Thursday, 21 October 2010

Confusion & Unpredictability

It's unfortunately been a while since I've been up to adding a new post. My intention was to start getting into some detail about how I was planning to treat my illness but my health has taken another downturn lately.

Before all this started, I had some problems with face and head pain in the form of TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint ... the joint that holds our bottom jaw to our skulls) inflammation and cluster headaches. Alas the cluster headaches seem to have returned. This isn't entirely surprising as, by their very definition, cluster headaches come in...well...clusters. You get them everyday for a while and then they go for a while. They are also known as 'suicide headaches' and, now that I've experienced them, I can vouch for that description not being too dramatic. I can completely understand why sufferers kill themselves, or maim themselves, to get rid of the constant and extreme pain. Best description I can give is a hot poker being stuck through the eye. Not nice. It actually creates a strong desire to gouge out whichever part of the head/face is currently painful and sufferers have been known to cut chunks out of themselves in an attempt to stop the pain. Thankfully I'm mostly too weak to go in search of sharp objects ;)

Anyway, all this means that my plans have had to change slightly. I didn't want to put any other prescribed medication into my body but I'm reluctantly going to have to start taking beta blockers again as they seem to be the thing that gives me some relief. Apparently something to do with constricting blood vessels and quietening down pain receptors. I got a bit spooked when the headaches started up again as they did so at the same time as my new supplement regime. So, I temporarily stopped taking anything else for a few days until I worked out it was the return of cluster headaches. Now I'm gradually working back up to full dosage of the supplements and I'll post details of what I'm taking in due course.

Which leads nicely onto what I want to talk about next. I thought I was being so very smart by reading up on every supplement and drug under the sun to see what the latest research findings were and what might benefit me. Unfortunately it hasn't quite worked out as planned though. The more I learn, the more confused I become. For example, imagine you never did any research ever and your doctor said to you: "take these pills, they will make you better" ... all nice and simple, right? Now imagine you decided to do a bit of research on those pills and found lots of documents pointing out they were dangerous and ineffective and then lots of other documents saying they were the best thing ever. Who to believe?

With a few exceptions, I can now make convincing arguments about why something is beneficial, pointless or potentially damaging. Very frustrating for someone like me who works with absolutes and needs black and white answers. However, I need to take something rather than just letting nature take its course so I have to weigh up all the conflicting evidence and bite the bullet. I will and I have. More on that in a future update.

Finally, my symptoms now include light sensitivity and noise sensitivity. The sound of my cat cleaning itself or the washing machine has actually become painful to me and the light is a problem too, even at low levels. All this means I am now having to use sunglasses and ear plugs indoors and will probably have to move into the spare room where I can avoid the everyday noises and activities of the household. I really don't want to cut myself off from what's going on in my own house but I think I'm going to have to take notice of these symptoms and act accordingly. Sorry I don't have anything more positive to report for now but at least the unpredictability of this illness keeps things interesting!

take care,



  1. G'day Barry, I have read through all of your posts and your story sounds very much like my own, similar symptoms and to the same degree. The orthostatic intollerene stuff drives me mental because on the od day when you have a bit of energy etc you still can't do anything other than lay around because standing up is a nightmare! I got sick shortly before last Xmas and like you I have seen a steady flow of new symptoms appearing. I believe this is normal for the first 2 years or so and then many people seem to settle down and have a bit of improvement. Anyway, have a read of my blog if you like ... it's good to share info around ...

  2. It sure is a cruel illness Lee Lee. Staring into space loses appeal after a while huh? I'll defo check out your blog as I'm trying to take onboard as many different perspectives as I can. I think the more I come to learn the more I realise everyone is different and there is no single 'best option' when it comes to treatments.