My Biggest Fan

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 17, 2013

Filed under: Personal 104 comments


I can feel it coming. It’s been working its way to the front of my skull all morning. It’s a nice quiet Saturday morning, and I’ve been playing Tomb Raider since before dawn. I’ve been having a good time, but for the last couple of hours I’ve known that a headache was coming. My neck is feeling tense, and I’m starting to see dots of light in front of my eyes.

By noon the pain has worked its way out of my frontal lobe and pierced the back of my eyeballs, spreading like the implacable roots of a great tree. The base of my skull is afflicted with a strange spectral pain that moves when I grope to find the source. I turn the game off. I like to keep myself distracted when these things show up, but the pain from looking at the screen is too much for me. This is going to be a bad one. Certainly not the worst I’ve ever had. Not by a long stretch. But it’s bad.

Maybe I can fall asleep? It’s the middle of the day, but the alternative is to sit here with nothing to do but savor the agony. I pop some painkillers and shuffle off to the bedroom. The painkillers never do anything for it, but without the pills the whole process feels incomplete. Not taking pills feels like not saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes.

There are only two things that soothe these migraines: Something cool on my face, and white noise. I don’t know why I like them so much. They don’t make it stop hurting or anything. My theory is that the sensory noise kind of drowns out the pain a bit. When a headache gets bad, all I want to do is lay in a dark room with ice on my face and a fan blowing.

In the bedroom, I pull the blinds and turn on the box fan.

sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf

Arg. Damn it! I turn the fan back off.

The bedroom is dark. I’ve got an ice pack. But it’s dead silent in here. I need some white noise. Heather bought this box fan during the move. We unboxed it and threw away the receipt while we were moving stuff from the old place to the new, even though we hadn’t used it yet. I don’t remember why. It’s just one of the many confusing things that happened when we were moving our life from point A to point B.

It wasn’t until we’d been here for a couple of days that I discovered that the fan is a crime against engineering. In the center of the front grill is a circle of plastic, about the size of an American nickel. On the backside of this circle – facing the hub of the fan – is a little protruding knob of plastic. When the blades spin, the hub rubs violently against this knob. This makes the entire fan wobble slightly from the friction. Instead of the low whisper of white noise, this fan makes a steady knocking and grinding sound. It’s like the sound of a an off-balance clothes washer mixed with the sound of a car dragging an axle. It’s possibly the least relaxing sound you could make with this voltage. The thing is completely defective, either designed by an idiot or assembled by a sadist.

This is a simple mechanical problem. Sure, I’m addle-brained by this point, but I should be able to work it out. I turn the fan back on.

sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf

My eyes are half closed by this point. Visual input hurts. Still, I can see this stupid, pointless knob on the back of the grill. I suppose I could get a screwdriver and take the grill off the fan. I dislike that solution for safety reasons, and I’m not in the mood to fumble with screws right now. I grab the cheap plastic grill and pull on it. Just a gentle tug is all it takes to get the knob to stop touching the blade. Suddenly the knocking stops.


Ahhh. That feels so good.

I let go of the grill.

sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf

Grrr. So the sound stops, but only as long as I’m gently pulling on the front of it. This is silly. We’re probably talking about just a tiny bit of overlap. Maybe a millimeter or so. I just need to keep that knob a small distance away and everything will be wonderful. I give a good, hard yank on the grill. It’s made of cheap, bendable, injection-mold type plastic, typical Wal-Mart trash. The sound stops.

I stand up. The grill seems to be slightly warped now. Assuming it doesn’t bend back, this ought to keep it quiet. I stagger over to the bed, put the cold on my face, and close my eyes. The raging headache is muffled in a sea of numbing cold and artificial wind. It’s the middle of the day, but I can feel myself getting drowsy. My mind begins to drift off into randomness, just waiting for the onset of

sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf sh-bwaf

I am now very awake and very pissed off that this infuriating piece of shit has chosen this moment to begin tormenting me. I know what I’m going to do. I am going to destroy this fan. It’s not a mature thing to do, but this is how I’ve chosen to vent my rage and indignation. I grab the still-running fan with both hands and drive my knee right into the center of the grill. This is tactically unsound, but I’m not really thinking straight.

I expect to hear a crunch of plastic, or perhaps for the fan to begin banging even worse after being bent or otherwise knocked off balance. Instead the impact is followed by a little chatter of plastic, like someone rolling a D20 across a wood table.


The atavistic blow has perfectly, surgically extracted the source of my frustration. The nickel-sized circle of plastic snapped free, leaving a small hole in the center of the grill. It was held in place by six rungs of plastic, all of which broke cleanly at the same time and at the same length. The fan has taken no other damage and is now working perfectly.

Amazed, I fall into bed, sleep for three hours, and wake up feeling just fine.

How is your weekend going?


