Monday, August 10, 2009

Ich Habe Ein Kopfschmerzen

5 years of German language classes from 8th-12th grades, a former near-mastery of the German language, and this is one of the only phrases that I easily recall. This is one of the only sentences that pops into my head automatically when the situation calls for it, and rightfully so, I guess.

Translation? I have a headache.

Boy do I ever. Not at this moment, exactly, but frequently and habitually.

I am a chronic headache sufferer. I occasionally suffer from a migraine, but they only hit me about 3-4 times a year. At least, that is how often I get the really bad, can't do anything but sleep, kinds of migraines. No, my chronic headaches aren't that severe. Migraines, severe migraines, are a life-stopping interruption of all that revolves around you in your life. Everything is forbidden, people understand, there is sympathy. Chronic headaches are a dull haze that shadows your life, but you still have to go on. You still have to work, and cook dinner, and drive to the bank, and function. People feel sorry for you if you have a headache, but they don't expect you to stop your life until it goes away. That is reserved for the migraine sufferers. Mike is a rare treat in that he always makes me stop and take my medicine and he understand when I can't function like I would like to, because of a pain inside my skull.

I have had headaches as far back as I can remember, and there has never been a definitive reason found for them. When I was really young, about 6 or so, I started getting them, and at that time, we thought it was because I have such long thick hair, and the weight of it was pulling on my scalp, creating pressure and giving me a headache. We stopped pulling my hair back in a high ponytail, and the headaches eased for a while. But they never really went away. When I was a teenager, the doctors said it was from hormonal changes, when I was a young adult, they thought perhaps allergies. Now, they don't have any answers anymore. It is just something I deal with.

What triggers them? Well, let's see.... certain smells, if the light is too bright, if I don't keep my glasses clean, if the music is too loud, they are worse in the fall and spring, they are worse if I pull my hair back tightly, they are worse when I don't get any caffeine, they are worse when I am stressed, they are worse when I get hormonal, they are worse if I dont get enough sleep, but they are also worse if I sleep too much, they are worse if I cry, or when I get a cold, or when I have been in a car too long, or, or, or... you get the idea.

How do I cope? I do just that, I cope. I am personal friends with Aleve. I try to get enough sleep, but not too much. I style my hair in the most relaxed way possible. I try to control my stress, etc. I take over the counter medicine that chases away the pain, and I pray that it won't come back for a while.

So to those of you out there who have chronic headaches, I understand. I really really do. I understand the half-closed eyelids and the sad smiles that say that you are coping. I understand the need to just sit and rest for a moment. Most of all, I understand that you want people to care when you quietly sigh and say once again "Ich habe ein kopfschmerzen".


  1. I can SO relate to this. And let me tell you, Excedrin Migraine, even if it's not a migraine, will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

  2. I've heard this about Excedrin Migraine before. We need to keep some handy, because sometimes Aleve doesn't cut it.

  3. You can't say "Ich Habe Ein Kopfschmerzen". "Ein" is singular while "Kopfschmerzen" is plural :-)
    Germans merely say "Ich habe Kopfschmerzen."

    But I really hope you are doing better eventually.