THE STREAK – in Jeopardy!

It started with humble beginnings, in the summer of 1981. No, not the Ray Stevens song – The Streak (1974), about running naked! This is a streak of different colors.

In August, 1981, Ronald Reagan was President, Raiders of the Lost Ark took the box office at the movies, and a cultural phenomenon launched on television – MTV.

MTV Video VJ Martha Quinn   MTV Video VJ Martha Quinn 80's

MTV premiered on August 1st. My favorite VJ was Martha Quinn – just in case you were wondering – and she was as cute as a button. “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles (you know the song, but The Buggles??), DEVO was “Whip”-ing it, Kim Carnes had “Bette Davis Eyes“, and Blondie was in “Rapture.” We all immediately loved “… our MTV.”

But while my summer was going strong, along came something called the flu. Yep, in August of 1981, I contracted a version of the flu that put me down for days. For someone who didn’t miss school or work, this was unfamiliar territory.

I hugged the beauty of that porcelain fixture like a child’s teddy bear. We embraced often, and I gladly donated my sweat, tears, and what little food I was able to keep down. Warm washcloths became my friends – dabbing at my crusted-up mouth and nose with a welcomed tenderness.

It was the last time I would be so close to the ground in this capacity … until last weekend.


It was a typical, sunny southern California day – the temperature a perfect 74 deg Fahrenheit. Because it was a Saturday in late January (the 28th, to be exact) traffic was fairly light.

While MLB was at a work meeting in Mission Bay, I was “forced” to tour the beach towns of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff-By-The-Sea, Encinitas, Leucadia, and Carlsbad scouting for a potential place where we might want to live in the not-too-distant-future. Rough duty, I know, but someone had to do it.

It was idyllic, passing beach towns with quaint boutiques, checking out glimpses of the ocean, and taking in the breezy SoCal air. As I was enjoying the day, a pesky headache began. It started as just a simple dull pain and gradually worked its way to throbbing.

Was it something I ate? The bright sunlight from the southern part of the state compared to our northern California environs? Perhaps allergens from different plants or trees? I wasn’t sure, but it was time to go back to the hotel, take something for the pain, and get something to eat before picking up MLB at the prearranged meeting time of 8:30 pm.

As I entered the room, the pulsing blood was pressuring my head to the point it must have looked like Arnold’s in Total Recall:

Total Recall Arnold Schwarzenegger

Frantically, I looked through MLB’s cosmetic bag – nothing. She apparently had the Tylenol and ibuprofen in her purse … with her; the two things that might have been able to bring me back from what was sure to be a painful death-by-headache.

To all migraine-sufferers everywhere, my sincerest apologies. I had NEVER had a headache this severe in my life. I tried sitting down – no help. I lay down on the bed – the pain increased about five-fold.

By now, the pain had gone from “Total Recall” to complete exploding-head madness:

Headache Head Exploding Migraine

I called the front desk.

“Do you have Tylenol, or anything for a headache?”

“No, but you there is a CVS drug store across the street.”

At this point, I was willing to do just about anything. I traipsed out into the night and stumbled across the street and picked up the generic Headache Relief – a cocktail of acetaminophen, aspirin, and about 900 mg of caffeine (okay, maybe 50 mg of caffeine). Without thinking – why not pick up 275 tablets? – I got the biggest bottle I could find. Maybe I needed all of them to knock this sucker out of my head!

Headache Migraine tylenol ibuprofen

Not that I was in a hurry, but while standing in line I broke open the bottle of headache pills, opened a Diet Pepsi (God’s drink!), and sought immediate relief.


Back at the hotel, the time is now 7:15 pm. I go back to pacing the floor, punching my head, praying for forgiveness for the sins I did, and didn’t, commit, begging for mercy, hoping for the pain to subside. Frantically, I sit at the desk. You know it’s terrible, when … I can’t even look at the laptop to check out blogs,  or write a post about this experience!

I moved from the desk to the bed. I’m stretched out on my side, but the throbbing is now worse than ever before. I’m pummeling my head into the pillow – a noggin-battering-ram; hoping it will beat the pain senseless.

Oh NOOOOOOOO! Suddenly I become nauseous. This is an experience I’ve only had a handful of times since the streak started 31 years ago. I reflect back to those MTV-laden days as Martha Quinn introduces the latest video in my mind. And I think, for the first time since 1981 … even if the streak ends, if it will take away this pain, I’m willing to do it.

Toilet Throw up Porcelain

I go to the bathroom and drop down on the floor – arms embracing the porcelain, like days of old. Stomach is queasy, but not quite past that “tipping point,” thankfully. It subsides, and the streak passes its most daunting challenge in those three plus decades.

