Prologue

LIVING WITH A HEADACHE

Every day for twelve years I woke up with a headache. To someone who gets a headache maybe twice a month, a daily headache must seem pretty amazing, but if you're reading this book, it's probably because you can relate.

My headaches began during my senior year in high school. I was growing pretty fast and I had developed some tendonitis in my knees, so I frequently took aspirin. Since my knees hurt most of the time, my mom had strategically placed aspirin bottles in every bathroom and in the kitchen. Sometime during that year, my knees quit bothering me, but I still needed to take the aspirin. Every time I woke up in the morning, I had a slight headache, so I took a couple of aspirin. After school, another headache, so a couple more aspirin, and then maybe one before dinner.

Within a few years, I started my day with three aspirin and a Tylenol. The pain felt like a vise on my head, squeezing hardest on the temples. The base of my skull was very stiff and tender, so I'd stand in the shower with the water pounding the back of my neck, until I started to come around. By the time I was in graduate school, I started each day with four extra-strength Excedrin and an extra-long shower just to make the headache tolerable. By the end of each day, I had consumed ten to twelve Excedrin. Not many people realized my condition. Usually, I had taken so much pain reliever that I could behave normally, and those close to me rarely knew how often I was taking aspirin. I actually assumed that my headaches were somehow normal! I mean, wasn't there an entire aisle in the supermarket dedicated to headache remedies? Commercials for headache sufferers were on T.V. all the time, so I figured my condition was normal. Certainly, if I woke up with daily chest pain, somebody would want to cut me open to see what's wrong with me, but a throbbing head was somehow acceptable.  Eventually, about once a month, I had the headache supreme. Sometimes the pain was on the right, sometimes on the left, or maybe the slam-dunk squeeze on both sides...and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Curled up in a dark room, yet close to a bathroom in case I had to throw-up from the pain, I learned to just ride it out. Nothing could stop it. I had tried different kinds of medications for this one, but nothing worked. Once I had it, I had it. Sort of like having the worst muscle cramp you can imagine, wrapped around your head.

A migraine is a headache that hurts so badly that it actually makes you nauseous and you need to curl up in a dark room. This is what I had and what the medical community calls a "common migraine". Common? Oh, great. I guess since lots of other people get these, too, and don't die either, I'm supposed to feel better. Turns out there's also a "classic migraine", which is identical to the common kind, but you need to see a weird aura and flashy lights just before the migraine hits. Of all the migraine sufferers out there, 10% get the classic kind, for which there are preventive medications and special diets, but have limited effect on the common kind.  During my education, I completed a rotation in myofascial dysfunction. Myo means muscle, and fascial refers to the connective tissue coating that wraps around muscles. Dysfunction is the wonder word of the 80's. Any time that something doesn't work right, it's dysfunctional. During my training, I treated many patients who were having the same symptoms that I was, but only half of them felt better from our state-of-the-art treatment. (I didn't feel any better, either.) Eventually, these patients were diagnosed with conditions that were unpreventable and barely treatable, like "atypical migraine", fibromyalgia, or myocytis (which means chronic muscle inflammation). Since the clinic couldn't seem to cure or prevent these patients' headaches, I think the doctors felt obligated to label them with a respectable condition.  After graduation, I explored most of the usual methods for headache treatment. Chiropractic care felt good after the "adjustment," but I was right back to where I started a day later. Occasionally, I would sense a tremendous amount of pressure and pain in or behind my sinuses, so I went to a sinus specialist who said that my sinuses were normal. Physician friends of mine prescribed various headache medications, but nothing ever prevented my headaches and common migraines.

After three years in private practice, I gave up treating patients with severe myofascial dysfunction (or "atypical" migraine, fibromyalgia, or myocytis). I figured that if my headaches hadn't improved with the best treatment that money could buy (which I received for free), how could I charge somebody for a service that I questioned myself?  In spite of my skepticism, I was convinced that my headaches were a result of some sort of muscular condition. My type of daily headache had been officially diagnosed as a muscle contraction headache, or tension-type headache (tension refers to the actual tightening or tensing that a muscle experiences, instead of emotional tension and/or stress). These daily headaches were thought to be separate from my occasional common migraines; however, I somehow felt that they were related. I believed that my migraines were somehow connected to my chronic tension headaches. Additionally, my headaches presented with the same  symptoms that severely dysfunctional muscles did (pain and pressure, extreme soreness, tenderness, tightness and throbbing).

