Palm to Head

Palm to Head

I could write a lot about what’s been going on in the last month, but I’m not. If I did, it would be a mashup of margaritas, anxiety, bad dates, long walks, mental health and palm trees. Maybe soon, but today I want to talk about headaches.

My mom has always suffered from migraines. When we were little kids, she would get quiet in the car and tell us that she wasn’t feeling well. After that it was the fastest drive home possible, because once she started seeing focal points it wasn’t long before nausea would force her to pull over and be sick. When she got a migraine, she would escape to her bedroom and lay down with the lights off and a heavy magazine (usually Southern Living) over her head. We knew to be quiet and leave her alone, usually until the next day.

I don’t get traditional migraines, but I do have chronic headaches. They were at their worst right after my undergraduate degree, but have never fully stopped. For me, it’s a constant pounding above my right eye that is usually (but not always) fixed with 800 mg of Ibuprofen and going to sleep. It wasn’t unusual for me to get a crippling headache 3-5 times a week during a bad spell. Doctors and migraine medicine has never helped, and over time I’ve learned to chug water when I feel one coming on and stay as relaxed as I possibly can.

If my head hurts too bad for me to sleep, I try my mom’s migraine coping strategies on my own. One time Tim walked in to find me laying silently in our dark bedroom with a book over my right eye.

“Does that work?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I whispered back. “I think the pressure helps a little bit.”

He got in bed next to me in the middle afternoon, and took the book off my head. In its place he put his palm above my right eye. He pressed lightly on his palm, his finger wrapped softly around the curve of my forehead. And he would lie with me that until I fell asleep. I breathed slowly in the dark, the pressure of his palm calmed the throbbing in my head.

Friday night I went to bed with a headache, brought on by too many margaritas too many life stresses and not enough water. I dreamt a manic dream of alcohol and anxiety. There were crowds of people, and I was trying to find someone or something but could never succeed. People were nameless. People were fictional. People were friends. People were from my future, ones I hadn’t even me. I kept searching through this crowd and I kept failing and worrying about failing, when Tim walked up to me in the middle of the sea of bodies. He stood in front of me without a word, and put his hand on my forehead. We faced each other. Nobody uttered a sound. I felt the light pressure on my skin.

I woke up curled up in a semi-circle of pillows. A light sheet draped over my legs which were cool from the ceiling fan swirling on high. Pascale stretched out next to me, her paws at the end of her long limbs poking into my back.

It was around 3am, quiet and dark in the room. I took my hand, and placed it on my forehead. With my head still nuzzled down into the pillow, I applied pressure. I don’t know how long I held it there. Time was inconsequential. My eyes were open to look at the nothing around me, and I held my hand like that for a long time before I tried to fall back to sleep.

12 thoughts on “Palm to Head

  1. I literally feel your pain. Sometimes strapping an icepack over my eyes brings some relief (along with tons of Advil and water). I’m sorry you lost your person. 🙁 *hugs*

  2. Ugh yeah I had migraines all through highschool and into my mid 20s. Not sure what happened really, migraines have been replaced by tension headaches mainly. But at least those are easier to manage (for me)

  3. As a lifelong migraine and headache sufferer, I feel your pain. You may want to take a really hard look at your diet. In my twenties, I had a headache for 5 years with frequent migraines. My favorite fruit is oranges and I love orange juice, until I found out that they cause headaches. I gave up oranges and the five year headache finally went away. Other food triggers for me are alcohol, corn, mangoes, and rice. Triggers vary among individuals so it can take some work to figure them out.

  4. I also suffer from chronic headaches…I use those natural remedies available in some states legally 😉 haha its the only thing that works for me. Hope you can get some peaceful sleep.

  5. I feel youur pain. I’m glad Tim was coming thru in your dreams again.

    Stress is my headache trigger. Depending on stress levels, I can have them for a few hours to 2 weeks straight and no relief… A good massage and adjustment and I was good to go. The one guy I found was able to work miracles and loosened everything up in a scant 90 minutes. There was so much tension released, I felt almost drunk or high when I walked out of there. He is that good! Gawd I miss that

  6. I’m so sorry and can completely relate! Chronic migraines and headaches here. In fact, I probably have had daily headaches since 3rd/4th grade (I’m 32 now) plus migraines that at some point became chronic culminating last July-fall with 25+ a month. All of this said, my migraines are under control finally thanks to a fabulous neurologist and lost preventative medicine though I still get them here and there (fall is bad due to the sun angles for me).

    I did cut gluten and dairy and my daily headaches are gone. So, the point of this is there may be something triggering the headaches whether food or allergens or something. Elimination diets or tracking everything you do/eat/etc. can help. It sucks but for me it’s been a huge improvement. That said, everyone’s triggers are different. This is just my story and I hate my than anything when people tell me what to do so I am no way advising anything here at all other than tracking a daily food and activity and sleep log for a month or 2 and go from there.

    One other thing. I am no longer allowed to take ibuprofen at all. Too much last fall prescribed by my pcp to wait it out until I could see neuro and my neurologist banned it. Feared rebound headaches. What do you know? Now it causes them. So does Tylenol which I’ve never taken. So just be cautious with too much otc pain killers and make sure you aren’t giving yourself more headaches that way.

  7. Stress is a headache trigger for me too. Which sometimes makes my high-stress job interesting.

    And your dream made me burst into tears. I love your writing Lauren. And I’m so sorry. ❤️

  8. Hello,
    I only just found your blog, but I wanted to share a tip that has been very helpful to my mother, who suffered from migraines for years. After cutting sugar and caffeine out of her diet, they went away, and after also taking out gluten and most dairy, have left completely! She is still off these trigger foods and has had no problems. I’m very sorry for your loss and hope + pray you feel a real peace.

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