Too much Stress & A Headache ranking in my all time top 3.

I have been feeling somewhat better, on and off.  So we have thought the medication has been working.

However, I’ve been under a huge amount of stress, not just my illness…so much more. I could probably do a bullet list, but I’ll share one big one.  (Please if you are sensitive to pet issues, do not read this.  Or if you do, please know ahead of time, it has a happy ending – as much as it can be for a very, very old dog.  But she’s happy and fine, don’t worry.)

Last Saturday, we decided to go for a ride, just get me out of the house.  It was a lovely ride.  We had a nice lunch outside, and came home.  We weren’t gone over 2 hours.  When we got home, our dog got very excited, as usual.  You know how dogs can get.  It’s precious.  Unfortunately, Sandy is a small dog and has a collapsed trachea.  It’s common in toy breeds, but Sandy’s about 22lbs, so not that small.  However, she has it none the less.  When she gets excited, she breathes fast, this causes her trachea to close, literally choking her.  She started to cough.  We tried to calm her.  She staggered while coughing to her pad to pee.  She fell down.  Went rigid, threw her head back and yelped a few times…she was seizing.  Then she stopped, everything.  She stopped breathing.  I started to breathe for her.  She didn’t start breathing on her own.  She voided her bowels.  We really thought we’d lost her.  I couldn’t find a pulse, but that’s really hard for me to do anyway.  So I started CPR.  After about 5 -6 rounds, she stuck her tongue out and licked, took a deep breath, and started to groggily move her head.  She came back to us.  We took her to the Emergency Vet.  But now we have to try to keep her calm.  She can still show she’s happy, but no running, so jumping, not getting overly excited.  I feel like we are being forced to take a little bit of her personality away.  But she is 19, and she still seems happy.  The vet says she’s in no pain, and she shows so much love.  We do have a huge problem with incontinence, and realize we will have to replace all the carpet in the house at some point.  But for now.  We have our lover dog.  She has bladder cancer (but they can’t even feel the tumor), Alzheimer’s, cataracts,  hearing impairment, and well she’s just plain old.  But she’s happy, she loves us, and she is in no pain.  So for now, all is good.

Our Sandy Dog.

However, a big stressor!  And this isn’t the only one!

The more stress I have, the more I can feel my symptoms increase.  I’ve never been a big believer when doctors say,”you’re just under too much stress”.  I’ve often felt that was a cop-out.  And sometimes I still think it is, after all. life is stress.  There is no way around it.  But recently, I’ve had more than my share I think.  Way too many tears have been shed, and I’ve been way too tense over situations I have no control over.

I can’t help but wonder if what happened on Thursday had anything to do with the culmination of stress I’ve been under.  On Wednesday night I couldn’t lie down to sleep without having a very bad headache, so I attempted to sleep sitting up.  Not the easiest thing to do.  Needless to say, it was a fitful night.  I woke in the morning, still needing more sleep, but feeling pretty decent.  I decided to travel downstairs and surprise Stuart by making some rolls for breakfast.   Just a mix, nothing fancy.  However, I never made this mix before, and it was the most annoying thing.  It may as well have said, we give you the gluten-free flour, you provide the rest.  Then it said to roll out gluten-free dough!  What?  If you’ve ever worked with GF dough you know you get a very sticky mess, try to roll it out, and you get a glob on your rolling-pin.  I knew this and tried different things.  I have a short temper these days, I get very irritated easily, and then cry.  So I decided to just spoon the stuff in muffin cups and bake it, if it tasted cinnamony, then we had a success….I did not care what it looked like.  That was a very good thing.  They were very ugly, but okay.  Not a mix I’ll buy again, and very glad it was not expensive!  But a nice surprise.

Then I took it upstairs to Stuart, still asleep. As I was climbing the stairs my headache began to get worse.  Bu I was so proud of my ugly cinnamon muffin thing.  I crawled in bed and laid the muffin thing beside Stuart and he woke up with a big smile.  He loves cinnamon.  He looked at me, “You made this?”  I smiled.   “Wow”  I felt good, and proud…and then the headache got worse.  I took something, and Stuart went to make more for breakfast.  He came back, I ate, and took pain and nausea meds.  I took migraine meds.  I’d already taken the medication for the pressure.  The headache climbed rapidly soon I couldn’t focus, I was gagging but nothing was coming up.  I had ice packs on my head.  My headache had risen to a category 10 – go to the ER.  But I couldn’t go.  I just couldn’t.

