I suffer from chronic Cluster Headaches. My meds generally keep them under control and keep them low intensity. On a typical day, I suffer 2-3 long-lasting KIP 2 or KIP 3 headaches.
However, for almost two months now I’ve been hit with a bad cycle of Clusters, getting hit with 2-3 long-lasting KIP 5 or KIP 6 headaches most days. I am exhausted and pretty miserable, though this is hardly the worst cycle I’ve been in. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing how long any given cycle will last for me.
For reference, here is my rough attempt to explain how the KIP scale (Cluster Headache pain scale that goes from 1-10) translates to me in particular:
Cluster Headache (Personalized) KIP Scale
- Barely noticeable as a Cluster Headache at all. Equal to a typical person’s “Splitting Headache” that wrecks their day.
- A minor Cluster that does not require any alteration to the day’s plans. Equal to the worst headache a typical person has ever had.
- Very distracting, but can function as normal if needed. I’m going to be cranky if I don’t have a way to abort this. A typical person has never had their head hurt this bad without physical damage.
- We’ve crossed the line from “Good Clusters” to “Bad Clusters”. Can only function with exhausting amounts of concentration. I’m not sure typical person has ever felt their head hurt this bad unless they’ve suffered serious head trauma.
- Can only function in short bursts by using extreme concentration. Restlessness is inescapable.
- Crossed into “Intense” territory. Pain dominates my mind. Nothing can get accomplished. These are sanity warping.
- Pain is overwhelming. I cannot keep from rocking, or banging my head against things, or other physically painful activities in an effort to relieve my pain or otherwise distract myself from the pain.
- Crossed into “Devastating” territory. I am incapable of thinking of anything else. My world is literally nothing but pain. I am “lucky”–my Clusters have never gotten worse than a KIP 8. Can be sanity breaking.
- Cluster Headaches are known as “Suicide Headaches” for a reason–here’s where some Cluster sufferers start attempting it. You certainly can’t avoid considering it at this level.
- Doctors say that Cluster Headaches are the most painful medical condition that humans experience. This is that level. Some Cluster sufferers experience this on a regular basis.