Monday, 17 December 2012

Day 1460 - Electro Smog / Electromagnetic Sensibility

Due to the introduction of mobile phones, computers, CCTV cameras, satellite televisions and digital radios, our lives are enveloped in electronic radiation. This phenomenon has been described as 'electro smog', so all-pervasive are the pulsing microwave signals that surround us on a daily basis. 
Of course, we cannot see all this electronic activity, but if we could, the sight would be dramatic. Stepping from somewhere free of modern electronic gadgetry into a Wi-Fi active zone would be the equivalent of walking from a peaceful country lane onto the hard shoulder of Spaghetti Junction. 
EMF Sensitivity is an adverse health reaction, similar to an allergy, caused by the radiation emitted from cell phones, microwave or cell phone towers, radar, satellite, infrared, ultrasonic devices, Wifi, WiMax, GPS, RFID tags, computers, power lines, and other electrical equipment.

Some studies suggest that as much as five per cent of the population may already be suffering from headaches, concentration difficulties, chronic fatigue, irritability and behavioural problems because of this electro smog.*


I remember watching a documentary a while back on wifi radiation. Those interviewed were Scandinavian women who were severely affected by wifi radiation. This caused them all manner of ills, from a general feeling of malaise to more severe aches and pains. As a result of their sensitivity to radiation, they had to entirely plaster their house with what was effectively tin foil which, as far as I understood, would prevent the radiation from entering the interior of the household.

It has crossed my mind that my headache may be due to wifi sensitivity. However, I haven’t noticed any difference in the headache when travelling to remote areas with no wifi or mobile phone signal. I wonder if the effects are immediate? Do those with wifi sensitivity notice an immediate headache when they are in an area with radiation and does it ‘switch off’ as soon as they are away from it?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Day 1342 - Viscountess Anne Conway & The Headache That Lasted For 48 Years

When my sister sent me the above photo I immediately asked her where she had taken it. Oddly enough, her answer was ‘In a museum’. I immediately Googled “Viscountess Anne Conway + headache” and soon discovered that Anne did indeed suffer from a mysterious headache for virtually all her life. She died in 1679.

I wonder what people thought of her headaches back then. Did they think she was a hypochondriac? A liar? A witch? An emotionally unstable, neurotic woman in need of some fresh sea air?

Anne was actually a highly respected 17th century philosopher, metaphysicist and intellectual whose ideas and criticisms on Descartes and Hobbes influenced later writers.

Her debilitating chronic headaches are mentioned in a number of sources. From what I have researched, I am unable to say whether Anne suffered from one persistent headache or a series of continuous attacks. It seems to me it was probably one continuous headache, but given that most people do not even believe such a thing possible, over time I think some physicists and historians may have eventually settled for ‘headaches’ in the plural.

Her severe headache perplexed friends and doctors alike, leading her to try all sorts of (dangerous) cures including mercury and opium, albeit to no avail. In a desperate attempt to cure the headache, Anne even travelled to France to be trepanned. No one dared proceed with the operation and eventually her jugular arteries were opened instead – an equally risky procedure. A renowned alchemist and healer was even invited to Anne’s country home to try and rid her of the debilitating pain, but her headache persisted. It continued to baffle eminent physicians and doctors for the rest of her life.

It appears her headache started at the age of 12. It was initially attributed to her excessive studying habits, although a number of sources claim it started following a severe illness accompanied by fever, which left a lingering headache that continued for the rest of her life.

The headache had a clear influence on her life and ideas:

“The way her own suffering from increasingly debilitating headaches contributed to the development of her philosophical assessment of pain as an integral part of the process of purification adds an autobiographical element to her writing that is all too often ignored in the analysis of philosophical systems.”***
Anne was not considered mad, mentally unstable or neurotic given her constant headache and pleas for help. If only our doctors, like those four centuries ago, believed us when we say we suffer from a continuous headache that never goes away.


Monday, 25 June 2012

Day 1285 - It's All In Your Head

"Many people know about other contributing factors such as heredity, food triggers, lack of sleep, poor posture, etc., but are not aware of any psychological connection.

Headache specialists report that many of their patients resist any discussion of emotional or psychological contributors to their recurrent headaches. Some people fear that pursuing this avenue could uncover evidence of "mental illness." Others feel that the existence of these factors would make their pain less real because it would then be "all in their heads". In just about all cases, neither of these 2 things is true!

Headache is definitely a biological disorder. However, since the body and the mind are interconnected, your emotional and psychological states can have an effect on your overall health, including your headaches. Here's why:

- When your emotional and psychological systems are in good working order, they help to create a positive environment that contributes to the health of your body.

- When these systems aren't working so well...for example, if you feel anxious, depressed or angry on a frequent basis — and especially if you find it difficult to shake these feelings — a negative environment can be created in your body that may contribute to a specific headache episode or create a fertile breeding ground for headaches to occur.

The relationship between anxiety, depression and headache is not fully understood. However, it is known that the brain chemical serotonin plays a role in all of them. Some headache specialists have theorized that these disorders may share a common mechanism in the brain.

