Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Excedrin Headache 2012

I got my first migraine the day I left MCRD in San Diego. I'd been there for months for reasons I won't go into here, but I was on my way to Denver. Now, there was obviously sun in San Diego, even at MCRD, but the second I left those gates the sun seemed a million times more intense. I was being driven by two huge Marines to the airport with nothing but a pocketful of money, a change of clothes, and a folder that read Top Secret. You have to understand I was still 17 and this was going to be only the second time I was getting on a plane, so after months at the recruit depot in a very regimented routine, the moment they dropped me off at my gate real life took over. And it was overwhelming. The last thing I remember was ordering a burger at one of the local chains we don't have here in the Midwest and buying some yogurt-covered raisins for the flight. As soon as I sat on the plane I knew I was going to vomit. Then I couldn't see. Literally, I went blind with an array of sparkly whirligigs of light in my periphery no matter where I looked. By the time we reached cruising altitude I had vomited twice, all the while the guy next to me was asking me a million questions. He never shut up. I thought I was having a stroke. When we landed in Denver most of the worst of it was over, but it remains the most virulent migraine I have ever had. 

This is a tablet of Excedrin, the best and greatest remedy for a migraine. Or just a run of the mill headache. The best way to use an Excedrin is get the uncoated tablet, then hold it under your tongue while it dissolves. It's a little much to take at first, but after a few times you'll get used to it and much prefer to do it this way. Why does Excedrin work so well, even better than other brands with exactly the same formula? I don't know. I just know it does. After twenty-five years of dealing with migraines one becomes an expert. You learn to weed out those things in your life that trigger migraines, and create a highly idiosyncratic calculus of how much of each factor is allowable before you can expect to set off a headache. For me it's sun, changing my sleep pattern, and beer and wine. Stomach acid seems to be a key factor. I often feel like my migraines have more to do with my stomach than my head. The Greeks and many other cultures have believed the stomach is something like a second heart, and it certainly is an integral switchboard in the Central nervous System. So, why is Excedrin one of the few concoctions in the Universe that offers any relief for migraine-type headaches?

Drawing of an Excedrin bottle
Is it the green bottle? There seems to be a faintly glowing, arcane power to that green bottle. Perhaps. But I think it's the combination of 250 mg each of aspirin and acetaminophen, but just as importantly the 65 milligrams of caffeine, or about the caffeine found in two 12 ounce cans of Coca Cola. I used to use caffeine to regulate my headaches, but as I've grown older I find caffeine may be the main cause of the headaches. It's sort of a devil's bargain. But once a migraine is in progress, I want those 65 milligrams of caffeine pronto.

It's a formula that hasn't changed much. I assume in this version it was an aspirin/caffeine combination. Do you remember your first migraine headache? If you didn't know what was happening did it scare you? For the first ten years or so at the very onset of a migraine I'd shut down and seek out the quietest, darkest place I could find for the twenty or so minutes it takes the visual occlusions to pass. But as I started working in the service industry I could no longer do that and my policy became that no matter what I was doing I just continued to do it and pretended like nothing was happening. This has served me well. It obviously doesn't make the migraine go away, as anyone who suffers knows, once a migraine starts nothing can be done until it runs its course. Only one time did I ever talk myself out of a migraine. Not sure how. If I knew I'd do it every time.

Enjoy Dick Cavett in these classic Excedrin commercials until Excedrin returns from recall. 

March 1, 2013 update: After all that waiting Excedrin did finally return a couple of months ago. And do you know what? It's not the same. First of all, the coated tablet just won't melt under your tongue. I suppose one could grind it up like a headache powder, but the formula has changed and it's just not the same. So, I tried something different.

Anacin. This is a huge 350 tablet bottle. Just aspirin and caffeine here, but who am I kidding, all my head really cares about is the caffeine. If you always got relief from Excedrin, give Anacin a try. 

April 2015: After heart surgery I'm no longer allowed to take Excedrin. Only a baby aspirin every day. Which is alright, because the classic formula never returned in the tablet form after the recall, and I never like the caplet. 

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1 comment:

  1. There are certain medicines that will help you get rid of the headache. It is something you should consider.


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