Dancing with a Headache

I’m one of those lucky people who gets frequent headaches. All sorts too!  Tension headaches, caffeine headaches, not-enough-sleep headaches, weather headaches, and even those extra special migraines. Thankfully, I don’t think they are considered “chronic” as in 15+ days per month, but they show up often enough that I buy my Excedrin at Costco (one of those bulk warehouse places for those unfamiliar).

Yesterday, I woke up with what I call an ice pick headache. The pain was sharp and specifically located at my right temple. It was like an ice pick had been jammed into my head, hence the nickname.

This kind of headache is stubborn. I’ll take Excedrin, drink tea, drink extra water, lay down with ice packs on my head and back of my neck, and it still refuses to go away. It was still hanging around this morning when I started writing this and is fighting for dear life right now, but I think it’s finally about ready to give up. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

Yesterday was also my one dance lesson for the week with Teacher (he is at a competition this weekend, so no Friday lesson). Well obviously I wasn’t going to let a stupid ice pick ruin that!

I got to the studio early with the idea that I would stretch, warm up slowly and get a little practice in before my lesson. First problem I discovered was my phone battery was almost dead. I really like/need music in my ears when I practice at the studio, and I keep that music on my phone. It helps me focus and forget anyone who is there and might be watching me. There were four lessons going on, so already I felt out of place being the only single person on the floor. Then the noise from four different conversations got to be too much for the ice pick jammed in my head.

Luckily, my studio has two smaller rooms and one of them was open, so I moved and did some stretching in the dark. I attempted my rumba walks too, but without my music and me already not feeling well, I felt awkward and off-balance. My demons were only too happy to chime in with their own tune. I gave up after about 15 minutes and just sat on one of the couches in the main ballroom, watching the other lessons and trying to massage some of the tension out of my neck.

When it was finally time for my lesson, Teacher had already guessed I wasn’t in the best of moods. He’s brilliant at adapting to whatever his students need though, and yesterday was no exception. At one point, I asked him to move because in order to look at him, I had to face the windows that make up the front of the studio and the reflections from the sun were too bright for my poor head. Instead of just changing spots so he faced the windows, he moved us into one of the smaller rooms with no windows and just used an open back door to let in some indirect light, instead of turning on the harsh overhead flourescents. Much better.

I think everyone would agree that ballroom can act as an escape from reality. What I love is it can be an escape from my physical ailments too. My headache throbbed once or twice during my lesson to remind me it was there, but the rest of the time I was barely conscious of it. I was too focused on the dancing and conquering that stupid spin in our cha cha routine that I’m so consistently inconsistent in doing successfully. At least we narrowed down the problem to my core. I’m not holding it in through the whole spin and when I let it go is when I fall over.

I also tried to remember my commitments to myself: don’t expect perfection, don’t overthink and trust myself. I didn’t do as well with them this week, but at least I thought of them and I tried!

By the time the lesson was over, the head pain had lessened a bit. Once again, focusing on dance, even if I wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows about it, had a positive effect. It’s a good reminder that even when I’m unable to work toward bigger goals, dance is still worthwhile spending money on. It’s an investment in my good health!

On that note, I need to go to bed and knock this sucker out for good. Good night!


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