Although I was pleased to find out that I didn't have some kind of brain tumor (which I was convinced that I must have had), I felt frustrated when told I was simply suffering from "stress." I wasn't satisfied with the current treatment methods, medications and side-effects that are designed to provide relief from the headache pain, so my goal was to figure out how to prevent my headaches.  My headaches began in 1977, and it was in the summer of 1989 that I figured it out. Over a period of several days, I designed and redesigned a comfortable method of treatment that I thought would, or should, prevent my headaches. When I was satisfied with the final version, I tried it out. The next morning I woke up without a headache. Ten years later (as of this 3rd writing), I still awake headache free, and have not had a common migraine since that summer. This entire book is dedicated to the process I went through and how the chronic headache sufferer may also find relief. I can almost guarantee that if I told you now what the cause of these headaches and migraines was and how they are prevented, you wouldn't believe me. (Besides, how many books have only a prologue and that's it?) These first few chapters are necessary for you to understand the big headache picture. Then you will find the simple solution believable and logical. In fact, you may be puzzled as to why someone hadn't already thought of it!  The first patient I treated with this new method was my girlfriend. She also awoke every day with a headache and also had regularly occurring common migraines (far more than I ever had). I hadn't been aware of it, but when she was younger, her parents had taken her to every headache specialist they could find. The neurologists confirmed she was having common migraines (such severe pain on one or both sides of the head that it causes sensitivity to light and nausea) and daily tension headaches. Her doctors couldn't help prevent her headaches, however, because "they were probably due to stress." As an adult, she was taken by friends to the emergency room for a shot of Demerol (a pain killing narcotic) on several occasions for her debilitating migraines. Of course, when I presented my hypothesis of headache cause and prevention to her, she politely told me that her headaches were different, that she had been to all the specialists, but thank you anyway. I told her that I really thought I had something that would help and wouldn't she just try it for two weeks? In hindsight, I suppose she was just humoring me, (we had just started dated, so she couldn't tell me I was a nut...yet), but she agreed. After two weeks, I asked her  how she was doing. "Something is going on and I think it's good," she replied. "Let me try this a little while longer." Two weeks  later, her morning headaches were practically gone, and she had ceased having migraines. She's not been to the hospital since.  Two years later, we were married.

Eventually, word of this method of treatment and prevention spread. Several friends of mine who were attorneys insisted that I apply for a United States patent. I did, and my patent attorney warned me that a patent usually took a couple of years to get. Three months after the application was sent in, I received my first United States patent. (I've since received a two more patents, and an international patent).  After I had treated several hundred patients, our local news channel aired a feature on what I was doing.  That news segment was picked up by the network and shown nationally.  I received calls from everywhere, with most of the calls reporting the same symptoms that I had been suffering.  Unfortunately, a lot of people were disappointed when they that this type of treatment was not yet available in their town (that's no longer the case).

Wouldn't you think that if someone had come up with a logical hypothesis for the cause and prevention of recurring headaches, without medications, the world would come knocking? Not so at the beginning. Patients who had suffered for years with headaches (but who are now pain free) used to frequently ask, "How come everybody doesn't know about this? You've got to get it out there!"  In the first two editions of this book, my response was, "I'm trying...", but as you will soon discover, it's getting more and more out there everyday.

I had lunch with a clinical psychologist several years ago who also doubles as a newspaper and book editor. He had just read my research manuscript and asked what my motivation was. "Well," I said, "I have a personal vendetta against headaches because I know how miserable they are. If someone out there is suffering as my wife or I did, I'd like to help."  His response to me was, "If you want to get the word out to your fellow headache sufferers, you ought to write a book that they can relate to!"

O.K. then, here goes....

"Most people don't realize how headaches limit and control your life. I used to get migraines that lasted for four days straight, every other week. Now, I get them maybe once a month, and I'm still progressing! Thank God for Dr. Boyd who had the insight, knowledge, and compassion to want to help people like me lead a richer, fuller life without headaches." Sharon Koperwas, West Bloomfield, MI

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Chapter Menu

Meet Dr. Boyd

Prologue

LIVING WITH A HEADACHE

Every day for twelve years I woke up with a headache. To someone who gets a headache maybe twice a month, a daily headache must seem pretty amazing, but if you're reading this book, it's probably because you can relate.

