I have always suffered from headaches. As a child, I would get a headache if I was overtired. Then, aged 10, I had a concussion (in style – losing consciousness after banging my head, ambulance to hospital, blue light job … and I missed all the excitement as I was unconscious! :rolleyes: ) following which I had concussion headaches for a number of years.

By the time I left home, they had mostly subsided, but by then I had developed a pattern of headaches that related to my menstrual cycle. Tight headaches that put me out of action for 24-36 hours, every 30 or so days. Fortunately, in those days, it didn’t threaten my job as it might now. And in between, I was completely free of pain.

That pattern continued for many years. Only pregnancy gave me any relief – one wonderful side effect of an otherwise totally uncomfortable experience! As a result, I began to realise something of the effect hormones have on our musculature, which gave me an insight into the origin of my pain.

I can remember precisely when things changed. Whilst nursing DD2, I had a muscle spasm in my upper back. An acquaintance at the time had been a Physio and she gave me an exercise to stretch out my neck and shoulders. But she didn’t tell me it would get worse before it got better … and it was as if my head exploded from the inside out :( From that time on, I could get a headache any time, and they were endless. Nothing I did affected them and I simply had to endure it until they subsided. After a while, I realised there was something of a pattern to them … they were always worse in the morning, coming on as I slept. The first time I gained any relief was by using a neck support pillow … it was almost miraculous. Except that it didn’t last.

I can cut a long story short at this point. It’s now 16 years later, and I have had several sessions of physiotherapy (often using that same exercise, only in a much more considered context), taken a wonder drug that left me pain free but spaced out for months at a time, and eventually learned that I have a terrible posture. All of this led to an easing of the pain, but never complete absence of it. The final piece of the puzzle I gained from a friend. I was musing about the fact that I clench my jaw when asleep … I had by then realised that the muscle tension that gave rise to the headaches originated in my neck muscles, and I suspected that the tight jaw was a major contributing factor. She suggested a soft mouth guard, to be worn at night. Such a simple idea, and since I had one fitted, I have been headache free … at last :)

However, from time to time, I am still aware of tension in my neck … it does not now give rise to a headache, although it is somewhat uncomfortable in itself. It builds up slowly over time until I can no longer get comfortable at night, however cosy I am under the covers. The medication would deal with it, but I am no longer so desperate for relief that the side effects are worth it. But there is still one trick up my sleeve – pillows.

I find that, if I change my pillow regularly, my neck cannot settle into one position in order to tighten up over time. So every two or three months, I change my pillows around – I have a supply of different pillows under my bed! I like to lie fairly flat on my front and left hand side, but I need more height on my back or on my right … so I always have two. Thankfully, DH is a heavy sleeper … as each time I turn over in bed, I have to rearrange them to suit :rolleyes: And it’s that time again … I’m always reluctant to change, since I have been comfortable for several weeks on a particular combination … but I can feel the tension increasing each day. I can stop reading, or using the computer to gain an additional few days, but it always wins in the end.

But what’s the hassle of changing a pillow for the sake of a pain free night? Such an easy thing to do, and I know I’ll be fine by tomorrow … what a blessing, and thank God for friends :thumbs-up:

One other contributing factor I haven’t mentioned is that I used to carry a heavy shoulder bag to school each day … over 30 years later, I can still feel the damage in a particular muscle under my right ear! As a result, I am passionate about not letting children carry such loads unless they use a rucksack style bag, and I would encourage any of you to do the same x