A Headache By Any Other Name

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

I used to take two Excedrin every morning.

For years.

When I’d visit my primary care and mention it, she’d ask all the right questions, but nothing seemed to help. I finally got an MRI. Two actually. I tried Craniosacral therapy, nasal sprays for slight allergy, and deep breathing.

When I started getting secondary headaches in the late afternoon and needed tylenol or ibuprofen (no Excedrin late in the day because of the caffeine), I decided to read about rebound headaches. Ahhhh. Perhaps I was taking too much over-the-counter medication. Most people recommend no more than 15 days each month.

So I stopped cold turkey. The first few days were painful, but lots of water and deep breathing seemed to help. I kept telling my brain that there was nothing to fear, that the pain would soon subside. And it did, finally.

We will see how it goes. It seems unlikely that more than 20 years of daily headaches will be over just like that. But reading this today also supported my belief that pain can be managed.

Although I awoke in the middle of the night for other reasons, I awoke again this morning headache-free.

Now let’s continue to work on those middle of the night issues :)

Other things I’m reading:

Her poetry

I put this book on hold at the library (and look at the poetry on my friend Donna’s site while you are there/ She tells wonderful stories through her photos)

“You still have your problems but they are not on the shore” A film worth watching….

Quiet Please

I live in two places.

For nine months out of the year, I live in a historic town where we walk to the library and coffee shops. The sounds of the city seem to shout 24-7: the garbage trucks beeping, the motorcycles revving engines as they show off on our small streets, horns honking, people talking as they walk home from a bar at 2am, and, since we live on an emergency route, the never-ending ambulance and fire trucks blasting horns as they race past our house.

In Rhode Island, we live in a small community situated on a salt pond with access to a barrier beach. Birds start chirping outside my open bedroom window at 5:30, waves crash rhythmically in the distance, and I hear the occasional hushed conversation of friends taking a walk. Otherwise, the quiet surrounds me.

My body likes Rhode Island better. I’ve been thinking a lot about solitude, being an introvert, and how I feel physically different when I am living an authentic life, one that “feels” right to me. This article caught my attention, and I get it. There is privilege to this life I have. Yet, to me it’s more than that. Noise hurts-physically hurts me. I feel actual pain when I am surrounded by a group of people all talking excitedly at the same time. And heaven forbid people start arguing. My heart races, and I look for the nearest room to hide in.

I have learned that my need for quiet, for time and space alone, isn’t just personality type– it’s truly biology.

One of the main differences between introverted and extroverted brains is how they respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. This is the endogenous (originating from within the body) chemical that gives us pleasure and motivates us to seek rewards. Extroverts have more dopamine receptors and are thus more likely to seek dopamine-releasing stimuli…..Introverts have fewer dopamine receptors than extroverts and are more sensitive to the negative effects of exciting situations.


These days, I am learning to accept the differences in people AND recognize the privilege I have in finding ways to live fully into who I am. My volunteer work is almost always behind the scenes. My social life revolves around family and relationships with people who value meaningful conversations. And come September, I’ll be refreshed and ready to handle the city’s noise.

Your tendency to be inward-directed or outward-directed is huge; it governs every part of the way you live and work and love.

Susan Cain

Pushing My Body

getting ready….
water ski “fail”

One of my favorite activities growing up in Rhode Island was water skiing. I’d wake up early and head to the pond to catch the smooth water.

The other night my cousin (8 years younger than I) asked if anyone wanted to go skiing. I had a moment of craziness, and thought, “why not?” It had been 6 years since I’d skied, but how hard could it be, I thought. Like riding a bike :)

After agreeing, there was no turning back. His son, my son, and my grandson were in the boat, and I jumped in the pond. Just getting the skies on in the water is an ordeal (they keep sliding up and under you…it takes some effort to get them up in the “ready” position.)

Finally, I yelled “hit it!” I barely got my butt out of the water when I felt the handle pull out of my hands. As I hit the water, I felt a pain in the back of my head, and in short order, I felt nauseous. Nevertheless, I was in, and I attempted once more. No way. This old body just wasn’t going to make it. I’ve spent two days with a headache and sore muscles. It could have been worse.

I really don’t know what I was thinking. I haven’t been exercising as much as I should. And I’m not 17 anymore! Getting old, making the transition to old age, means giving up certain things. I have been spending much time this summer thinking about how I want to live out the end of my life. It may be 25 years or perhaps less. But I’m not kidding myself now– it will be different.

Even so, I can take care of myself so I stay healthy and active. I’ll watch my grandchildren learn to swim and ski on this same pond. And I’ll love every minute of having generations come back to Carters’ Landing, the place my grandparents built for all of us.

I can’t imagine anything more joyful.