Monday, January 12, 2015

Oxygen Therapy for Cluster Headaches

I called in sick to work on Saturday, Sunday and today. I'd like to make it in for tomorrow's early morning shift but it's looking doubtful.

My headaches are still plaguing me quite a lot but it's mostly just at night while I'm asleep and first thing in the morning after waking up. It leaves me very tired not being able to sleep through the night with each headache requiring me to get up and don my oxygen mask for the 20 to 30 minutes it takes for the headache to pass.

I started using oxygen one week ago today. I didn't try it sooner because the regimen for fighting my cluster headaches was working: daily prednisone of whatever amount is necessary coupled with 20 mg of imitrex nasal spray for the occasional breakthrough headache but that's no longer doing it.

The oxygen tanks are delivered directly to our home by a van from Alina. I inhale the pure healing air at a rate of 15 liters per minute through what's called a non-rebreather mask; a mask that helps prevent you from breathing back in air you just exhaled. The oxygen is much more effective than I thought it would be. I'm learning though that I need to stay focused on my breaths and make sure that they're long, steady and filling my lungs, not the shallow breaths that take over during a headache. Once relief finally comes it's very obvious with the headache breaking altogether in a matter of minutes. I'm careful to not come off the oxygen too soon, opting to remain on it for another 5 minutes just to be certain I've sent the beast back to the outermost reaches of my head.

I found an app for my phone that allows me to track my headaches so I can more easily see whatever trend-lines may be developing. Adding data to it is simple. I open the app at the beginning of a headache and initiate an entry. It marks the time and I fill in the rest of the details afterwards. It takes the guesswork out of trying to remember how frequently my headaches are occurring.

I track my rides and workouts and such so it figures that I'd want to track these as well. It's what I do.

So, I'm laying low these days, just hanging out at home and allowing my body to rest. I would love to be out riding but I try to not think about that. I jumped on the elliptical yesterday morning for my first workout in 9 days but I had to cut it short after developing a cramp. I didn't fight it. I have to be careful to not allow myself to become too sedentary because of my predisposition for another pulmonary embolism. That's the last thing I need right now.

Edit: little did I know that the cramp I felt was the first sign of a blood clot that would nearly cost me my left leg from the knee down. "I'll be a few hours late"



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