Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Worst Headache Ever Means a Trip to the Emergency Room

If you have “the worst headache of your life”, go to the Emergency Room. If you are stubborn, like my husband, at least go to the doctor’s office or After Hours.


I mean it.

A little while back, my husband got up one morning and, in a split second, experienced his worst headache ever, and nothing either of us tried made it any better. But my husband, like so many men, is stubborn and frugal, and the thought of an ER bill for what might amount to a $500 aspirin pill kept him from doing anything until the After Hours opened at our doctor’s office.

Thank goodness, the Nurse Practitioner who checked him over knows her stuff.

Thanks goodness, somewhere in that, “I’ll do it myself” heart of his, he had the sense to let me drive him there, instead of driving himself.

A few hours later, I was sitting in a chair next to him, in the Neuro ICU, while our daughter was in the care of a good friend and her family.

What happened to my husband we’ve found hard to adequately explain. Outside of those familiar with neurology and psychiatry, many seem to oversimplify what happened, becoming either incredibly nervous or fearful on the one extreme, to nonchalant. (Sounds like an Asperger diagnosis, right?!) The reality of it all is somewhere in the middle.

In plain English, he had bleeding on the brain.

In medical terms, my husband had a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

He’s one of the “lucky” ones. When he entered the hospital, they were 90% sure he had an aneurysm, one of those nasty things that often takes lives or damages its victims in its wake. But testing showed a subarachnoid hemorrhage, instead, which isn’t much better. In fact, many who have it do die, and many have lifelong disabilities as a result. The odd thing is there are some who recover completely, and return to life, as usual, as if nothing ever happened.

In my husband’s case, it’s too soon to tell, but he appears to be one of the so-called lucky ones, and is expected to make a full recovery. We have a few more weeks to exit the danger zone, where stroke and seizure may occur, but we are told his chance of such is very low. Still, he remains in incredible pain, and has limited mobility, as a result. It is too soon to say if there will be any lasting damage, but we are optimistic.

We don’t expect others to grasp what it’s like, especially as he is alert, responsive, and can communicate. Just like explaining “high functioning” autism to folks clicks at times, while with others, not so much, this is something we’ll explain and move on. Like his nurse said, if you have a large bruise on your leg and it hurts, you can see it, and know why you are in pain, as well as show it to others who need convincing. This bruise is on his brain, with the blood painfully circulating through his spinal fluid until it reabsorbs. Although invisible on the outside, it is very real.

So, in case you’ve wondered where this tweeting, blogging, Facebook-ing author and mompreneur has been lately, it’s here. By my husband’s side. Going without sleep for 12 days and counting, as getting him back to health is my current priority. And I’m honored to be able to be here for him. And if that means another 12 days without sleep, so be it.

Have the worst headache of your life? Don't take any chances. Go to the doctor.



  1. Julie, you and your family are in my prayers. Thank Goodness he went to the doctor! Wishing him a speedy and healthy recovery.


  2. Thanks so much, Tracy! Kind words, thoughts and prayers are helping us all during this time.