Barometer - n. Definition: an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure; changes in which can indicate high or low pressure fronts and related short-term weather predictions.
A barometer typically measures pressure by the effect it has on air, water, or mercury...or my sinuses.
I'm sure we've all heard the stereotype of the old lady who gives emphatic weather predictions based on an ache in her arm where she broke it 15 years ago in a fall and to this day uses it as a fool-proof meteorological tool (why aren't the news stations using her for their forecasts?). As some of us have gotten older, we may even have come to the depressing realization that this phenomena is based on reality. My whole family knows when the rain will hit based on our inflamed joints and I usually have a hunch when it might snow. But in the past year or so I've got a new one - weather fronts.
Last night was a particularly bad one. In fact, when it happened I wanted to get on here and write to you about it, but was too busy being incapacitated by pain (sorry y'all). I've had it happen a few times before, where I can literally feel a force pass from one side of my body to the other, bringing migrating sinus pressure with it, but those instances were usually more startling than painful. When last night's front came through suddenly, I had a pain start in the back left of my skull. The pain, which was in a very thin but intense line, began to spread toward the top of my head, so I gulped down a few ibuprofen as fast as I could and made my way back to the sofa. The ache was so intense and sudden that I actually began to check myself for stroke symptoms! I felt flushed and wobbly, and was so stricken by the sudden onset and intensity that I found speaking challenging. The line of pain continued to spread, and finally reached my face...sliding down my forehead, behind my left eye, and bottoming out in the sinus cavity below. Thankfully, I recognized the type of pressure-pain behind my eye and in the sinus space as the kind I get when there's a pressure change and realized that's what was behind the whole headache, and calmed down.
As relieved as I was that I wasn't having a stroke or seizure or something, my pain persisted. (As a side note, I find it interesting that this line of pain basically followed my "coup de sabre" - a linear area of scar tissue from scleroderma, often on the head and face.) I continued to have a severe headache with intense and focused pain, as well as sensitivity to light, nausea, and going from feeling hot to cold. I curled up (well, flopped over, really) on the sofa, slid a book over my face to block as much light as possible, and shivered until my husband came home. I wasn't able to get up and turn off the fan or even steal the blanket next to me from the dog and cover myself, let alone go to bed and lie in the dark there. When Shawn came home he immediately bundled me off to the bedroom, keeping the overhead light off of course.
This morning, feeling less than perfect but greatly improved, I began wondering if this is in fact a migraine headache. I've had similar symptoms before on scattered occassions, but never really pursued things with a doctor. I orignally dismissed this idea because I felt I knew what caused the onset of this headache and migraines are supposed to be a mystery, but then I realized maybe the pressure change triggered a migraine (as in, they are not mutually exclusive). I don't know if this is a legitimate medical analysis, but it sounds viable to me. So, I plan to pick up a small bottle of Exedrin the next time I see it, and try that if I get those symptoms again (intense pain, sensitivity to light, nausea, and maybe feeling hot or cold). We'll see.
In the meantime, I'll be happy to provide weather predictions to anyone in the area via text message for 50 cents per message...if you want temperature predictions from my mother's recently broken arm I'll include that too, but that'll cost you extra:) Maybe I'll seek a contract with AccuWeather...