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Stroke Diary

Going Cold Turkey


You'll remember that almost four weeks ago now I went "cold turkey" on over the counter analgesics (paracetamol and codeine in my case) and tripans (Maxalt) as my tame consultant had diagnosed me as suffering from medication-overuse headaches.

It would allegedly take 7-10 days (his letter said "a week or two") during which time the headaches would get worse "before improving markedly thereafter".

Well. No.

Actually the first couple of weeks were easy. I did have a fairly continuous low level headache but it was tolerable and I self medicated on chocolate as a substitute for proper drugs. I had a couple of days with stonkingly bad headaches but that was it.

By day 13 I was fine and headache free. Result.

Or so I thought ...

Come day 17 however things really kicked off with a bloody awful headache which lasted until early evening. That was a Friday. The next day, Saturday, was the same but I managed to sleep it off by late afternoon. Sunday was much the same. Monday it started to ease up a bit although I'd have still been reaching for analgesics in normal times.

But Tuesday (day 22) was the worst headache I think I've had ever. I felt like I was going to throw up at times and I'm one of those people who doesn't throw up. I spent most of the afternoon in bed. It abated to more sensible levels at about 5pm but continued into the evening.

Wednesday was pretty bad too although after Tuesday it was a bit easier to cope with. But it never went away. I remember waking up at 2am and it was still there.

Thursday looked like being a repeat of Wednesday so I decided to try destressing and spent most of morning mindlessly watching cop videos on YouTube while deliberately trying to keep very calm and relaxed and not get wound up by things. It seemed to fade by mid-afternoon so perhaps that worked.

Friday (day 25) turned out to be the last day of this eight day cluster of bad headaches. It was worse than Thursday's and lasted all day but did reduce in intensity at about 3pm.

So as I write this I'm on day 27 and I've been headache free for two days after eight of the most unpleasant days of my life.

It's hard to find detailed accounts of people's experiences of going cold turkey on the Web, hence the above, but I did come across someone who said it had taken her 6-8 weeks to get through it. I'm only on week 4 so it may not be over yet.

I was also wryly amused by the person who went to ER after having a 36 hour headache. No stamina some people.

Written 24/07/11

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