by Dr. Mark Wiley
Headaches are one of the most common disorders known to man, and the human race has been suffering from them since the beginning of time. Everything has been done to try to cure them: from drilling of the skull and bloodletting to prescription drug therapy and surgery. Yet, the challenge to prevent headaches, to find a cure and to bring relief is ever present in every country around the world.
The basic problem headache sufferers face is the complexity of their condition. Not all headaches are the same; not everyone experiences headaches and their symptoms the same way, and the same trigger does not always cause the same type of headache.
What’s more, headaches encompass physical, physiological and emotional dimensions. In short, they are complex structures that need a comprehensive approach to achieve their banishment.
The reason I ask is because that’s how I felt every day for over three decades. But, during this time, I was also deeply involved in martial arts and traditional spiritual practices so I kept telling myself, “I’m the King of Pain. I can take this. I can wait it out and defeat it.”
What were my migraines like? Life shattering and soul destroying. For instance, one fall day, as I walked along Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, positive thoughts of the future filled my mind. Life was good. Twenty seconds later, during the onset of a migraine, I wanted to die.
It struck from behind like a truck slamming into a wall. Pain seared through my head as effortlessly as a chainsaw glides through balsawood. My head felt like it was being crushed from the outside and pushed apart from the inside at the same time. At the same time, it was like someone was jamming a screwdriver into my right eye, and a rock was being wedged under the base of my skull. Shivers, cold sweats and shaky knees forced me to drop in pain, gasping for air.
To deaden the pain, I began scraping my forehead across the ground and then along the cool stone wall. Lunch came back up on me as violently as a dam suddenly broken by the force of a raging flood. Deep, dark spots and burning tears obstructed my vision as I begged for death. But I was intimate with this pain, and knew very well that neither death nor God would come to my rescue.
And yet, this was only an average attack; not even close to being one of the worst. It was just another in the life-long series of daily migraine, and cluster, tension, toxic and rebound headaches I had experienced for nearly three decades. My migraines persisted EVERY DAY, despite taking an average of 14 capsules of various medications a day and having seen and been treated by some of the best-trained physicians of Western medicine.
The constant, uncontrollable suffering was destroying me. I couldn’t exercise on a regular basis because of severe headaches caused by jumping, running and lifting. This was particularly demoralizing as I was a professional martial artist. During college, as a result of being bed-ridden, I had to do extracurricular work to make up for missed classes and exams. I knew if the headaches kept recurring on this schedule for much longer I would, in the immortal words of Ed Grimly, “Go mental!”
You see, I began life 2-½ months premature, weighing in at only 1 pound, 9 ounces. My first four months were spent in the hospital. I had below average bone development, experienced breathing difficulties, and suffered infantile spasms, which are now believed to have been deep seizures. Doctors now think all this resulted in the chronic musculoskeletal pain and mixed headaches that dogged me since childhood (or perhaps birth).
My parents selflessly spent a tremendous amount of time and money trying to cure these pains the Western way, but to no avail. By the time I was 13, I was experiencing “rebound” headaches—additional headaches caused by the body’s reaction to the combination and large volume of prescription and over-the-counter medications in my system. At different times, I was prescribed beta blockers, and calcium channel blocker drugs. At one point, I was taking a combination of two Midrin, two Fioricet and two Excedrin at one swallow—several times a day! This powerful migraine treatment didn’t always relieve the pain, nor did it keep my headaches from recurring. When the prescription capsules were unable to do their job, and my headache pain was so severe and debilitating, I would be taken to the emergency room where both Demurral and Samaritan were administered intravenously along with Zofran for nausea and vomiting. Even with this mixture, it would often take an additional four hours for the pain to dissipate. In short, while Western methods did treat the symptoms of the headache (i.e., pain, aura, cold sweats, nausea), they did my headache pain no lasting good and caused short-term harm to my body.
In 1982, when I was 13, my father introduced me to his chiropractor, and this visit began my journey into alternative health and wellness. I spent the better part of the 1990s traveling around the world to meet with traditional healers in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. I sought out those rumored to be Eastern geniuses of so-called “alternative” and “holistic” medicine, whose patients reached their waiting rooms by climbing mountains or hacking through jungles. Acupuncturists in Japan, Qigong masters in Taiwan, bone setters in Malaysia, faith healers in the Philippines… I’ve been there, done that.
To my dismay, I found that while their methods of diagnosis and treatment are diametrically opposed to, and far less toxic than the Western model, their treatments actually offered no greater, long-term relief from my chronic headaches.
Then it happened: One morning I just woke up and decided I had had enough. I decided to take my health and well-being into my own hands, rather than expecting someone else to take care of them for me. I read every book and journal study I could find on headache etiology and treatment. I met with leading experts in Western pain management and Eastern alternative therapies to discuss the topic and my condition and observations. It wasn’t until I stepped back from the forest that I saw the trees, each one of them individually, for the first time. It was then that I began to really understand the variety of factors causing my headaches, and the answer to eliminating the so-called “triggers” from my life, and, by extension, the headaches themselves.
What is the bottom line in my story?
After more than 30 years of skull-melting, eye-blinding headache pain, I finally reached the top of the mountain, put all the wisdom together—conventional and unconventional—and I am here to tell you, I killed the monsters forever. And now I want to tell you how you can kill them, too, and get on with a life worth living.
To come to the point where you are psychologically ready to stop playing the role of victim to the headache and servant to the physician/healer takes great courage and discipline. I am confident you have what it takes to outwit your headaches and take back control of your life. So do it. I encourage you to do it now, without another moment’s delay. I promise your life will change in innumerable ways with the coming of lasting pain relief. Do it now, because no one except you gives a damn about the quality of your life. This book will show you the way. All you have to do is make and keep a personal promise and commitment to yourself that you will see The Headache Relief Action Plan through to the end.
I was able to do it. And I know you can do it, too.
I’m proof… And I believe in you!