From The Archives:

104 thoughts on “My Biggest Fan

  1. Humanoid says:

    I always envy people farther west of the International Date Line than me because of the irrational feeling that they’re enjoying weekends that last longer than mine. I wonder if I’d have the opposite feeling if I lived in that mythical place.

    As for my weekend – well, it’s over, it’s 1:30am on a Monday, and I’m about to (try to) get to sleep, not because I’m sleepy or tired, but because I work a regular 9-5 job. My mind is probably, if anything, at peak effectiveness at this time of day but I can’t really use it. Instead I take a melatonin tablet, turn on, rather topically, my white noise generator (essentially a fan with a solid case in place of a grille) and hope I’ll be out before the sun comes up.

  2. BlckDv says:

    *golf clap*

    As a fellow migraine sufferer I know this story all too well. Oh how I dread the days I don’t realize one is coming and half to walk the brightly lit sunny three blocks alongside roads with cars growling past from my office to where I can park and then have to manage the drive home when all I want is sweet cold darkness and the hum of my ceiling fan, I can only imagine the rage if said fan suddenly started to pop and grate.

    I am pleased that your story had a happy ending, and glad you were able to get rest while the head beast raged.

  3. Zak McKracken says:

    Your problem might be something entirely different, but headaches that start with a tense neck are usually because of a tense neck … relax it!
    I get this a lot, and what helps in most cases is to do something _before_ the headaches becomes really bad: Turn the game off (or stop working) for 5 minutes, straighten up and do some neck workout until all relevant muscles are properly warmed up, then stretching (very very thorough stretching). Helps almost always.

    1. DGM says:

      >> “Turn the game off”

      Them’s fightin’ words ’round these parts, mister… :P

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      “headaches that start with a tense neck are usually because of a tense neck”

      It’s nowhere near as easy with migraines. Nor effective. You are making the mistake of assuming that a migraine is similar to the mild stuff you know as ‘headaches’. It’s really, really, really not – neither in origin, not strength, nor onset.

    3. kmc says:

      Yeah, that’s good advice for bad headaches, but migraines aren’t even really properly classified as headaches–the head pain is just a side effect. There is at least one good video on YouTube (which means there are probably about 15 good videos on YouTube) of what it looks like (to some people, anyway) when a migraine comes on. A lot of migraine effects have to do with the front of the head and the eye region, and not the neck or even the muscles that go over the top of your skull and hurt when your neck gets tense.

  4. Irridiun says:

    Huh, my fan has started doing that same thing recently. A quick smack on the top fixes it for a few seconds, then it’s back to that annoying noise from hell. I took off the grill to inspect it, but found nothing. And with it off it still happens. Wonder if a good knee to the front would fix it as well…

    Anyway, my weekend’s fine. Just woke up, watching some recorded Three Stooges. Funny stuff.

  5. kdansky says:

    I was sick with fever above 39°C for two days (in Layman’s terms: “Should I go to the E.R. or do I wait a few hours and hope it passes?”), and now I’m still feeling horrible (but at least the fever’s gone). So yeah, lousy. But I was able to spend some time reading “Spin” by R.C. Wilson, great novel!

  6. Tizzy says:

    Painkillers don’t do anything against migraines. On the other hand, there are some prescription medications that are specifically for migraines (e.g., Sumatriptan). Do they work? Your mileage may vary, migraines being still very poorly understood as far as I can tell. Still, they appear to bring some relief to some. Shamus, did you look into such options?

  7. Tizzy says:

    Painkillers don’t do anything against migraines. On the other hand, there are some prescription medications that are specifically for migraines (e.g., Sumatriptan). Do they work? Your mileage may vary, migraines being still very poorly understood as far as I can tell. Still, they appear to bring some relief to some. Shamus, did you look into such options?

    1. czhah says:

      Nyah, painkillers (as in NSAIDs) do work for some people, but not all. But as suggested, I’d contact my doctor to get some prescription drugs specifically meant for treating migraines.

    2. Shamus says:

      I have in the past. I got some free samples from a doctor. He gave me a few of two different brands. I tried them. Given the randomness of a headache’s length (from 3 hours to 24) I couldn’t tell how well the pills worked. The data is too noisy to tell with such a small sample size.

      1. kmc says:

        You might try them a couple more times and see if they work for you the way they work for my husband. If he takes them within the first half hour of the first sign of the aura phase, they’re effective. It’s like he has a migraine but without the pain. He’ll be just a little out of it for about 6-8 hours (when he has a full one without the pills, he can’t talk very well during), but he can still drive and work and everything, and then when it wears off, he’s exhausted in the way that he always is when he’s just had a migraine. If he misses that 30-min. period, they have no effect. I don’t remember off the top of my head what he takes, but I’ll try to find out and post back here.

