Diagnosis: Cluster Headeaches
Clusters started: January 2011
Gov't Contractor, 100% Disabled Veteran
I am a 30 year old disabled veteran with a wife and daughter. I currently work as a government contractor doing the same thing I did in the military. I can still remember my first cluster headache as if it were yesterday. I was in the Marine Corps at the time, stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA. It was MLK weekend 2011, and I was sleeping when it hit at ~2am. I shot out of bed like a cannon, and just like many people here, I thought I was about to die. My wife was pregnant at the time, and I woke her up to bring me to the hospital. I had been having migraines for about 2 years at that time, but this was not at all a migraine, I felt like a hot spike was inside my head trying to push my eyeball out of its socket. At the hospital, the nurse asked me how long I had been having headaches. Not thinking, I told her I had been being treated for migraines for over two years, but that this was not at all like my normal migraines. She left the room and returned with another nurse (apparently the head nurse), who told me that if I had been having headaches for over two years, why did I come into the ER, they were short staffed and needed to deal with real emergencies! My wife about lost it.
Anyway, while in the Corps, I was never diagnosed with cluster headaches, as it was close to impossible to see a doctor (go to the battalion corpsman, then get permission to go to the battalion aid station, then see the independent duty corpsman there, who would then prescribe me Motrin. After several months of dealing with this finally seeing the BAS doctor, who would not give me a referral to the base hospital). Fortunately, I only had a year left, and was working as a lead instructor at a range and could disappear into my office anytime a headache hit. Within a few months, my episode ended and I got out of the Corps.
The next year, I had another episode. I went to my primary care doctor, who diagnosed me with migraines and occipital neuralgia and diagnosed imitrex tablets. Needless to say, those made me feel like I was going to pass out and die. After a while of dealing with them, he finally acknowledged my condition as consistent with cluster headaches. I am still episodic, and I'm currently dealing with my first episode in over a year. I just missed a week of work because I was afraid to leave the house amidst an episode for fear of being caught out during a headache. Nobody in my life can understand the excruciating pain that CH causes. It has caused significant issues at my workplace, and I was recently told that if I miss anymore work I will be let go. I am an at-will employee on a no-fault contract, so if they decide to let me go I have no options. I have fortunately not had any serious thoughts of ending it, but if I lose my job and can't support my family anymore as a result of my CH, I don't know if I can take the pain. I just hope that the pain goes away forever, hope for a cure someday, hope for more awareness and understanding for CH sufferers.
|Jan 2011||1st CH episode begins|
|Jan 2012||discharged from MC|
|June 2013||CH diagnosis|