'The most exquisite terrifying pain a person can have'
EUGENE, Ore. - Cindy Reynolds has suffered cluster headaches since she was a teen.
"This came on out of the blue when I was 15 years old," she recalled. "Absolutely the most exquisite terrifying pain a person can have."
These aren't your typical "I'm going to pop a Tylenol and it'll all go away" headaches.
Cluster headaches are something different.
Miguel Estevez, a physical consultant with Oregon Neurology Associates, describes it as a burning pain that feels like its piercing the eye, sometimes last 3 hours.
"The pain is likened to being like the most pain a human being can experience," Estevez said. "From the point of view of severity of disease, some of these people commit suicide because of it."
Reynolds recently made her third trip to D.C. with Cluster Busters, a cluster headache advocate group, to speak with Congress about changing Medicare to cover the one medicine that helps cluster headaches: Oxygen.
Reynolds and other patients told lawmakers they need it to help their medical condition.
Estevez said oxygen is inexpensive and can help up to 70 percent of cluster headaches patients with their pain.
"Oxygen is really inexpensive, and 70 percent of people that have cluster headache can stop their cluster by just doing high flow oxygen," Estevez said.
That has been her experience, Reynolds said.
"I've been able to manage and a little better get into a different frame of mind," Reynolds said. "I can stop this attack within 3 to 7 minutes because I know what to do."