Dynamite Headaches

I have talked extensively about blasting rock and handling explosives (or mishandling as the case may have been).

As I’ve said before, my days in the blasting game came early in my life, mostly before I was 30 years old which was up until the early 1980’s. Most of what I learned about blasting rock was from Cecil Lewis or Burnet, Texas blasting legend LJ Henderson. Of course trial and error and being self taught was where I learned the most I suppose.

Since there wasn’t a school to actually go to learn the trade, you start out loading a shot with a little bit of explosives and then increase the amount you use until you get the right results without throwing rock all over the place. Of course there are guidelines that we would go by but given the various types and hardnesses of rock its a continual experiment.

Enough of all that. What would often happen to me when I refused to be patient after setting off a shot, I would want to get back to work too soon and wouldn’t let the air clear out of all the noxious fumes. Breathing those fumes usually lead to powerful headaches. Maybe not usually, how about always lead to a powerful headache that we called dynamite headaches for some reason.

Dynamite headaches are the most severe of pain, up there with migraines. To remedy these you could either wait it out, aspirin did no good, or if you would ingest a small amount of the dynamite the headaches would subside within minutes. So that’s what we would often do. Put a pinch between our cheek and gum or sometimes just swallow it.

I’m not sure what it did but it worked. I guess no different than taking a nitroglycerin pill.

Some of the old timers used to say “don’t chomp down on it, cause it may blow the teeth out of your head“. So not being a risk taker, I swallowed it or let it slowly dissolve in my mouth. I figured I needed my teeth.

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