I find it so hard to watch him suffer.
My name is Conny, I’m a mother of two young boys. My husband Peter suffers from chronic cluster headaches. The first time we heard of this was in 2007 when he had an excruciating headache. It was so bad he actually ended up beating his head against the wall.
We were lucky to find a doctor in the hospital who knew straight away what was wrong and recognised the bloodshot eye and pain on one side of the face as systems of a cluster headache. In hospital they gave Peter oxygen plus an injection and the pain disappeared almost immediately. We were so happy that they knew what was wrong and said to the doctors, “just give us the appropriate medication so that we get on with our lives”.
But the doctors warned that there is no known medication for these headaches, only pain management and that it could become more intense with each passing year. They advised to keep oxygen bottles at home and whenever an attack occurred for him to be ready to inject himself with Imitrex.
For almost 6 years Peter was without pain and we thought it was over until the beginning of 2014 when they came back with a vengeance. This time it was so terrible he thought of committing suicide. Several times I had to plead with him not to give up and persuade him to find another doctor who might have a solution.
I had to stay strong for all of us because if I didn’t there was no-one else but it was so difficult to see the pain my husband was in, every day. Some days he had 4 attacks and on others it can be as many as 14.
You see your children become frightened because their father yells and screams in pain.
He even cries out that he wants to die while bashing his head against anything he can find. It is then up to me to smile at the children, ask them to go and play in their rooms or outside while I stay with Dad.
Alone at night I sometimes cry for hours. Peter won’t come to bed before 5 in the morning but the next day I have to carry on as normal. We are now contemplating euthanasia because Peter suffers unbearably from these cluster headaches.
This is the hardest conversation we have ever had.