Back to the bed I go. Now on my hands and knees with my head buried in the pillow, I press against my head repeatedly until … the phone rings. It’s 8:45 and MLB is wondering where I am. Peaceful sleep must have descended upon my blown-up head and the pain was now half of where it had been on the pain-Richter-scale.


As I picked up my wife, I tried to explain what had happened. I went on-and-on about the pain, the possible ending of “The Streak,” and how no one could have ever had that kind of headache before in human history. As I continued to describe the events, she remained patient and understanding. Finally, my droning must have gone a bit too far.

She exclaimed, “I get it … you had a HEADACHE!”
Have you ever had this kind of headache before? If so, what did you do to alleviate the pain?
I need to know, in case there’s a “next time!” :)

56 Comments on “THE STREAK – in Jeopardy!”

  1. Cara says:

    *chuckling* The ending made me laugh! Eeeeeee, MJ–throwing up is horrible. So sorry you suffered like that. I was down in the San Diego area that following weekend and I get a headache as well. There is some serious allergy gunk going on down there…

  2. olletron says:

    Goodness! I’ve never had a headache in my life, I wonder if I’m building up some sort of headache debt and will get one of these monsters soon! D:! In any case, I’m glad that you survived and were well enough to write this, but I’m afraid that I can’t offer any advice. Great post, though :D!

  3. Barb says:

    It’s terrible when even light makes you nauseous. Sometimes I get these headaches from not drinking enough water. Then I kick myself as I try to lay as still as possible, knowing the whole thing could’ve been avoided with a couple glasses of water. Glad you’re better.

  4. Dana says:

    Every now and then, I get migraines that kill my skull and make me extremely nauseous, too. I hate taking any sort of meds, but I usually just pop an Advil and head straight for bed. The darker the room, the better. I just need to be still, silent, and sleeping– even if it’s 1 in the afternoon.

    • mj monaghan says:

      I go straight for the tylenol or stronger, if I have it. I just don’t like it to drag on. Don’t know how you handle the migraines on a regular or periodic basis. I should have darkened the room. Everyone who has migraines made that comment.Great suggestion.

  5. So sorry you had such a bad headache. It definitely sounds like a migraine. For me, Excedrin and Coke do the trick. Also lying down if I can, with all light blocked, and dropping into unconsciousness. Even a 15 minutes of dead-to-the-world sleep can make the headache go away or at least bring it to a tolerable level

    Hope you never have to experience that again. I can imagine it must have been horrible for a person who doesn’t usually have headaches. Glad you are feeling better — hope your new streak lasts another 31 years!

    • mj monaghan says:

      I took the strong stuff a bit too late, but did chase it with a diet Coke for the extra caffeine. I had heard that helps. I wish I could have nipped it earlier. Your advice is very good.

      Thank you so much for the comment and for your kind wishes, my friend.

  6. Joe says:

    Thankfully I’ve never suffered a migraine although just last night I had a headache right behind my right eye that kept me awake until 1:30 am. I generally try to avoid medicine if I can and for no particular reason really. But finally I broke down and took a couple ibuprofen. I sat down on the computer (not literally LoL) and surfed the Web for about 20 minutes before it kicked in. Once I was blissfully aware my head was feeling better, off to bed I went. Worked like a charm.

    And here’s another tip. If you’ve got a headache already, don’t punch yourself in the head!

    Take care friend!

    • mj monaghan says:

      You’re tough, Joe. I go straight for the medicine chest! :) I used to go sans meds as you, but I’m too old and cranky!

      Oh, and thanks for the “not-punching-it-makes-it-worse” suggestion. Definitely sound advice, my friend!

  7. Oh man, I’ve had migraines and the only thing that helps me is a heating pack on my head/over my eyes and going to sleep.
    And I’m glad you didn’t barf because there is almost nothing worse as an adult then barfing. Much different experience from when we were younger!

    • mj monaghan says:

      Boy, so many commenters have had migraines. You are a super-tough lot. Course you also do roller derby! Hmmm, heating pack. Hadn’t thought of that. I would have purchased anything – even though I was out of town – if it would have stopped the pain.

      You are SO right, nothing worse than barfing!!

  8. >No, not the Ray Stevens song – The Streak (1974), about running naked!
    – When I read that, I thought, “This is going to be a boring post. D*mn.” ;-)

    >She exclaimed, “I get it … you had a HEADACHE!”
    – YLB and the others who have commented here are not part of the “Men are big babies when ill” brigade. I am never tempted to clamber aboard that wagon because I believe babies get headaches, too. The wee ones just can’t tell us that, whereas the overgrown ones can. Very well. :-)

    >I need to know, in case there’s a “next time!”
    – I hope there is no next time. Have you looked back for possible triggers? That way you can snuff out the s*cker the moment it even *thinks* of coming up for air (and dragging you down without air).

