That’s right, I said it. At least for me, there was no stress like high school stress. Does anyone really need to write a story to explain that? Umm…not really….but I’m going to anyway. After all, I just celebrated my 53rd ‘free year’ since surviving getting hit by a school bus, so why not.
A few years ago I wrote about stress-induced vertigo in this story (link). That was a horrible time in my life. Today I was reminded of it as I was watching a young lady perform exercises while I was at PT (physical therapy). You’ll recall I just had a total knee replacement…I’m bionic now. While I was stretching my hamstring, I watched her trying to keep her gaze on a small yellow post-it note as she moved it back and forth in front of herself while she was walking a straight line. Having been challenged by post-it notes myself, (think Office Space), I just knew.
And so I asked – “vertigo”? She replied – “yes, that’s it”.
Immediately I was struck with a baseball bat of sympathy for her. My vertigo was such a horrible time in life for me and it taught me a lot about the power of stress over the human body. So for a couple of minutes I tried to share with her a couple of the more helpful exercises and readings I had found useful.
Later that night I got to thinking about how rarely I get stress and stress induced headaches since becoming an adult. It wasn’t always that way.
All throughout childhood I remember getting terrible headaches. I don’t really know what caused them or when they began. Maybe it was after getting hit by the bus. Was it my nature to be a worrier? (probably). Did my parents make me nervous? (probably). Was I pressured by schoolwork? (probably). Or maybe I bumped my head a lot and should have been wearing a protective helmet. (probably)
I have a few vivid memories though, related to these headaches. And the only thing that got rid of them or prevented them? – Excedrin! Wonderful, caffeine-infused Excedrin. If only I had found it earlier.
I even remember getting a couple of them during our Vincennes vacations, a time when there should be absolutely no stress. Grandma didn’t have aspirin. I wish I could recall the brand name of the liquid or salve remedy she rubbed on my forehead when I’d get one of those. They would get so bad sometimes they would make me cry out loud like a baby. That’s how badly they hurt. She’d pull out this bottle or jar of (something), ask me where it hurt and then would proceed to rub it on my forehead. Of course it didn’t work….only sleep worked when I was younger.
Over the years between getting hit by the school bus and all of high school, I must have had 5-8 ‘migraine-like’ headaches per year. I say migraine-like because they would make me just want to go to a dark room and fall asleep, often times feeling so badly that they would bring me to tears.
By the time I hit 9th grade, I got a little smarter. From my paper route money, I would buy a bottle of Excedrin and would keep it in my locker, top shelf. Excedrin was the only product I had tried which could thwart the progress of a headache when I felt one coming on. They were so frequent that I was constantly on the lookout.
Normally I could rely on my being able to hit the bottle in between classes when I visited my locker. On rare occasion though, I wouldn’t get the feeling until after being seated, at the beginning of a class. If that happened, I was not too bashful to be honest with the teacher and ask if I could go to my locker for a quick hit. Sometimes they were so frequent that I would carry two Excedrin in my pocket. Oh, and I soon learned that I didn’t even need water to wash them down.
High school was rough; I got a lot of headaches there. Please don’t let me forget my locker combination. What? There’s a test today? What’s this on my face, pimples! Argh!! What will I do after high school? My GPA is slipping, why is that even important….I can’t afford college and I know my parents are poor. Hey, I think that girl over there is cute. Am I good enough for her? What if she laughs at me? I need a job, but I can’t afford a car. How would I get there? Oh, and will the Vietnam War ever end? Will I get sent off to die? Should I plan on trying to run away to Canada?
And then…..like magic…..soon after high school was over….so too were the headaches. I don’t know what caused them and I don’t know why they stopped. Today I could count on one hand the number of headaches I’ve had over the past few years. When I was getting steroid shots in my knee, I might get a light one, otherwise nada.
According to the all powerful Internet, it appears that childhood headaches can be frequent and not serious. Ha, unless of course you are the kid experiencing them!
Perhaps childhood headaches were my brain’s way of dealing with stress. I tell you today that I’d choose those over vertigo, that’s for sure. If you’ve read my stories then you know I’ve had my share of occasional bad luck and near misses/kisses with death. These days I may still have the constant tinnitus, a weak right side diaphragm, (another story yet to be written), and a brand new left knee….but no headaches.
At least for me, headaches were all about the growing up school years.
PS – for the few of you have written in to me asking me when the next Edge of Sanity is coming….I’m trying….it’s hard to get my wife away from her golf clubs, but I’m working on it.