Know your headache triggers and when to react

Know your headache triggers and when to react

Stress induced headaches are bad enough to mimic hydrocephalus headaches. The last 3 days and nights, I’ve had this kind of pain. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to take any pain relief strong enough to alleviate the discomfort. So, I grin and bear.

Thankfully today, my 45th birthday, the pain has eased up (lingering slightly) and I can once again hear Sophy (my shunt). Sigh of relief! No one needs a headache to mess up the celebration of life, least of all me. I won’t be having a party or anything, just enjoying some quality me time. And appreciating, whatever time my family decide to spare. No expectation = no disappointment!

I find myself putting things into context now, before I react.

I won’t lie, the thought of whether this is shunt-related, crossed my mind at the onset. A few times, in fact. It’s the first time I’ve had this kind of headache, since my 7th brain surgery in April. I think, however, I’m in a different headspace than all the previous years, to know better. I understand my triggers and, more importantly, I feel comfortable with the surgeon I have, and trust that I no longer need to worry about it, as I was forced to do before.

This past week at work has been more stressful than most. There’s been a buildup to it all and, until the project I’m currently working on is implemented, I’ll continue to feel the pressure (pun intended).

It’ll either kill me or make me stronger!

I’ve written before about how stress adds to what we feel. This is something I can (now) recognize and deal with in a more “calm” way. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to wake up early hours of the morning with a throbbing headache and nausea. Or, work through a full day with unending stress, and worry about the task at hand. Fake it till you make it mode activated!

Remember; Life carries on..!

That doesn’t mean I take anything for granted either. If I’ve learnt anything, it’s to discern and to be more vigilant than ignorant, when symptomatic.

Hearing my shunt brings comfort

What hasn’t helped, these last few days, is the fact that I couldn’t hear Sophy (my shunt), something I discovered the first morning after my surgery. I can literally hear the anti-siphoning effect when I get up out of bed, and turn my head a certain way. Mostly when I look up! At first I found it “weird” and slightly unnerving but, in time, it has become a source of comfort. My link to sanity. Needless to say, when I didn’t hear Sophy during the torturous head pain, I started wondering if something is wrong. It’s the lingering uncertainty while I bear in mind that work, right now, is stressful and highly likely the source of my pain. Thankfully, I know that this too shall pass. If it doesn’t, I know I can reach out to my surgeon who is responsive and cares enough to not be dismissive. I just need to do my part, and get through it all, as best I can.

Unless something significant happens, I’ll try to keep it together…

I know not all shunts work this way, my previous one (Medtronic programmable) didn’t. So, for anyone wondering what I mean when I say I can hear my shunt, this question is from the Sophysa website FAQ:

Can I hear some noise from the valve implanted? Yes. This is quite frequent. However, whatever the disturbance it may cause, it also means that the shunt is functioning well. The noise is due to the rotation of the ruby ball on its seat and the turbulence induced by CSF flow through the rigid structure of the valve. These noises are amplified and transmitted by the skull to the cochlea. These noises mainly occur when the patient is changing position leading to a temporary increase of the CSF flow through the shunt. *

Despite trying to get members of my family to hear the sound it makes, I haven’t been able to. As my son jokingly tells me, with a smile: “Mum, I can’t hear anything, it’s all in your head“.


  • David Paul Rosato

    June 26, 2022 at 9:18 am Reply

    Dealing with Balance Issues beyond my Normal which has led us to seek out a New Surgeon and after running several Test the last being an Mri of my Thoracic Spine it is still a Mystery.

    Started Gait an Balance Therapy at a Facility in Crafton 3X a week to see if I can improve my Balance and avoid Surgery

    • Skyewaters

      June 26, 2022 at 10:29 am Reply

      Sorry to hear this is still ongoing for you. I hope the new surgeon can help guide you to a place where you are symptom free. Balance issues cannot be any good. I hope you get some direction sooner rather than later 🙏🏼💙

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