT system. I was fully recovered.
Or so I thought. Two weeks ago I was once again playing a game, when I felt a headache coming along.
“Hmm, this feels a bit familiar”
I ignored it for a while, but then abandoned ship, and went to bed. The headache stayed with me until the following day. Just like before. Where did this come from?? Didn’t I slay this dragon?
What could have made these headaches return?
- I didn’t sleep very well that day, I just slept 4 hours or so.
- I’ve recently started using Minoxidil, a treatment for male pattern hair loss. It used to be a blood pressure medication before they realized it’s hair-restorative application. I already have quite low blood pressure. It was measured at 100/60 earlier this year, while a normal blood pressure would be 120/80 in the ideal case. The most common side-effect of minoxidil is headaches, affecting about 1/10 people.
I’ve come up with the following theory to why I once again, got stuck with these headaches:
I have an vulnerable brain circulation already due to circulatory changes after the concussion. This was made worse due to taking Minoxidil, a blood pressure medication. Then combined with low amounts of sleep, and a whole day in front of the screen – something happened.
I do not know what. Neurons got fried? Waste products piled up? The headaches are back again, even after stopping minoxidil.
What I DO know is that working out is most excellent, especially an endurance workout, – it can really help with clearing out the headache.
I also know that I start my next job in a month.
I really hope I will be OK until then.