    3. Matt says:

      Sumatriptan was occasionally effective for me (worked maybe half the time) but also usually made me nauseated. Rizatriptan on the other hand has been very effective. I used to lose several days every month (and sometimes a couple a week) to migraines, and now I hardly ever to do (once in the last 6 months). The biggest side effect is feeling sort of fuzzy and disconnected for awhile, but I can’t figure out whether that’s the drugs or the migraine. Either way, the lack of blinding debilitating pain is totally worth it.

      I’d recommend experimenting a bit more. Maybe it won’t work for you, but if it does it can be pretty magical.

      1. Cuthalion says:

        I’d recommend experimenting with prescription drugs a bit more as well. Maybe it won't work for you, but if it does it can be pretty magical. ;P

  8. Zoe M. says:

    Maybe that bit of plastic was meant to be removed? And never was, until you knocked it free?

    1. Deadfast says:

      Such part is jokingly referred to as “kurvà­tko” here in the Czech Republic. The best translation I can think of for it is “fuck-up generator”.

      Kurvà­tko is specifically engineered to cause the device it is installed in to fail, usually immediately after the mandatory 2 year warranty period expires.
      After disassembling and reassembling a device, kurvà­tko is that part that seemingly doesn’t fit anywhere and doesn’t seem to have any influence on the functionality of the device whatsoever.

      1. McNutcase says:

        You guys have a word for it? Awesome. There really isn’t a good word or even a pithy phrase for it in English, despite how common those parts are…

        1. Jarenth says:

          Since English is like 80% borrowed words anyway, let’s make kurvà­tko a thing.

          1. Shamus says:

            I’m curious how it would be pronounced. I mean, an American is going to butcher the original pronunciation in any case, but I wonder what the *official* mis-pronunciation would be?

            The word looks like Curve-it-co to me. But it probably sounds like muvaskatlatana because screw phonics.

            1. Deadfast says:

              Actually, it’s English that has illogical pronunciation, take lead (element) vs. lead (to lead someone) as an example.

              Anyway, I was actually going to attempt to cobble together something by using examples from various English words. Then I remembered this exists. So just copy-paste the whole word (make sure to include the line over i, it’s important), switch it to Czech and click Say It. Optionally also spend the following few days trying to pronounce it yourself, possibly less if you have learned to roll R’s in a different language (such as Spanish) already.

              1. Shamus says:

                “Actually, it's English that has illogical pronunciation, ”

                I was actually just saying that you can’t depend on similar symbols having similar phonic sounds from one language to the next, not commenting on any particular language.

                Yes, as a native English speaker I’m pretty well aware that the spelling of English words is hosed. :)

                1. Shamus says:

                  After trying it with Czech-speaking text-to-speech, it sounds like core-veet-koe. (Fellow English speakers: Roll the R if you can.)

                  Maybe the first part should be pronounced closer to “Cora” (like the name) having the accent on the second syllable. So coRA-veet-Koe. Which is actually really fun to say.

                  1. Jarenth says:

                    This is what I’m getting from Google Translate, too.

                    Next step: using it in casual conversation.

                    1. Shamus says:

                      I also realized this is a great word for Games for Windows Live and always-on DRM: A stupid useless part that you don’t need but causes the whole thing to fail.

                    2. Deadfast says:

                      That’s brilliant, it never actually occurred to me to apply kurvà­tko to DRM but it just fits so much. I shall henceforth refer to DRM as such.

                2. Deadfast says:

                  I was actually just saying that you can't depend on similar symbols having similar phonic sounds from one language to the next, not commenting on any particular language.

                  Sorry, indeed, you can’t depend on that. Luckily there are internation pronunciation alphabets. Too bad no one actually understands them.

            2. rayen says:

              i was thinking a long E where the i is. Like Cur-veet-ko. then again i don’t know what that i accent does.

  9. Katesickle says:

    I envy you. My headache started friday evening and lasted roughly 24 hours. It wasn’t the most painful headache ever, but the sensitivity to light and sound made doing just about anything impossible.

    I’ve never tried putting a fan on for white noise when dealing with a headache. I’ll have to try that next time.

  10. Hitchmeister says:

    Good old percussive maintenance. See also: Jeremy Clarkson’s tool kit.

    1. krellen says:

      I like to tell people that rebooting their computer is the electronic equivalent to banging the fan/engine/other mechanical thing.

    2. HiEv says:

      There’s an old sci-fi movie that had an exchange that I’m always reminded of in situations like this. It went something like this:

      Male human pilot: “It wasn’t working so I applied repair maneuver #1.”

      Female android crew member: “You kicked it?”

      Male human pilot: “I kicked it.”

      Female android then goes in to inspect the damage.

      It wasn’t a particularly good movie, but it had little charming bits in it like that which helped make up for it. Sadly, I can’t remember the title. (“Cherry” something?)