    Here’s why I’m a fan of ‘Prevention is better’.

    I grew up by the coast and spent most weekends at the beach. As a child, I threw up fairly frequently at the beach. My parents and some of the doctors I was prodded by didn’t have any answers. Being a child helped. I would clean up quickly, eat again and scamper off to continue the more important work of bouncing in the waves or building sand castles.

    This wasn’t fun at all when I entered my teens. In my mid 20s, I was diagnosed as being photosensitive; a sun allergy if you will. An episode would start with a headache and end with me throwing up. My skin also burned easily and it hurt. The symptoms disappeared after an hour or two of rest, away from the offending light.

    As soon as I learnt what caused that thus far unknown, strange reaction, I have been taking precautions to avoid going out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. When I do, I wear a baseball cap pulled low over my eyes AND I use a brolly. My look elicits all sorts of looks and sometimes, comments. The genuinely concerned get a brief explanation; the rest I ignore at that point and rant about later. :-)

    As a result of being careful with the trigger, I have not experienced a headache or thrown up since … geez, I can’t remember. I’m not a pill popper, and I’m glad my condition has a simpler way out.

    I hope your problem, too, is one that can be prevented just as easily, mj.

    I read through your post again to see if I could enjoy your typical humour that I didn’t the first time. I know you are trying to make light of your situation, but I just couldn’t bring myself to laugh. This is no reflection on your ability to be humourous. I do not find pain funny. So you see, it’s a classic, “It’s not you, it’s me” situation. :-)


    • mj monaghan says:

      You, know, I’m with you, Kate (note overuse of commas!) – it really wasn’t funny. The pain was so excruciating. I really like your idea on looking for the triggers. The bright sunlight probably had a lot to do with the onset. I did have sunglasses on, but the sun was constantly on the left side of my face for hours – maybe 5 or 6 hours! That was probably the trigger. And then I didn’t take anything for another two to three hours. Not very smart.

      In terms of MLB, she was very sympathetic, but after I went on and on about it (for about 15-20 minutes straight, she chuckled, more than exclaimed, not at the pain, but more at the “broken record” she was listening to! :)

  9. Candice says:

    Migraine sufferers unite! Here’s hoping your head stays clear of pain, you avoid the porcelain for years and years to come and MTV reverts back to its original fabulousness!

    I remember watching MTV’s very first moments on the air, wonderful!

    Not today’s drivel.

    Blech (to today’s MTV and migraines)!

  10. Oh no, MJ! That is just awful. I’ve had those “I’m about to die” headaches before — but unfortunately, I have no advice. :( Darla’s right, though — cutting down screen time, and cutting out other things like caffeine keeps them from coming back the next day. Other than that, I just hope there is no next time for you! Yikes.

    I was sick this past week, came on like a ton of bricks, but thankfully was gone in 2 days. During the illness-period, though, I felt just like the endearing nickname my husband uses for me sometimes (he’s a computer geek): the Melissa Virus.

    I almost wrote a post called, “I am the Melissa Virus,” but thankfully I recovered, and didn’t want to look back. Best wishes to you for continued health!

    • mj monaghan says:

      Nooooo! – cut down screen time?? I am MJ, and I am a blogoholic! :)

      So sorry to hear you were sick last week. Must have been flu, huh? Glad you’re better and moving forward, Melissa. We can’t have you off the “net” for very long.

  11. Oh god, that is terrible! I really feel for you with the pain you went through.

    I’ve had migraines since I was about 12. They always have the visual aura, zigzag lines and a blind spot so I have about 10 minutes to take something before the nausea hits. Usually excedrin migraine works fine, but I’ve been on imitrex in the past too for a complicated migraine. I have to be in a dark room for hours and sleep always helps me a ton.

    Sometimes being on the computer is a big trigger so I have to limit my time blogging/reading etc. and you KNOW I have an addictive personality what with the pinterest crap I’ve been sucked into now and all…;)

    • mj monaghan says:

      D-Woww – It only happened too me once. You’ve had them since you were 12! That’s horrible. Wow, only 10 minutes warning? Don’t know how you do it. HOURS!!

      Maybe I need to be off the computer more? Don’t know if I can do it.