Research has shown that some chronic headache sufferers also suffer from depression and/or anxiety. It is important to note that these sufferers' psychological conditions may not be caused by their headaches. Rather, tendencies towards depression or anxiety may be inherent in their personalities or ways of thinking. Or, they may be the result of an intense and prolonged level of stress which may lead to psychological conditions such as anxiety or depression. Regardless of the cause, having frequent headaches and feeling a lack of control over them may cause an existing condition of depression or anxiety to worsen. This situation can easily snowball, creating a vicious cycle of headache and emotional distress.

Unfortunately, emotional and psychological factors are often not considered in the treatment of headache. Doctors (especially those who are not headache specialists) tend to emphasize medical treatment — and rightly so. This is the traditional "first line of defense" and is effective for most headache patients. So is appropriate to start — and, for most, to stop — there. Also, some doctors today are cautious not to focus on psychological factors during the earlier stages of headache treatment — possibly overcompensating for the days when many doctors treated patients as if the pain was "all in their heads."
Doctors who do bring up psychological contributors as a possibility often find that their patients want to avoid psychological treatment, fearing a "mentally ill" diagnosis or having a concern that the presence of these factors would mean that their headaches are not a serious medical problem. This is very unfortunate because nothing could be farther from the truth!"*

It has taken me over three years to write this post.

When the headache started - which now seems all those years ago - I went to see a psychologist about it. The headache had exacerbated to such a degree that I was unable to work and felt completely depressed about my situation. After telling her about the distress that the headache had caused, she looked at me, arms gently folded over her lap, and stated “It must be such a headache having this pain!” and gave a little chuckle. I brushed aside this silly joke, ignoring it and thinking that maybe she had unintentionally let it out. However, when the very same joke repeated itself over the course of the next sessions, I felt hurt, frustrated and angry that a person contending to be there to help could actually end up aggravating a situation. I could bear it no longer and after a few sessions I left. That was the last of any psychological treatment I have undergone.

The possibility of the headache being related to a close friend’s death which took place a few months before the onset of my headache, has crossed my mind more than once. But nearly four years down the line I do not think the headache is related to this, or at least entirely to this. It is possible that I have not yet recovered from the shock of losing such a close friend. I truly believe there is a strong link between body and mind and that a traumatic event can undoubtedly have consequences on one’s body. The passage above taken from a Headache Centre webpage discusses this in further detail. Just today I also came across an article on the BBC website on a similar topic.

The reason it has taken me so long to write anything on this is that I am unable to draw the line between the “it could be a psychologically caused headache ” to a “it’s all in your head” (i.e. fictional). I am certain, from the manner in which this question is usually addressed to me, that by ‘psychological’ the word ‘fictional’ is intended. Does anyone feel the same?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Day 1214

Just yesterday I spoke to someone over the phone and asked him how he was. “Just a bit of a headache today”, was his answer. Needless to say, all kinds of thoughts flashed through my head. I could not bring myself to say “Oh, sorry to hear”, as one would normally do. I just brushed it aside muttering some sort of a “I understand” under my breath. I find it impossible to empathise with people who have ‘a bit of a headache’ – if only they knew.

I must admit I have become more and more secretive about the Headache. When It started I told virtually everyone about It, hoping that someone along the way would have an acquaintance with a similar story and know about a miraculous cure; but as time has gone by, I have not dared tell any new friends. The only people who currently know about It are those whom I had originally told.

In my mind there is a stark division: the before and after It started - those who knew me already, and those whom have only known me with a headache (much to their ignorance). I sometimes wonder if they would think of me any differently if they had met me before.

As a reader of this blog rightly suggested, having our headaches has undoubtedly led us all to explore different paths in life. In a way, there are many new and different areas that I have looked into to find a cure. I have learned and assimilated so much new information that I would certainly not have acquired otherwise; but I can’t help thinking how much better my daily life would be without this witch of a Headache, without having to open my eyes every single morning and have the side of my head pressing in – a wonderful reminder that it is always there.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Day 1121

The three year headache anniversary passed unnoticed – or should I say ignored. One year, two years, three years.. it nearly seems to make no difference anymore. It’s been dragging on for so long that my hope that it will cease is waning.

I wish those who didn’t suffer from this wretched thing could understand how awful it is. Having a constant headache is so tiring, it makes the world so much heavier, every moment drags on for so much more, even when it's a fun moment, it's always somehow ruined because nothing is ever perfect, there's always that horrible headache reminding me that something is wrong.

One of my greatest passions is reading and yesterday, as I was reading a book, I had to stop for a while as the headache – for whatever inexplicable reason – was quite strong at that moment and it made it hard for me to concentrate. So the headache is always there, reminding me of its presence (don’t worry, I won’t forget you, dear) at every moment. Even when I have a few moments to myself, to sit back and relax, the headache topic inevitably comes up. I question it but soon get tired as I have no answers, and try to brush it aside.

I have learned to try and not ponder too much on its presence, to try and get on with daily life as much as possible and not let it interfere with my life, but the truth is that at times when I go to bed, I sometimes wonder ‘What if I just don’t wake up tomorrow?’ The truth of the matter is that, as much as I can ignore it, I realise that it is not normal to have had a headache for three years and sometimes I worry that the wretched thing may play its final joke on me.