      1. I can’t confirm the quote, but from the set up it sounds like Cherry 2000.

        1. It reminds me of the Tom Baker era Doctor Who story, “State of Decay.”

          The doctor and Romana are poking around an ancient spaceship. The doctor starts fiddling with the controls and says, “This looks like Earth technology.” He gives one of the monitors a sharp slap on the top and it comes to life. “Definitely Earth technology!”

        2. HiEv says:

          That’s it. Thanks.

          I forgot Melanie Griffith was in that movie. 1987… wow. Older than I thought too.

    3. Spammy says:

      Beating things with wrenches solves all of my problems. Sentry not building fast enough? Beat it with a wrench. Scout running suspiciously slow? Beat him with a wrench with jaggy metal bits. Turns out he’s a Spah trying to sap my sentry? Beat him with a wrench. Spah runs off to an obvious corner after popping the Dead Ringer? Beat him with a wrench.

  11. Jokerman says:

    This gave my a slight headache just reading it….

  12. kddekadenz says:

    Sorry for being ignorant, but I think of your story as a funny one ^^
    That’s propably because I don’t have such bad headaches.

  13. MichaelG says:

    I just get Ocular Migraines. Blue shooting stars in my vision are the warning sign. If I keep staring at the computer, I then get the explosion. Picture a bright blob in the middle of your vision, with expanding edges which flash like some kind of neon oil slick. It’s strong enough that I can’t see through it and lasts half an hour. No reading or anything, since I am basically blind.

    But at least I don’t get the headaches!

    1. drlemaster says:

      That describes mine as well, thankfully infrequent. Not pleasant, but Shamus makes me feel lucky to have them be sight only. OTC painkillers and squeezing the crap out of my head seem to shorten things, but maybe that just distracts me.

    2. Lisa says:

      I used to get that, and counted myself lucky that there was no pain.

      Then one day, the pain appeared and I was completely unprepared for it.

      Luckily I don’t seem to get more than one or two a year.

      1. DaveMc says:

        Ooh, that’s alarming … I’ve just been diagnosed with migraines, but so far I’ve never had the searing headaches, just dizziness and nausea and the occasional visual artifact. That the Headache of Doom might still be on its way is troubling. It’s hard even to type, with my fingers crossed like this.

  14. Andy L says:


    1. SyrusRayne says:


      1. bucaneer says:



  15. John W says:

    Shamus proving my long held theory that violence against inanimate objects solves problems.

  16. Thomas says:

    Enjoying your tweet about Nathan Drake being a name he made up to sound cool because that’s canon. Although not the pun bit

  17. I don’t get migraines, but I can recommend Vornado as a good fan manufacturer. I’ve got two of the black ones that have a removable base and tension clamp mounts (they’re not strong enough for where I’d put them, but if you wanted to hang them from somewhere, I guess they’d work) and they’ve gone for years without any noise. After about 4 years of constant summer use, I do take them apart and oil the axle, but other than that, they’re great little 3-speed fans that move a TON of air.

    Edit: And no, “where I’d put them” isn’t where you think, though that would make an interesting cabaret act. I tried clamping them to the uprights of a bookshelf, but they’re too heavy to support themselves in that manner. I think the clamps are meant more for the edge of a table or something like that.

  18. Unbeliever says:


    Repeat the following syllables: “MAX” “ALT”

    Put those syllables together, and say them to your doctor. Repeat until he provides prescription for same. (Do not “ask your doctor if Maxalt is right for you”. TELL him you want to try it. Preferably, the dissolve-on-your-tongue kind, though pills also work.)

    Next migraine, DO NOT WAIT for the pain. When you see the spacey twinkles, take the Maxalt. Wait ten minutes.

    Then thank me… :)

    1. Both Maxalt and Imitrex worked for me, but I still got all the migraine side-effects (nausea, incredibly tight and painful neck muscles). White-noise-wise, there’s a great app I have on my Nook that has a ton of different ones (was 1 or 2 bucks), and there’s also a webpage that does static white noise or rain sounds for free.
      Hope you feel better soon! Migraines stink!

      1. McNutcase says:

        I had a similar experience with Imitrex (haven’t tried anything else; Imitrex works well, and is generic so my insurance covers it) but even that was a massive improvement. I mean, choosing between photophobia, nausea, and completely wrecked motor control both fine and gross, but with either spaced-out lack of thinking ability or pain so severe I’m worried that it might not kill me? No choice. I’ll take the one that doesn’t result in me being terrifyingly lucid and in agony.

