Everyone we spoke to vividly remembers their worst cluster headache. Ten-year-old Jeff's sleepover became overrun with nightmares the first time he experienced this level of pain. "It was really embarrassing, but also terrifying, because I immediately thought I had a tumor or something," he says. John recalls a pain so intense that he thought it would kill him then and there. "I remember one attack that was so brutally severe that I kept seeing the word 'ANEURYSM' flashing in bright red letters in my mind. I honestly thought something in my brain was going to break and kill me."
This can't be said enough: Despite what the name suggests, these are not "headaches" as you think of them. Everyone has had headaches, and around a quarter of you have suffered from a migraine. We don't want to downplay those -- we refer to migraines as "prom headaches" because all we can do when they hit is sit at home and cry. But just as a migraine is not the same as a headache, clusters are not the same as migraines. "I've had migraines," Jeff says. "Those are very painful, but nothing like this."