Severe headache with ice on my head. 3/22/2012

It scared me so much the thought of strange doctors treating me.  With everything that’s going on and my confusion…I just couldn’t think clearly, I couldn’t go.  NO.  I was screaming from the pain, and the fear.  It took over 2 hours to get the pain level down to a tolerable level.  During this time I was panicking, feeling claustrophobic, confused, paranoid….ect.  It was a horrifying afternoon.  My head hurt so much for the rest of the day.  But as long as we can get it to a category 8 or under I can handle it.  Truthfully, I’d rather take the medication I have at home, and not go to the ER and have them give me other medications which I am not familiar with.  Who knows what side effects they may cause.  So many pain medications make me throw up.  I just don’t want to go through it.  And I do not want anyone to ever accuse me of drug seeking.

So, we’ve been playing tag with Dr. Gray for a few days.  We’ll get in touch soon I’m sure.  The headaches are better today.  But still constantly never under a 5.  The medication is working to a certain degree.  The side effects, are not comfortable.  I think we need to figure something out.  Unfortunately, there are only 2 medications to treat this disorder.  If they don’t work you get a shunt.  That’s it.  It’s a rare, not a lot of research money spent on it.  I hate being on this part of the journey…wait and see.  Increase the dose.  Add this drug, adjust this amount…ect….wait and see.  Dang it all, I want to feel better.  Remember when you were little you got sick, you went to the doctor and they gave you some medicine and you felt better. Why isn’t it that easy any more?


10 thoughts on “Too much Stress & A Headache ranking in my all time top 3.

  1. Wendy! The evening with your dog sounds frightening, and I’m glad she is okay. I didn’t know dogs could get Alzheimers, even at age 19. Good thing you knew how to do CPR on a doggie.

    “Stress”. I hate it, but everybody deals with it…so why does it make us so sick? These headaches of yours sounds horrible….and you look like you are suffering terribly in that picture! Poor Wendy.

    I agree with you on the ER…I only go when I absolutely have no other choice.
    Please feel better!



    1. Thank you mo! Yes, this is the second seizure Sandy has had, but this one was worse. When she was diagnosed with the collapsed trachea I made sure I learned doggie CPR, in case I ever had to help her breathe. It’s very strange at times like that. I feel none of my pain. I’m very calm, focused, and down to business. Stuart is always amazed at how I handle a crisis. Put me in a crisis, and I’m the one who takes charge and gets things done. Then when it’s over and I can think about it, I will collapse and freak out a bit. But during a crisis, I’m sharp and prepared to get it done! But I do think it’s strange I feel none of my symptoms during it. Now right after it stopped, I had explosive diarrhea, it was horrible, had to wait to leave to go to the emergency vet because I couldn’t get out of the bathroom.

      And yes, I was miserable. I had planned for that to be a picture beside a good day picture, showing the vast differences in this disorder. how one day can be so good, and one day can be so bad….but then I thought…I’ll use it for the day it was taken.

      thank you for thinking of me. wendy


  2. I remember when all I got were boo-boos. Clean the area, apply bandage, go back and play. Or listen to the Mary Poppins song about a spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down.

    Too bad you can’t take pills to up your adrenaline level without adding more stress to your body. You sound like the stories of people lifting cars, in the moment, they are able to do incredible feats while staying focused. Such scary, stressful times.

    Who’s your friend in the picture with you?

    Give Sandy some cuddles and some love for me.


    1. I do wish I could stay that focused, that calm, and feel that good without having to have some drastic thing occur. Oh well, at least I’m good in a crisis and don’t fall apart. Stuart, as good as he is with most things, in a real crisis that concerns someone he loves, he freaks, or freezes. I have to take control It’s kind of odd, our roles reverse for just that short amount of time.

      My dear friend in the picture with me is Monkey, Monkey, Monkey…yes that is his real name on his birth certificate from Build A Bear! And you should say it very fast. But usually I just call him Monkey. I confess, I sleep with a stuffed Monkey – and normally a 6’tall man, a 22 lb dog, and a 17 lb cat. Good thing we have a King size bed. : )

      Sandy has been getting lots of extra cuddles, but I will be sure to tell her some of them have been sent from you.

      (oh, BTW and the photo wasn’t staged, I really did look like that for quite a while. That’s ice on my head – just an FYI)

      Thanks for caring.
      it means a lot to know people care.