    2. John the Savage says:

      I’ve heard mixed reports of Maxalt. My dad, my sister and I all use it. It works perfectly for my dad, but it just removes the symptoms for my sister (vision, motion sickness), not the pain itself. It usually works for me, but ONLY if I catch it within a few minutes of the little dots, otherwise it’s usually too late to do anything. The worst is when I get a headache while I’m asleep: I’ll wake up and the headache is in full force, and there’s pretty much nothing I can do besides go back to sleep. I’m pretty sure this is just because I’m a heavy sleeper, though; my dad gets migraines at night, but they always wake him up in time to take the meds.

      Also, the taste will consistently make me throw up. I take the dissolve-under-your-tongue kind, and just thinking about them is making me gag right now. I’ve managed to work out a really gross-looking system of avoiding much of the taste by holding the pill under my tongue with my finger, waiting for it to dissolve, and then drooling out what’s left over, making sure that nothing touches the side of the tongue with the taste buds on it.

  19. postinternetsyndrome says:


  20. Paul Spooner says:

    Is it possible the center piece was designed to come out like that? Maybe they just skimped on assembly and forgot to tell the guys to kick the fan when they were done!

    I wish I got migraines too so I could sympathize… no, wait; I wish there were an easy solution. Sorry for your pain.

  21. Check the manufacturer, Shamus.

    Maybe EA’s gone into the fan business?

    1. SyrusRayne says:

      It would certainly explain why the manufacturer didn’t seem to care about their fans.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Luckily,I dont have migraines.Unluckily,my kidneys know to go haywire from time to time,and there is nothing that can dull the pain.Its just hours of tossing,turning,and contemplating painkiller overdose.So I sympathize.

    Im beginning to think that ea had something behind the design of human body.The way it announces to you that something is wrong is to shut off all your higher thinking.Thanks for telling me that I need to fix the problem by disabling all my abilities that could fix the problem.Stupid pain.

  23. Harry says:

    My girlfriend occasionally gets terrible migraines like this, and I have no idea what to do when it happens. I think what she wants me to do is just leave her alone in a darkened room for a while and let her deal with it, but it does make me feel a bit callous.

    Shamus, what do you want loved ones to do when you get one of these? Do you prefer it for them to just stay out of your way and let you try to overcome it on your own?

    1. Shamus says:

      Yep. Keep the noise down and don’t open the curtains or flip on the lights if I’m in the room. PLEASE DON’T WAKE ME UP IF I’M SLEEPING. That’s pretty much it. Other tan that, there’s nothing to be done but wait.

      1. McNutcase says:

        As a fellow migraine sufferer, this is correct. Other things you can do include being willing to provide food and drink if requested; these things screw your motor control a treat, and it’s much harder to make food or pour drinks than to consume them.

        What sort of food varies. Some people find chocolate helpful, for others it’s a trigger. What I crave when suffering a migraine is carbs and cheese. Nachos, quesadillas, or just about anything from Taco Bell’s “Man, you ARE a skinflint!” menu are ideal. For other migraineurs I’ve known, cheese is a trigger.

        But yeah. Wait, avoid disturbances, and be ready to provide support when the sufferer re-emerges. Also, many of the specialised anti-migraine medications come in fancy packaging that is a cast-iron bastard to open if you’re straight, and effectively impossible if you’re deep enough into a migraine to know that you need the magic pill NOW. So open meds when asked.

        1. Katesickle says:

          All of the above. Also, do NOT sit down on the bed or do anything else that will cause movement unless you’ve asked permission first (quietly, of course). Migraines tend to come with nausea and a heightened awareness of movement, so that slight dip in the mattress feels like a ship capsizing (at least for me).

          Also: water. Lots and lots of water. Migraines are bad enough without adding dehydration to the mix.

          1. Mari says:

            All of the above and also don’t touch her unless she asks you to. Maybe it’s just me but my migraines not only give me heightened awareness of movement but pretty much every other sense is heightened, too. Honest to goodness if I could afford it I would buy a sensory deprivation tank for when I have a migraine. I don’t want soothing white noise. I want a room that’s as close to body temperature as possible, absolute darkness, absolute silence, neutral odors, and NOTHING touching my body in any way. Since I don’t have a sensory dep. tank and haven’t yet mastered levitation I settle for sleeping in a tepid bath in a dark bathroom if possible or laying on a soft mattress if the bathroom is unavailable.

            Early on my hubs tried very hard to be comforting when I had migraines. Pretty much any other illness turns me into a cuddle bunny so he followed form and tried to hug and cuddle me. I, of course, came unglued and then yakked all over him. Y’know, now that I think of it there’s a simple answer to the question of what to do for a loved one who suffers from migraines: ask THEM. Not in the middle of a migraine but at some other time when they’re not trying to fight off the pain of the seventh circle of hell. Every migraine sufferer has a unique experience and your girlfriend is probably the only one really qualified to answer your question.

            1. McNutcase says:

              Ooof, I’d forgotten about the touch sensitivity.

