A Diagnosis - why do I always have a headache?One of my biggest fears in going to the doctor’s surgery. I’m not scared of doctors, I’m not scared of dentists, I’m not scared of hospitals, but I am scared of wasting their time. I’m scared they’ll say it’s all in my head, or there isn’t a problem, or I didn’t need to come and see them. Most of the time, I’ll stay away unless I’m really struggling – and my headaches have gotten to that point. Last year, my headaches were crippling, but they seemed to tone down after I got new glasses. I thought it was all sorted but, in February, they started coming back with a vengeance. Not being able to walk up a hill in Edinburgh due to a pounding headache was the final straw. I bit the bullet, and I made an appointment.

That’s a big deal for me!

I went to the doctor with the following symptoms:

Throbbing headaches – The biggest symptom! I’ve had some form of headache or head pain every day for the past four months. Sometimes it simply nags at me, other times it stops me completing the simplest of activity. twice a week if not more, it will turn into a fully blown migraine.
Light sensitivity – my headaches are mainly triggered by natural light, or bright light in a dark surrounding (usually in work)
Blobby vision – when the headaches have kicked in, my left eye doesn’t seem to fully focus
Nosebleeds – I haven’t had a daytime nosebleed, but I will wake up about once every three weeks to find I’ve had a nosebleed in the night
Headrush – any kind of activity gives me head rush
Pressure in ears – when I put my head down, my ears feel like they’re imploding. They never pop, and there’s no pain but it’s very uncomfortable
Motion Sickness – I can’t get on any form of transport now without getting severely motion sick. I also can’t play any kind of video game without sickness, whereas I used to be able to play 3rd person views with no issue
Forgetfulness – I don’t forget situations, or events, but I’ve found myself regularly forgetting the easiest of words. As I was talking to the doctor, I forgot the word ‘vengeance’ and just froze

The nosebleeds, the forgetfulness and the consistency of the headaches were the things that were worrying me. I told this to doctor, and asked her what she thought it could be. She did some simple tests to check I could see and feel things on my face properly, which I could. She had a quick peek in my eyes and ears, which were fine, and then she checked my blood pressure. 7 times.

The first time, it was very high, so she told me to not speak, put on my sunglasses and breathe deeply so she could test it again, and my pressure went down. It kept going down to a level she was happy with, but it was then clear that my blood pressure can rise very quickly, and very intensely when I’m stressed or in pain. This explains the headrush and the pressure in my ears – because I’m always stressed or in pain. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true!

She ruled out the forgetfulness and nosebleeds as ‘one of those things’, and in hindsight, I had nosebleeds a lot as a child. I just forgot. Because I don’t get motion sickness while walking, she ruled out Vertigo. I’m just unfortunate that my motion sickness is getting worse as I get older, rather than better. She asked me some personal questions, about work, about my home life, about my relationship and about how I deal with my headaches in work. I explained to her that I’m not really able to take time off, so I just have to work through them. When I told her about how my headaches are most painful when I’m standing in direct light in work, she looked confused.

“Which hospital do you work in?!” she asked, and then she realised. “Oh! An acting kind of theatre, not an operating theatre! Well this makes sense!”

Then, the doctor diagnosed me with chronic migraines and mild photophobia – which it turns out is a sensitivity to light that affects the eyes, not a fear of light! The photophobia is very mild on it’s own, and would just cause me to squint a bit, but alongside the migraines, and the fact I can’t escape bright light in work, it has turned into a recurring problem. She gave me some tablets to try, which I’m to take when I feel a migraine coming on. If they don’t work, I’ll be given a different tablet which should stop them occurring altogether. If they don’t work, I’ll be sent to the headache clinic for further examinations. However, she did let me know that there are two conditions to being sent there.

The first is that you don’t take painkillers for every headache. That’s fine, because I try to avoid painkillers unless my headache is going to affect my ability to work. I don’t like the idea that your body is trying to tell you something is wrong, and you can just take a tablet to stop the signal without knowing what the cause is.

The second is that you don’t drink caffeine. Tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and energy drinks are all out of question. Now I love a good cup of tea, and while I certainly don’t drink tea every second of the day, I do like a cuppa in the evening with a few biscuits for dunking. Obviously, if it means I’ll get more help with my headaches I’m happy to swap to decaf, or herbal teas as Tara suggested, but I’ll miss my cuppas!

So, I have my tablets, I have my dark glasses and I have the knowledge that there’s nothing to worry about so my blood pressure will stay down! I’m hugely relieved, though I do feel a little silly for going the doctor over something as simple as a migraine….oh well!

Do you have any tips for migraine sufferers?



5 Responses to A Diagnosis!

  • I wish I could help you 🙁 Migraines suck but I know next to nothing about them but whatever happens, it will get better. I am sure of it. I deal with anxiety and that’s tough to deal with it too. Anything out of the ordinary is tough to deal with but we gotta be strong otherwise what is life if we just gave up all the time? nothing would be accomplished but regardless, I hope you get some relief from your migraines.

  • Glad to hear you’ve got a diagnosis. Those symptoms sound awful, so at least now you’ll be able to manage them. I’ve never had a migraine, but I know a lot of people who get them and they’re definitely not nice. Andy’s had them a couple of times and we’ve ended up in A and E because his symptoms were so bad (and we didn’t know what it was). Hope the diagnosis makes things easier!

    I hate going to the doctor’s too, but it recent years I’ve just got on with it. I worry too much about what might be wrong if I don’t! It’s a pain, but it’s gotta be done!

  • I’m glad you were able to get a diagnosis. I’m especially glad you went in for a check-up since all of those symptoms sounds pretty painful and annoying. I hope those tablets work out for you, and you can also see if there are accommodations your work can make for your photophobia. I don’t get migraines, but I do get headaches when I don’t drink enough fluids, so make sure you stay hydrated! Going caffeine-free will suck, but it’s for your health . . . hope the decaf and the herbal teas make good substitute for your cuppa!

  • I think it’s better to be safe and see a doctor, so I’m glad you went in for your migraines! I don’t think you should feel silly about it because it’s a major issue for many people. I’m also glad you were able to get a diagnosis and some new things to try. That’s hard to cut down on caffeine if you’re used to it. For a while, I was drinking herbal teas because I didn’t want to have caffeine at night. I hope the tablets help and that you have less migraines moving forward!

  • Aww, I missed this post. I’m sorry you have migraines. I had no idea there is a term for light sensitivity, I have it too.

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A little-bit-of-everything blog by Katy, 29 from Liverpool. I'm not a hugely exciting person, if I'm being honest...

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