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Cluster Headache PSA

1:30 PM -- Okay, I'll admit it, I'm taking steroids.

Now, before you go dashing off some screed to your Congressman, let me just say that I was not injected by Jose Canseco. Not that I know of, anyway.

No, I'm taking a type of corticosteroid to treat headaches.

Here's the deal: I'm having cluster headaches -- the frequently recurring, debilitating, and completely unpredictable kind. The onset, for me, takes five to ten minutes and, once a headache reaches its peak -- the most painful part -- it lasts anywhere from one to two hours.

To add to the drama, nothing at the drug store -- Tylenol, Advil, aspirin, Aleve -- is strong enough or fast-acting enough to stop a cluster headache. I found this out the hard way. I've also tried relaxation therapy, yoga, and just generally yelling a lot, and those didn't do the trick, either. But I still yell a lot just for fun.

Now the good news: Cluster headaches come and go in cycles. Like Hollywood sequels. They'll absolutely bombard you for several days -- maybe weeks -- then they'll go away for days, months, or even years. The headaches themselves do no damage, and they're not indicative of any kind of disease or other abnormality.

I'm boring you with this because it's a problem that I had for quite a while before I actually decided to get properly treated. Waiting was a stupid mistake. A Dukes of Hazzard, if you will.

Sometimes a headache isn't just a headache. And it's important to know the difference between clusters, migraines, and other stuff so you don't start treating the wrong thing and make the situation worse. (Example: My doctor's father, a Revolutionary War veteran, wanted to try leeching, and his father suggested decapitation, which is against my religion.)

Anyway, if you suspect you're having anything resembling a cluster headache, go see your doctor. He can't cure you (yet), but there's a variety of things you can do to treat the symptoms.

Take me, for instance. Over the next few days I'll be taking my medication as prescribed, and I know that it's not hampering my abulitee to wrutw at akk.

I'm felpofa; weoirug9r [email protected][u-j.!!!

— Phil Harvey, Pain and Suffering Editor, Light Reading

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