Ever since I can remember, since I was a little girl, the word headache was far too frequent in my house. You see, my mother suffered from severe migraines. I vividly remember her crying from pain as the doctor would come and give her a cortisone shot or going to my Bobby and Zaidy Glicks’ house when she was in the hospital. Unfortunately, this headache phenomenon spread like wildfire across my family; my father also started getting migraines, as did I and my younger sister Chana. It got to the point when even saying the word ‘headache’ could trigger a headache, so I decided we call it something else. Funny as it sounds, we would say, ‘agh, I have a tush…’ – that became the family nickname for headache. Interestingly enough, these headaches go through ebbs and flows through life’s different stages and phases.
When I got married and moved to Sydney during the pandemic, my headaches skyrocketed. STRESS, yes, they were most definitely stemming from that. In fact, I just returned from an incredible JNF Israel trip for educators, where I barely slept and ate lots of junk (including a super trigging food for headaches, sugar), and yet I did not get one headache. I could not believe it. I brought so many drugs (I was like a pharmacy), and I did not need to use them once.
When telling my friend, who is making Aliyah at the end of the year, she said, “it’s a sign, you need to make Aliyah” (true, true!) Yet, Aliyah aside, my intuition tells me these headaches are definitely connected to my subconscious. In my few successful times of doing meditation or doing the Dr Sarno method (I highly recommend his book, “Healing Back Pain, the Mind-Body Connection”, my sister Chana swears by him), I felt temporarily at ease. During the meditation, you have to think of past and current traumas and consciously attribute the present headache to that, and it works! During the meditation, I could actually feel the headache leaving me through my hands and legs. However, when I’ve tried these meditations again, I have not always been successful, and I succumbed to the pain (or more like, I was dying), and so back to the meds I went. Nurofen and Panadol are petty medications to me now and barely work, unfortunately. Sometimes, I try not to take anything and attempt to rid the headache through other means, but alas, it can grow into a monster, and I think, “agh, I should have nipped it in the bud,” and therefore next time I pop the pills instantly.
I am on the hunt to figure out the problem causing these headaches, but it was (and is) far from easy. I have done food diaries and headache diaries. I drink a ton of water (for those thinking that’s the reason), gone to neurologists, gotten MRIs, taken all sorts of preventative migraine medications, that specific medication that many people swear by, stayed away from caffeine, fake sugars and chocolate, but to no avail.
I can’t even begin to describe how debilitating these headaches, which quickly become migraines, are. They kill me. I can’t properly function. I can’t teach properly, I can’t enjoy the beauty of life, the outings, the good food, the fantastic shiurim, or spending time with friends, family, and my husband. I can’t enjoy being. The headaches differ; sometimes, it is a shooting pain, like lightning; or a burning sensation, like fire, or just overall pressure. These headaches are not something that you can see – it is not like I am obviously bleeding or bruised – yet I feel like screaming and crying from the pain. I just want to cut off my head, and it can happen 3-5 times a week; ridiculous, right?! My work colleagues already know the drill, as they see me resting my head on my desk in between dashing to classes. I feel so bad, “I’m not faking it,” I keep saying to them. I get so embarrassed because, seriously, how many times can someone get a headache already? For me, headaches can last days, if not weeks…. And then I have a few days of respite, and then BOOM, something triggers it, and they are right back. They are always there, quietly or loudly throbbing in my head, causing such pressure and dizziness that the mere task of speaking can cause an escalation to a migraine. Even when I take medicine, which helps alleviate some of the pain, I feel so drunk, drowsy and woozy from the medications that I can’t do anything.
I wonder how many people are suffering from headaches? Although migraines are more common in the USA than asthma, diabetes and coronary heart disease combined, and in Australia, 23% of households contain at least one person who has migraines, I feel like I am the only one.* I am suffering day in and day out. I have taken the pills, done the time, and am simply OVER IT. I need to find a solution real fast and real quick; going on holidays cannot be a way of life, and therefore I need to make it into a mindset for life. I know I will find the answer, and maybe it will come through naturopathic methods (my gut tells me), but such avenues are expensive and take hard work. Nonetheless, I feel that I have no choice. I will keep you updated… wish me luck.
PS: I was unsure if such an article was worth a blog post or if it was more of a diary entry… I assumed the latter, yet I still felt the need to share. (Classic me). I also did not put any “meat”, aka inspiration, into this article. As I write this, I don’t feel inspired; I feel physically in pain and agony. I know everything that G-d does is for a reason, and I know the situation could be worse; thankfully, I am not dealing with something life-threatening, but it sometimes feels that way. Nonetheless, although there are definitely a host of lessons that can be learnt due to my headaches/migraines, I do not feel up to discovering them. Perhaps, once I have figured out coping mechanisms, tools and techniques to overcome these nasty monsters, I will share… Stay tuned for The Headache Series – Part 2 (Please G-d, hopefully very soon!)