I *finally* had my appointment with the headache specialist this morning, and on the one hand, it was nice to have someone in the medical profession listen to me talk about my headaches. On the other, she didn’t really tell me anything new.
I officially have Chronic (Daily) Tension Type Headaches, compounded with Anticipatory Anxiety. I also have Rare Occurrence Migraines, which are (apparently/as of now) unrelated.
I didn’t really need a doctor to tell me that … I’ve known I fulfilled the definition of “chronic headaches” for months, and anyone I know can tell you that my headaches are tension-type. But I did learn some things. For one, my headaches are typical of “rebound headaches,” which commonly occur when people with migraines are taken off their medications. Which is interesting, since I make a point to not take medication. (I’ve taken meds exactly twice in the last year – April of 2014 and last week, both for migraines (not headaches)) Additionally, all the time I spent trying to isolate sources of my headaches over the years (reducing consumption of caffeine, gluten, alcohol, etc, etc) was pointless, since chances are high that none of my headaches have these type of triggers. Finally, my doctor didn’t find it surprising that I experience fewer/less intense headaches when I’m in new or exceptionally stimulating situations; to at least some extent my headaches are a result of focusing on them. When I have something else to focus on, my headaches tend to fade. (On the other hand, when I have really bad headaches that can’t be ignored, they take more cognitive resources to hide, so it makes sense that I have a harder time preventing them from affecting me when I’m involved in something mentally taxing and my headache is already at some high baseline.) Again, most of this was just validation of conclusions I’ve already come to.
All in all, it was nice to have professional medical reassurances that the conclusions I’ve come to over the past few years are accurate. She also gave me two prescriptions: one that should hopefully help with both the low-level headaches and the accompanying anxiety that I’ll take for two weeks and then check in, and a second to be taken when a migraine starts that will probably last me for years.
She also recommended I start a biofeedback program, which seems to me like a lot of psycho-baloney. But then, I’ve recently taken to meditating when my headaches are particularly bad because, though it doesn’t change anything after the fact, my headache intensity for at least those five minutes is significantly decreased. Perhaps biofeedback is then a way to bring the techniques of meditation into my daily life and decrease the intensity of my headaches on a daily basis. For now, though, I’ve added some psychology readings about biofeedback to my list, which is currently dominated by nuclear engineering and science medialization research…