My headaches began during my senior year in high school. I was growing pretty fast and I had developed some tendonitis in my knees, so I frequently took aspirin. Since my knees hurt most of the time, my mom had strategically placed aspirin bottles in every bathroom and in the kitchen. Sometime during that year, my knees quit bothering me, but I still needed to take the aspirin. Every time I woke up in the morning, I had a slight headache, so I took a couple of aspirin. After school, another headache, so a couple more aspirin, and then maybe one before dinner.

Within a few years, I started my day with three aspirin and a Tylenol. The pain felt like a vise on my head, squeezing hardest on the temples. The base of my skull was very stiff and tender, so I'd stand in the shower with the water pounding the back of my neck, until I started to come around. By the time I was in graduate school, I started each day with four extra-strength Excedrin and an extra-long shower just to make the headache tolerable. By the end of each day, I had consumed ten to twelve Excedrin. Not many people realized my condition. Usually, I had taken so much pain reliever that I could behave normally, and those close to me rarely knew how often I was taking aspirin. I actually assumed that my headaches were somehow normal! I mean, wasn't there an entire aisle in the supermarket dedicated to headache remedies? Commercials for headache sufferers were on T.V. all the time, so I figured my condition was normal. Certainly, if I woke up with daily chest pain, somebody would want to cut me open to see what's wrong with me, but a throbbing head was somehow acceptable.  Eventually, about once a month, I had the headache supreme. Sometimes the pain was on the right, sometimes on the left, or maybe the slam-dunk squeeze on both sides...and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Curled up in a dark room, yet close to a bathroom in case I had to throw-up from the pain, I learned to just ride it out. Nothing could stop it. I had tried different kinds of medications for this one, but nothing worked. Once I had it, I had it. Sort of like having the worst muscle cramp you can imagine, wrapped around your head.

A migraine is a headache that hurts so badly that it actually makes you nauseous and you need to curl up in a dark room. This is what I had and what the medical community calls a "common migraine". Common? Oh, great. I guess since lots of other people get these, too, and don't die either, I'm supposed to feel better. Turns out there's also a "classic migraine", which is identical to the common kind, but you need to see a weird aura and flashy lights just before the migraine hits. Of all the migraine sufferers out there, 10% get the classic kind, for which there are preventive medications and special diets, but have limited effect on the common kind.  During my education, I completed a rotation in myofascial dysfunction. Myo means muscle, and fascial refers to the connective tissue coating that wraps around muscles. Dysfunction is the wonder word of the 80's. Any time that something doesn't work right, it's dysfunctional. During my training, I treated many patients who were having the same symptoms that I was, but only half of them felt better from our state-of-the-art treatment. (I didn't feel any better, either.) Eventually, these patients were diagnosed with conditions that were unpreventable and barely treatable, like "atypical migraine", fibromyalgia, or myocytis (which means chronic muscle inflammation). Since the clinic couldn't seem to cure or prevent these patients' headaches, I think the doctors felt obligated to label them with a respectable condition.  After graduation, I explored most of the usual methods for headache treatment. Chiropractic care felt good after the "adjustment," but I was right back to where I started a day later. Occasionally, I would sense a tremendous amount of pressure and pain in or behind my sinuses, so I went to a sinus specialist who said that my sinuses were normal. Physician friends of mine prescribed various headache medications, but nothing ever prevented my headaches and common migraines.

After three years in private practice, I gave up treating patients with severe myofascial dysfunction (or "atypical" migraine, fibromyalgia, or myocytis). I figured that if my headaches hadn't improved with the best treatment that money could buy (which I received for free), how could I charge somebody for a service that I questioned myself?  In spite of my skepticism, I was convinced that my headaches were a result of some sort of muscular condition. My type of daily headache had been officially diagnosed as a muscle contraction headache, or tension-type headache (tension refers to the actual tightening or tensing that a muscle experiences, instead of emotional tension and/or stress). These daily headaches were thought to be separate from my occasional common migraines; however, I somehow felt that they were related. I believed that my migraines were somehow connected to my chronic tension headaches. Additionally, my headaches presented with the same  symptoms that severely dysfunctional muscles did (pain and pressure, extreme soreness, tenderness, tightness and throbbing).

