Why the Flu Isn’t Just the Flu When You Live With Occipital Neuralgia


Imagine this. You have a 103-degree fever, you’re freezing cold despite the five blankets on top of you, you have awful body aches in every joint of your body, a stuffy nose so you can’t breathe, and no desire to keep your eyes open.

Welcome to flu season.

Except, the flu isn’t just the flu when you also live with occipital neuralgia. It’s a physical catastrophe.

The virus infiltrates my body, inflames my tissues and makes my body ache. My nerves also take a huge hit and get turned into a raging electrical storm that can’t be tamed. My daily pain level is already more than most people can tolerate, so this puts it up to extreme levels. Body aches and extreme head pain create pure anguish.

Most people would head to the store, stock up on Theraflu and sleep through the misery. Here’s my problem: Over-the-counter flu medicines don’t mx with the meds I need to control those extreme pain levels. So which one do I choose? Pain control or flu control? Either way, one of those won’t get treated, and I’m left here to cope.

And let’s talk about getting rest. Common sense tells you you’re sick, so you lie in your comfortable bed, on your fluffy pillows and you sleep. But for someone with occipital neuralgia, lying on a pillow is like putting your head on a bed of glass shards encompassed by a hot bed of lava. There is no resting comfortably. Every hair follicle on the back of my head feels like it’s being slowly ripped out — one by one. Four days in bed with the flu feels like four days in a torture chamber. I try to sit up and give my head a moment off the pillow, but what I really want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. Crying is too painful so I can’t even do that.

Sleep is how our body heals and replenishes itself. You’d think those pain meds would help knock me out. Well, no such luck. When your pain levels are that high, you never really get rid of it. The pain meds only take the edge off. So when you have a flock of angry woodpeckers going to town at your head, a volcano erupting and spilling hot molten lava down your scalp and an unmanned jack hammer on your skull, you don’t sleep. You’re left to feel every ounce of agony and pure exhaustion. Every single second of it.

The flu and occipital neuralgia aren’t a pleasant mix. It’s much like an electrical appliance and water. These two things shouldn’t come near each other. So wash your hands people and stay home if you’re sick. I already battle chronic pain daily. I don’t need a war.

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