      Have I been a bad influence on you?? You know, the whole addictive computer stuff and all. I just got sucked into StumbleUpon – dad-gummit!! Good luck with pinterest! :)

  12. territerri says:

    I had one ONCE. I was out with my then-fiance, now-husband on a Friday night. I had to ask him to take me home. You know it’s bad when I forgo a night on the town to go to bed, especially at that age.

    I think sleep is what cured it. I’ve never had one since, thankfully.

    • mj monaghan says:

      You know, Terri, I thought it was lack of sleep at first, but now think it was something else. Maybe a virus, not sure? Can viruses cause them, even? :)

      Glad you’ve only had one. It’s horrible isn’t it?

  13. Yikes, sorry you had to experience that and glad that it was short-lived (though, I’m sure it did not seem that way at the time). I vote for Judy’s remedy! And, if I find myself in your spot, as I eat the ice cream, I will pray to the Porcelain Gods that I am not at their mercy after consuming it.

    • mj monaghan says:

      I’m with you on the ice cream and yes, it thankfully was short. I read on line that some can last for days! What??? Days??? How awful. Wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy, if I had an enemy!

  14. melissakoski says:

    I got a few migraines and would lay in a darkened room trying to measure my breathing until I fell asleep to escape. Turns out I was giving myself them by stuffing down too many packaged food and chemicals. Hope you’re feeling better. (:

    • mj monaghan says:

      Thank you, Melissa. I worked on slowing my breathing and going deeper on the inhale and exhale to move more oxygen to my brain, but that only made me focus too hard. I think you’re right about the stuff in food today – can’t be good for the body!

  15. How did you get that picture of my ex-wife ?

  16. I got these for a spell when I was in college. I didn’t ever find anything that worked aside from just going to bed in a dark room with a cold towel on my head and a night’s sleep. I don’t know if it’s the sleep that does it, but even today there is a particular type of headache that I get (nowhere near as bad as the college ones) that just won’t pass until the next day. Glad you are you are feeling better now.

    PS – I agree – Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max are indeed God’s drink and are very comforting in tmes of despair!

    • mj monaghan says:

      Sleep always helps me with a normal headache – I know what you mean. When I’m way short on sleep I get those as well.

      So glad you’re a believer in Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. Everyone should be, really, right?? :)

  17. Debra Kristi says:

    So sorry you had to go through that mj. When you aren’t used to it, it can sure take its toll on you. It’s a shame you weren’t able to get out and enjoy a good time with Ms. Tameri. ;D I’ve endured migraines ever since my son was born. They used to last up to 5 or 6 days long. I’d trap myself in a dark room, nauseous and dying. Imitrex doesn’t work for me. I now see a neurologist on a regular basis and take a daily preventative medication. As a result, when they hit they are far less severe. Zomig is the medication that works the best for me, most of the time.

    I often find I have a combination of a migraine and a sinus headache, so one medication alone won’t solve the problem. If you feel the pain in the front of your forehead, that’s a sinus headache. JFYI One time it got so bad my husband took me to the ER. Never again. They gave me Demerol. I could barely walk, we came home, I threw up, fell asleep for hours and woke up with a headache just as big as the one I had before we went to the ER. What was the point? A lot of wasted, painful hours sitting in the ER, as headaches are not a priority.

    Hope you never have to go through that again. So yuck.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Five or six days – oh my gosh!! I don’t know how you did it. It’s weird what triggers these. And daily meds, to boot. Whoa, you are a trooper, Debra!

      I kind of wondered if maybe it was just a really sever sinus headache, as well. I thought about the ER, but I knew I would be a low priority and be in pain for several hours in a flourescent-lit room (horrible), so why do that, huh? Looks like it was not a good experience for you, either!

      Thank you for your sympathy/empathy, my friend! And I really feel for you as well.

      As for Tameri, I wished I would have connected with her. She could have shown me more of the area. Next time!

  18. Sunshine says:

    Sorry to hear your relapse 31 years later . . . er, hope you have made a clean break from the porcelain bowl by now :( and another sorry, can’t say I ever had such a massive head ache as yours so I can’t offer a remedy.
    Maybe you just need good ol’ fashion water on ice with a slice of lemon and a nice nap. :)

    • mj monaghan says:

      You know, you bring up a good point. I was pretty dehydrated down there. That may have had something to do with it. Water cannot be overrated.

      I’m so glad it’s over and I’m back to the land of the living, Sunshine! :)

  19. Clip Snark says:

    My solution to every ailment is “Drink more water.” :-) I have had migraines and just your run of the mill headaches. Sometimes a cold or hot compress helps. I used to have one of those gel eye masks (hey, what happened to that?) and the cold helped me but everyone is different.