              I’m with you on the sensory deprivation tank, though. Although I’d need white noise in it; I honestly can’t remember what silence sounds like, since I’ve not heard it for at least a decade. I kind of need something to drown out my tinnitus.

        2. Leonardo Herrera says:

          For me, coffee is the ticket. Luckily, my migraines are of the “turn the lights off, go to bed” variety, and nausea doesn’t kick that often. It’s what you would call a “mild” migraine.

          1. Caffeine works better for me than the prescription meds most of the time to kill the migraine before it gets started. In fact, that’s what I use now, that and painkillers as needed. Thankfully I have mild migraines (about the same pain as bad headaches), and I’ve learned most of my triggers (lack of/disturbed sleep, heat, sulfates (the preservative)).
            You might also want to ask about botox for migraine prevention. I tried it twice, once it worked like a dream and I had no migraines for 6 months (pretty impressive since I was in college at the time and disturbed sleep and migraines were the norm), and the other time it had no effect.

            1. McNutcase says:

              What works for me in terms of prevention (aside from avoiding my triggers, which include stress, disturbed sleep, and phosphoric acid) is amitriptyline. That’s an old-school tricyclic antidepressant (which hurts my job prospects, since the drug tests many employers use will come back hot for tricyclics – but then, in my case they’d likely come back hot for opiates as well since I do occasionally need the heavy painkillers to deal with my arthritis) which in low doses can help prevent migraines. I went from having multi-day migraines about every couple of weeks to one-day ones about every couple of months. And it’s cheap, too; cash price for a month’s supply at the migraine-preventing dosage is around $10.

    2. Rick says:

      While not migraines, my wife gets crippling pain with her Endometriosis. I’ve learnt to offer what help I can (heat pack, pillow etc) and not take it personally that what helped last time may not be what helps this time.

      I think knowing we care even if you can’t have us there helps a little.

    3. kmc says:

      I keep a couple of my husband’s pills in my purse in case he starts to get one while we’re out somewhere, since he has to take them as soon as he recognizes he’s getting one for it to work. Unfortunately, there’s not much else to do. He starts having a very hard time speaking words and sentences, so I try not to ask too much of him that way, and be very patient. I help him get right to bed and make sure to keep it cool and dark and quiet, and I check in on him every couple of hours. If he’s awake, I’ll quietly ask if there’s anything he needs, but other than that, there’s not much I can do. If he goes to sleep, he usually doesn’t wake up until the migraine’s over, and he’s kind of worn out the rest of the day. I just try to accommodate him as much as I can.

  24. Neko says:

    Morning. In bed. Start hearing loud bass. Those damn neighbours again. Summon enough effort to sit up and simultaneously slam the window shut.

    The sound gets clearer. It’s coming from the living room. My good friend of many years, soon to be ex-friend because I will murder him, is “sick and staying home from work” and watching what I think was some Scott Pilgrim trailer at absurd volumes.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Like all of my mornings it started with the death of a friend

  25. Bropocalypse says:

    I wonder if the Fonz used this technique to get his fans to shut up, as well.

    1. Bryan says:

      When it didn’t work, he decided to jump a shark instead. That had a *slightly* more noticeable effect.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Actually,that made them even more annoying.

  26. John the Savage says:

    I’ve been getting migraines since I was about ten, so I know how you feel. Those dots are the only indicator that I have. Usually I’ll be reading something, and suddenly individual letters or even whole words will disappear. I take medication that I hold under my tongue instead of swallowing, and it usually works, but only if I take it RIGHT AFTER I start seeing (or more accurately, stop seeing) those dots. The worst is when I start getting it while I’m asleep. I’ll wake up with the headache at full force, and there’s nothing I can do but go back to sleep.

    One quick and cheap trick that I’ve learned is to give yourself a brainfreeze. Drink a milkshake or cold beverage really fast. It won’t cure it, but it’ll give you a short reprieve from the pain.

    I probably learned the most about my headaches during my trip to the UK. Over the course of the four days I spent in Scotland, I had five migraines. Still don’t know what caused them (maybe the atmosphere, maybe something I was allergic to in the area, maybe just something in my brother’s apartment), but I learned how to generally cope with them (only one of them put me out of commission).

    1. Blue_Painted says:

      I just found this map …

      … so maybe it is Geographical?

      1. Deadfast says:

        For the bigger part likely underreported.

    2. kmc says:

      I didn’t even remember this until you said it, but yes! My husband finds that particularly peanut butter ice cream will do the trick when eaten really fast. He says peanut butter, for some reason, seems to work better than other flavors. That is so weird!

      1. John the Savage says:

        That’s pretty weird, alright. Although I won’t say I don’t believe it: I’ve seen peanut butter have some weird effects on people. An old girlfriend of mine would go CRAZY after eating it, bouncing off the god damn walls, laughing at everything.

