So after last week’s blog and realising that I no longer fall under the “chronic migraine” umbrella anymore, I was left feeling on such a high. I really was proud of how far I had come and this left me keen to take the next step in my recovery. Now, I know my focus is normally on my migraines, well unfortunately for me this is only half the story. I always knew once I had got the migraines under control (which luckily I have now), the next fight would be my tension headaches. Yay, another form of headache! Well these seemed to get so much worse as soon as I started having chronic migraines. You see, after a migraine has finished causing havoc in my body, I am always left feeling like I have done 9 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson as my neck, shoulders and back are so tender, tight and sore to touch. And Mike always, always wins these fights, hands down every time.
What I have found recently though is even on the days between my migraines, which thankfully are getting a lot further and further apart, I seem to be having a lot of tenderness and pain at the back of my skull and if I even attempt any form of exercise, this makes it all so much worse and I will be left suffering for days on end. Part of me says I should just be grateful for the progress I have made (which of course I HUGELY am) but there is always something inside of me that just wants more. Exercise was such a massive part of my life before I got sick. From the age of three I grew up dancing and it’s something that I miss so very much. Maybe I’m just being ungrateful I ask myself? Or is that just human nature to naturally want more? Should I just scrap trying to exercise altogether and not even bother? The problem is that a lot of the time I have this pain during day to day life even when I don’t attempt exercise so I know it’s something I seriously need to address. As much as I know it won’t be easy, I know it’s a battle I have to face in order to fully get my life back and become the old Christie Jane I used to be.
Anyway, where was I? So for this reason I went to see the doctor last month who referred me for physiotherapy sessions. After the consultation I was told pretty much what I already know. I have forward head posture which puts stress of the back on my neck where the skull meets the spine which is called the occipital area. This area is constantly tender and sore so the Physio suggested regular sessions to mobilise this joint, some acupuncture to relax the muscles, and exercises to improve my posture. Great, I thought! Let’s get cracking.
Well let’s just say my neck did not like the physio one bit! It would rather have been back in the ring with Mike Tyson AND Frank Bruno battling it out, as the pain I felt from the sessions became completely unbearable. At one point I lay clinging onto my husband just praying that the pain would just calm even slightly as the tears rolled down my face. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be able to heal myself from these tension headaches? How would I ever be able to live like a normal person again? Feeling low and sharing these thoughts with my friend, she lovingly reminded me that I had thought the same before with the migraines, and look at you now! So you can do it again she assured me.
I was not going to give up but I had to admit, I have really struggled to remain positive with this pain. But through some perseverance, we worked out that going every three days for a session only made matters worse. It was like someone was prodding an already painful bruise over and over which in the end was just too much to bear. My body was screaming “Give me a bloody rest god damn you!” So I listened and we started having sessions every week or so and that seemed to do the trick.
After feeling like the physio was working and having some pain free days, I decided to wake up early, put my old gym gear on and take myself for a walk around the lake near our house. I chirpily said good morning to everyone that walked past me (even the cats!) and I felt alive once again. As the fresh air filled my lungs I continued to power walk at a good pace for roughly 30 minutes. Unfortunately soon after my return, my muscles began to tighten, the pain crept over my body and I knew I was in trouble. Seriously! Now I know I need to start small with exercise but what the hell! I was fricking walking for gods sake!
For the next few days until I saw the physio my mood was low, very low. After the usual combination of massage and needles were applied to my neck, we discussed how I could move forward from here. She assured me that I just needed to be patient and believe it or not, power walking can be quite intense for the body. The old me found this hard to believe as I used to be that annoying person at the front of an exercises or dance class, with endless energy smashing out the moves dripping with sweat. Now THAT was what I called intense exercise! To the old me, power walking was literally just a walk in the park.
So as I write this today, yes I have neck pain, and yes, I have a tension headache but I guess in order to ever beat this completely, just like with my migraines, it’s not going to be easy. I do understand it is going to take time to strengthen my muscles and teach them new habits, and in the meantime, this may cause me some discomfort. I just have to be patient and keep taking steps in the right direction. I think I’ll start including seeing myself exercising in my daily Dr Joe meditations as he always manages to help. I know I might have some bad days ahead of me but just as Dolly says, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”.
#TensionHeadaches #Physiotherapy #Frustration #SelfHealing #MyJourney #Health