  20. Hi mj, The only thing worse than pain is nausea. You must be feeling better if you’re able to blog again! Stay well.

    • mj monaghan says:

      I’m with you, Naomi, on the nausea thing. I’d rather have diarrhea for two days than throw up once – just my thought, anyway! :) Thanks for the get-well, my friend.

  21. littlesundog says:

    I have had cluster headaches for two decades. They come in “clusters” generally, with long breaks in between. I may not have a headache for 3 months, and then suddenly have 3 or 4 a week for the next month or two. I start out with over the counter meds (Excedrine Extra Strength works well) and an ice bag, but if after an hour the headache increases, I go for the RX stuff… and sleep it off with the ice bag on my head. I have had a few get out of control like yours did, and most of the time it gets that bad because I didn’t take measures right away to deal with the pain (eat and take something, keep cool, and rest – quit moving around). It does help to keep the room dark.

    Anything could have triggered it… it sounds like it just got away from you. And… when you panic and dwell on the pain it seems worse. Glad you managed to get a little relief from it, but oh what a misery, eh?

    • mj monaghan says:

      Two decades? You are a tough cookie. You’re so right about taking care of it right away. I had let mine build up for about seven hours. Probably the worst mistake I could have made.

      I feel your pain, though yours is much more than mine since you have them so frequently. I do hope that they lessen in frequency and severity, Lori. That is awful.

  22. MJ, I am so so sorry you were feeling terrible while in sunny San Diego. I can’t believe you were IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD and didn’t even call. I mean, really! I have loads of advil, tylenol, and excedrine migraine. I would’ve shared.

    I hope you’re feeling better and just for future reference, there is a sweet little house for sale across the street. We’re 3 miles from the beach, you’d love it here. ;P

  23. Touch wood I don’t get migraines, but I am of the take a pill and have a nap persuasion. If I can’t nap then I just have to deal. So understand the exploding head. It felt like I was there with you. :)

  24. I wondered where you were. Glad to hear you’re okay now.

    I get migraines pretty often. I don’t like to take prescriptions meds, though the Imitrex k8edid mentions below did work for me. It just made my head feel REALLY hot, and that was weird. I take Excedrin Migraine, the strongest version of it available. For a really bad headache, I take two instead of one. I also keep cold compresses in the freezer, and I apply them directly to my head. I feel like a vampire, too, because I avoid light. It makes my head hurt worse.

    I hope you don’t have another one of these buggers.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Thanks, Andra. It was a strange occurrence.

      I think what I took was the generic of Excedrin Migraine, and I took two of them. I did run a washcloth in cold water and that did help some. It seemed like just about everything made my head worse – looking at tv, light, moving, etc. I have a pretty high threshold for pain and this was brutal.

      I hope your frequency declines. I really empathize with you!

  25. craftwhack says:

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had a headache this horrible. And I never want to! But somehow I’m thinking if you get another one, a quick gander at Martha Quinn may help.

  26. Judy Berman says:

    Michael, this may sound weird but I read that ice cream works. It does freeze something in your brain that dulls or stops the pain. Two friends of mine who had H-U-G-E headaches tried this remedy and it worked. Hope you never have to go thru anything like that again. I’ve had a couple of beauties. But, from the sounds of what my friends have gone thru, mine were not migraines.

    • mj monaghan says:

      I will go straight for the ice cream, next time, Judy. Sounds so much better. I, too, hope this doesn’t happen again. And you know, I’m not even sure it was a migraine, in my case. I do know that it was certainly the most headache pain I had EVER experienced.

    • I am definitely trying this the next time a headache threatens!

      MJ I’m sorry you were so ill. I spent 3 days this week battling a horrible cold, the sort that pretends to be flu but isn’t quite… I feel your pain! Good luck avoiding headaches in future ;)

  27. k8edid says:

    I have migraines, have had them for most of my life. I take Imitrex, when I can keep them down they work. I feel for you. My husband has only probably had one headache in his life, and it was a bad one like yours – but it gave him an appreciation for the pain I had to endure on a weekly basis. But I fully understand the feeling that banging one’s head on the wall could not possibly hurt more than not banging one’s head on the wall. I surely hope you don’t have any more headaches, but if you do, keep those pills around. The combination of caffeine, aspirin and tylenol is about the best OTC relief you will find…


    • mj monaghan says:

      Oh my gosh, my friend, how can you stand those cruel, gut-wrenching headaches? You are much tougher than I am. I have a tremendous admiration for what you’ve endured for most of your life. If I would have had a hammer, I would have pounded my head! Thanks for sharing about your experience.

Love to Hear from You:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s