  27. nerdpride says:

    I never get bad headaches and I’m always happy to read stories like this because they make me feel like such a fortunate person. And I am of course, but I don’t realize it until I read about how people have to fight with their own bodies of all things.

    Also I pity everyone who has to play video games. They’re supposed to be fun. Leisure. Like whenever you want to, whatever you want to. I don’t see why the whole things hasn’t collapsed because you could just get a handful and not have to buy anything else ever again and be in danger of starvation and insomnia for the rest of your life.

    For my weekend I played King Arthur’s Gold, ate too much ice cream (although not enough to cause sickness, yay), got minimal exercise in, and read a 400 page Crichton novel Disclosure which was enlightening as a summary of problems but not very fun.

    Also I feel like there’s an opportunity to make a pun or a joke about fanservice but I guess I won’t for lack of imagination.

  28. SgtRalph says:

    Huh, didn’t realize there were so many fellow migraine sufferers on this site. Here’s a question; I see a few of you talking getting nausea, but does it eventually make you vomit or do you just keep sickly for the duration of the headache? For me if I can’t fall asleep in time my migraine will eventually cause me to vomit and then, oddly enough, it’ll recede.

    1. Manny says:

      I have relatively mild migraines, usually about twice a year, and it started just a couple of years ago. If I don’t recognize them soon enough they end up in vomiting, which makes them go away almost instantly. The last couple of times I was able to detect them at an early stage and took a painkiller right away, preventing any escalation.

      Sleeping doesn’t help at all in my case, I just wake up about ready to throw up.

    2. Katesickle says:

      Sometimes I get nausea/vomiting (which usually makes me feel better, but not always), sometimes I just get nausea without vomiting, and sometimes there’s no nausea at all. It’s annoyingly inconsistent.

    3. McNutcase says:

      If I get nausea, which I don’t always, then it’ll just keep on going throughout but never result in me puking.

      Numbers of migraineurs/migraineuses here: migraine apparently correlates strongly with intelligence. It’s a problem that’s disproportionately likely to affect geeks.

  29. Helm says:

    Shamus friend of mine had a 6 month course of acupuncture and it seems to have worked for him might be worth a go. AFAIK he’s not had one in the last 4-5 years so it does seem at least a semi permanant cure

  30. Alan says:

    Sorry to hear about your migraine, but glad that it woked out in the end. Juse hope that you don’t use Reginald Cuftbert’s solution to solving all problems with violence:

    Hmm, bread not cooked yet *punches toaster*
    Hmm, clothes too dirty *punches shirt*
    Hmm, I hate this ball *Kicks ball*

    Actually, people get paid large amounts for doing that last one.

    1. Dave B. says:

      Blog post not done. *punches keyboard*

    2. Josh says:

      Incidentally, Reginald Cuftbert’s proper migraine remedy is to get drunk. Which is something you’ll have the opportunity to watch as it unfolds, since I just so happened to suffer a rare migraine towards the end of recording the podcast. I’m now convinced Shamus has been doing research into using the internet to weaponize headaches so he can finally be rid of me.

      The best part is after spending a half hour recovering, we recorded Spoiler Warning! And there were, of course, no drunken hijinks or long tangents off the questline for hidden objects that may not actually exist whatsoever. Because that would’ve been unprofessional.

      1. krellen says:

        Yeah, and being thoroughly unprofessional is our job.

      2. Loonyyy says:

        Reginald Cuftbert has the right idea when it comes to curing (Anything).

        Shamus doesn’t have to weaponise headaches. He just has to convince you to play the drinking game.

  31. Rick C says:

    If you are prone to regular migraines–my wife went through a spell were she would have them that lasted for *weeks* at a time–there’s one super-duper medicine: DHE45, dihydroergotamine. It’s made from a rather nasty fungus, but it is stoopid effective, to the point where heavy sufferers can go months without migraine.

  32. Mersadeon says:

    I always find it interesting to talk to other people with severe migraine. Everyone seems to have a different “least painful situation”, and everyone has different kinds of pain.
    I am very happy that heavy painkillers work for me. I try to take as little as possible, since I don’t particularly like the thought of that stuff inside me, but it helps.
    I normally cannot endure even white noise. It has to be absolutely, dead silent and as dark as possible. I always sleep to get rid of migraine – not even painkillers seem to help when I stay awake.
    Well, I had migraine attacks about twice a month when I was young. Nowadays, I might get one in half a year, if even that.

  33. LaFollet says:

    I know most migraine sufferers have been given mountains of advice on how to “take care of them.” But I’ll offer this one tidbit that helped my wife during her pregnancy (so no drugs.)

    Put a cold pack (like what you’d put in a cooler bag for a picnic) on the place where your spine and skull meet. It doesn’t actually get rid of the migraine, but it does wonders to dull the pain. Or at least it does for my wife.