Although I was pleased to find out that I didn't have some kind of brain tumor (which I was convinced that I must have had), I felt frustrated when told I was simply suffering from "stress." I wasn't satisfied with the current treatment methods, medications and side-effects that are designed to provide relief from the headache pain, so my goal was to figure out how to prevent my headaches.  My headaches began in 1977, and it was in the summer of 1989 that I figured it out. Over a period of several days, I designed and redesigned a comfortable method of treatment that I thought would, or should, prevent my headaches. When I was satisfied with the final version, I tried it out. The next morning I woke up without a headache. Ten years later (as of this 3rd writing), I still awake headache free, and have not had a common migraine since that summer. This entire book is dedicated to the process I went through and how the chronic headache sufferer may also find relief. I can almost guarantee that if I told you now what the cause of these headaches and migraines was and how they are prevented, you wouldn't believe me. (Besides, how many books have only a prologue and that's it?) These first few chapters are necessary for you to understand the big headache picture. Then you will find the simple solution believable and logical. In fact, you may be puzzled as to why someone hadn't already thought of it!  The first patient I treated with this new method was my girlfriend. She also awoke every day with a headache and also had regularly occurring common migraines (far more than I ever had). I hadn't been aware of it, but when she was younger, her parents had taken her to every headache specialist they could find. The neurologists confirmed she was having common migraines (such severe pain on one or both sides of the head that it causes sensitivity to light and nausea) and daily tension headaches. Her doctors couldn't help prevent her headaches, however, because "they were probably due to stress." As an adult, she was taken by friends to the emergency room for a shot of Demerol (a pain killing narcotic) on several occasions for her debilitating migraines. Of course, when I presented my hypothesis of headache cause and prevention to her, she politely told me that her headaches were different, that she had been to all the specialists, but thank you anyway. I told her that I really thought I had something that would help and wouldn't she just try it for two weeks? In hindsight, I suppose she was just humoring me, (we had just started dated, so she couldn't tell me I was a nut...yet), but she agreed. After two weeks, I asked her  how she was doing. "Something is going on and I think it's good," she replied. "Let me try this a little while longer." Two weeks  later, her morning headaches were practically gone, and she had ceased having migraines. She's not been to the hospital since.  Two years later, we were married.

Eventually, word of this method of treatment and prevention spread. Several friends of mine who were attorneys insisted that I apply for a United States patent. I did, and my patent attorney warned me that a patent usually took a couple of years to get. Three months after the application was sent in, I received my first United States patent. (I've since received a two more patents, and an international patent).  After I had treated several hundred patients, our local news channel aired a feature on what I was doing.  That news segment was picked up by the network and shown nationally.  I received calls from everywhere, with most of the calls reporting the same symptoms that I had been suffering.  Unfortunately, a lot of people were disappointed when they that this type of treatment was not yet available in their town (that's no longer the case).

Wouldn't you think that if someone had come up with a logical hypothesis for the cause and prevention of recurring headaches, without medications, the world would come knocking? Not so at the beginning. Patients who had suffered for years with headaches (but who are now pain free) used to frequently ask, "How come everybody doesn't know about this? You've got to get it out there!"  In the first two editions of this book, my response was, "I'm trying...", but as you will soon discover, it's getting more and more out there everyday.

I had lunch with a clinical psychologist several years ago who also doubles as a newspaper and book editor. He had just read my research manuscript and asked what my motivation was. "Well," I said, "I have a personal vendetta against headaches because I know how miserable they are. If someone out there is suffering as my wife or I did, I'd like to help."  His response to me was, "If you want to get the word out to your fellow headache sufferers, you ought to write a book that they can relate to!"

O.K. then, here goes....

"Most people don't realize how headaches limit and control your life. I used to get migraines that lasted for four days straight, every other week. Now, I get them maybe once a month, and I'm still progressing! Thank God for Dr. Boyd who had the insight, knowledge, and compassion to want to help people like me lead a richer, fuller life without headaches." Sharon Koperwas, West Bloomfield, MI