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Attack at night

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I already described what a cluster headache attack feels like on this blog. In this post I describe what it’s like to be waken up in the middle of a night due to a visit of the beast. I’m sure you know from reading this blog that this is not at all a pleasant experience. This is the story of a cluster headache attack at night.

Sweet dreams become sour

Another day has passed, I’ve taken my pills and go to sleep. I fall asleep quite fast en start to dream. Everything is peaceful and quiet, but all of sudden I start to feel something inside my head. Still in the dream I start to develop a light headache on the right hand side of my head. I don’t know whats going on at that stage, after all, I’m still sleeping. It’s kind of weird, though, that I experience physical sensations. I’m now at the point where I have a legitimate headache in my dream. And then it happens…

Red hot poker

It happens all too often. In my dream I see a red hot poker making it’s way to my face. I can’t move anymore and right before the poker enters my right eye, I wake up. The first few seconds I don’t know what’s going on, and boy, do I cherish these seconds. Not realising what’s happening doesn’t hurt. As is common with a few seconds, they don’t last very long. And suddenly there’s the realisation: I grab my head. The beast makes is on the attack at night. I’m in the middle of the battle.

The fight

Even though the prelude to an attack is subtle during daytime, I always feel an attack coming. It allows me to prepare mentally for the battle to come, nowadays it’s the signal to activate my SPG neurostimulator (I’ll talk about this later). At night that privilege isn’t there. Granted, in my dreams I feel a slight headache, but I don’t realise what’s going on then. Waking up with a cluster headache is the worst torture there is. No warnings, no ramp up, just being knocked in the head by excruciating pain. I take a look at the clock, it’s the middle of the night and I know I’m in for a full hour of extreme pain. I don’t know how to conduct myself, I stomp my feet, I’m sweating, I roll from left to right and back and I try not to moan out loud.
I’m starting to feel too warm to stay under the sheets. Sweat rolls down my arms and face. I’ll be in this hell for while. I rise from the bed and start to walk around the room. Now and then I hit the wall with my on purpose hoping to overrule the pain the cluster headache is causing. Off course this doesn’t work.

Finally: all is quiet

I lie down in my bed again, because now I’m too cold to keep walking around. I toss and turn some more. And then, all of a sudden, everything is quiet in my head. The pain is gone as if it were never there. I can sleep again and fearfully await my next encounter with the beast inside my head.

Attacks at night are no laughing matter, even with treatments to abort attacks (sumatriptan, oxygen, etc…). You never have a full night’s sleep and that always gets to you during the next day. The first couple of days that’s still doable, but after a week you’re constantly fatigued. Especially when there’s more than one attack at night, during the day there’s not much else to do but to sleep between attacks. Short naps might trigger new attacks, so there is a risk you get caught into a vicious circle.
I’m writing this post in between attacks on rare moments where I can think relatively clearly.
To finish this post I would like to draw your attention to the share buttons below each post. Please don’t hesitate to use them and share the stories with your friends and family. It’s important that a lot of people know what cluster headaches mean to the sufferers in order to be better understood.