    Also works well for regular headaches.

    1. kmc says:

      I have only had two migraines in my life, but one was while I was pregnant. In addition to that, I can’t take ibuprofen, so when I went to the clinic that was open at that time of night, all they could give me was Vicodin. (Incidentally, they said it was safe; my OB wouldn’t call me back, so I took it. Next day, she called and said, “I don’t want you taking that.” and I said, “Then you should’ve called me back.”) Anyway, my OB put me on Reglan for headaches and I stopped getting the little ones I was getting by the end of every work day. As for the migraines, I didn’t have any more, but it’s hard to tell if it was the medicine or not. Just a tip to other pregnant women/husbands.

  34. rayen says:

    my weekend was filled with work topped off with a trip to the emergency room when i cut off some of my hand.

    Is it weird that when my migraines get bad enough that i have nausea i take ipecac so i’ll vomit immediately? Because that works really well for me. The vomiting makes me pass out for like 4 hours and i wake up feeling great, if a little hungry.

    1. Fleaman says:

      Vomiting is sort of the body’s “kick the fan” response.

      You: Hmm, I’m feeling kind of funny.
      Body: Have you tried vomiting?

  35. Blackbird71 says:

    Sorry to hear about the headache, Shamus. I can sympathize, it’s been a bad month for migraines for me as well. Usually it’s darkness and sleep that help mine (when they don’t hurt too much to be able to sleep), but I’ve never tried white noise. Usually any audio or visual sensory input is amplified and painful for me, but it’s worth a shot.

    Do you find your headaches are worsened by flourescent lighting? When I feel one coming on at work, sometimes I can step outside into the sunlight and it feels worlds better. It’s one of the reasons I passionately hate CFLs, and the environmental efforts to wipe incandescent bulbs out of existence.

  36. Anachronist says:

    Hmmm. Cold on the face helps? Did you check for a deep sinus infection?

    A friend of mine suffered from allergies, or so he thought. So one day he decided to undergo surgery in which the doctor waves a scalpel around inside the nose, creating scar tissue to keep the nasal passages from swelling shut due to allergen irritants.

    Well, during that surgery, it was discovered that he had had a sinus infection way up high in the sinus area — you know, in the general region where migraine headaches occur.

    Well, since that surgery and subsequent treatment of the infection, my friend told me his frequency of migraine headaches has decreased dramatically. And I remember he used to get those headaches a lot.

    You mentioned that cold on the face helps you. Cold is also anti-inflammatory. Cold on the face would also tend to reduce inflammation of the sinus cavities. This makes me wonder if your condition might be similar to my friend’s.

    Me, I don’t get migraines. All my headaches occur in the back of my head, not the front.

    Anyway, it’s something you might want to investigate. Hope it helps.

  37. Joseph says:

    I used to get migraines and haven’t now for a few years. I got a similar “white noise” effect from rubbing peppermint oil on my temples (avoid your eyes). This didn’t take the pain away, but masked it incredibly well. Thought I would share.

  38. Loonyyy says:

    Well, when I tried to shutoff my fan by throwing a bottle at the off switch, it got caught in the blades and mangled it so it sounds like a bilge pump.

    But hey, I got a new fan, so apart from that, my weekend’s going swell. Just brilliant. I’ve never felt so great. I’m never sarcastic.

  39. Diamond Dog says:

    Completely off-topic here, but you HAVE to watch this:

    You’re welcome! :D

  40. Paul Spooner says:

    So, basically, if you ever meet your biggest fan, you’re going to pick them up and knee them square in the grill?
    You need not worry about people knowing your address. I don’t think you’ll have any problems with fans showing up at your door.

  41. Mitch says:

    I too suffer from migraine; through sheer luck I have found medication which does work (and plenty that does not, as I seem to have an adverse reaction to typical migraine treatment medication): diazepam and codeine. You’ll likely have problems getting diazepam from your doctor for migraine treatment but you may be able to talk him/her into letting you have 8mg as a trial for your next migraine, along with 45mg codeine. This combination typically stops my migraines in 30-40 minutes; nothing else has worked at all. Fortunately I only get them 2-4 times per year. Also: try yoga. When I’m going to yoga on a regular basis the frequency of migraine attacks falls off drastically.

    For white noise, I can recommend Sleepmaker Rain for your iDevice or ‘Droid.

  42. Foodle says:

    “this is tactically unsound, but…”

    That was my favorite part. Glad you’re feeling better.

  43. Joey245 says:

    This was probably my favorite post of 2013. I still double over laughing every time I read about you giving that fan the knee! I love how you manage to take something as trivial as a badly-designed fan and weave a fulfilling story out of it. Looking forward to what you’ll write about this year!

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