My dear, sweet husband is afflicted by cluster headaches, colloquially known as as "suicide headaches," because the pain is so great that some sufferers have actually committed suicide to escape it.
He started having them several years ago. They are called cluster headaches because sufferers will have one or more a day for a week or weeks, and then be symptom free for months or years. He hasn't had them in over a year. Previously, I just thought that they were migraines, and I didn't understand why my grown husband was crying and screaming in agony. After a little research, I found out that comparing a cluster headache to a migraine is about like comparing getting your leg amputated to a paper cut. That's not to say that migraines aren't awful - I'm sure they are- but these headaches that he experiences are sometimes described as the worst pain in the human experience. Women have said that it is worse than giving birth without anesthetic. I can't even imagine. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluster_headache). What's also awful is that it is so rare - less than one percent of the population has them - and clinics often think that he is just seeking narcotic pain pills (which he turns down every time- they do NOTHING to help the pain).
He normally has a high threshold for pain, but last night was one of the worst ones yet. He was almost convulsing, he was hurting so badly. It makes me feel so helpless. Bright light and sound makes it worse. Anyone's mere PRESENCE seems to make it worse. I took him to the ER and they had to dim the lights. Luckily, we live almost walking distance to a small hospital, and he was in and out in about an hour. They gave him oxygen (a known treatment for CH) and his relief was almost immediate. They also gave him an injection of Imitrex, the only drug known to help.
Anyway, he began feeling much better and so we went home. He fell asleep and slept soundly. I just know that he is more than likely going to be going through this hell again tonight. It's happened every night for a week (save the night before last). I wish we had an oxygen tank at home. It is so hard to see him suffering like this and there is not a damn thing that I can do about it. They last anywhere from an hour to three hours, usually late at night. He's exhausted. I'm exhausted. I told him that he needs to go back to the neurologist (it's been years), but honestly, I don't think they can do much more for him, other than prescribe him the imitrex.