  3. Oh your poor puppy! And what a sweet looking dog.
    You, on the other hand, looked miserable. 😦 😦
    I know what you mean. No matter how you feel, when it’s a crisis you do what you have to do–almost like your consciousness is elsewhere–and collapse later.
    I hope you are having a decent day today. 🙂


    1. Thank you Rita.
      Sandy is a very sweet dog, and just think 19!!! thats 100 in doggy years for her size. She’s amazing. They call her wonder dog at the vet.
      I was miserable. I promise I don’t look like that all the time. But the photo wasn’t staged. I was in intense pain.

      I really wish I could get that feeling I get when I’m in a crisis all the time. I’m calm, in control, I don’t hurt, I’m not dizzy, my body is listening to me….how can that be?
      Then just as quick as I got the ability, it leaves when the crisis is over. And I’m worse for it. It’s just strange.
      But I’m glad I’m good in a crisis and can take care of a situation should it arise.

      Decent day. Headaches are still giving me a fit, but down to between a category 5 and 7, keep them below and 8 and I can tolerate it.
      I’ll see the headache specialist next week.

      Thank you for the good wishes and caring. Oh BTW….I’ve been loving your new socks…just thought of them for some reason!


  4. Glad to hear that your dog was okay — doggie cpr is a good thing! It’s hard when a dog gets older; there are some many things that can go “wrong;” but if not in pain, then at least there is come comfort for you, Stuart, and your canine companion!
    So sorry that your headaches are that bad. I know the feeling of a grade 10 migraine and it is so incredibly over-powering! The whole world comes to a crashing, wanting to bang your head against a wall, never-ending minutes of pain.
    I only go to the ER if I’ve had the migraine for so long, and been so nauseous, I can’t keep my regular meds down. Then I know I have to go because I can get very disorientated, “see” things when I close my eyes, etc.
    My childhood memories are of ashma (spelling) after a cold, upset stomaches, sinus problems and headaches. Various home-grown remedies (spelling): gingerale and orange juice, childhood aspirin crushed up and mixed with a spoonful of jelly, and this horrible, cherry-flavoured medicine from the doctor. Think that’s why cherry is my least favourite flavour!
    Hope that you can get things in balance (somehow) and start feeling better again.


    1. yes, about Sandy. she really is doing great, considering. I keep asking the vet to make sure. We aren’t keeping her here just for us are we? She’s not in pain right? The Alzheimer’s meds are still working. She’s still happy. She assures us, she’s still a very happy dog. As active as she can be. Good muscle tone. Recognizes us, and loves them. The meds are still working. Can’t feel the mass in her bladder, no blood in her urine. She doesn’t show any signs of pain. she’s just a bit old, so eye sight and hearing a not the best. And the collapsed trachea we’ve been dealing with for years. Long before she got old. So he’s a great dog. I think one reason she does so well is because we are here almost all the time, it helps with the Alzheimer’s.

      Oh I see things all the time now, so I wouldn’t know the difference. When I had this headache at one point I got really freaked out and scared because I couldn’t hear. For how long now have I not been able to hear? I thought I just lost my hearing all of a sudden. Strange. I have weird shit going on. But it’s just in my head.

      I’m a bit better.
      but my headaches need to be better.
      I’m having category 5-7 headaches. (I know some people would call them higher but when you’ve had migraines since you were 11, the number classification changes.) : )
      Luckily, my headache doc understands this.

      I hope you never had another cat. 10 headache.


  5. FOR ONCE, I was not my rebel self and did skip over the you-know-what-parts and I did listen to you. Being one of the most stubborn people I know (yes, I admit it) it was no easy feat. But, reading the rest of it, your pain and headaches made me just as sad. I wish there was something I COULD do to help. Are there any doctors in NYC that you have researched that specialize in this? (I know, I know, road trip JK) Here’s to wishing you pain-free days and give your dog an extra hug or two from his Aunt Laurie. Please feel better. Laurie


    1. I’m glad you skipped the Sandy part, all you have to know is we had a scare, and she’s fine now.

      About specialist and my condition, I’ve researched it and Dr. Gray is the name I keep coming up with for the authority on everything pertaining to CSF. So, I think I’m seeing the best.
      But that doesn’t mean I won’t go and checked else where at some point. Stuart has talked about taking me to the Mayo Clinic in Pheonix (I think that’s where he said) it’s not far from Tucson where his family lives. so if things don’t start falling into place, or if I start feeling like I’m not being taken care of, we’ll do something.
      There is a fine line there though. I know this disorder and the meds can make me a bit paranoid, and confused, so my judgement is impaired. (not good when making medical decisions huh?)

      Knowing people care and are thinking of me does help.
      and PLEASE KNOW I’M NOT IN THAT MUCH PAIN EVER DAY. Yes my headache rarely goes below a category 6 and never below a 5. But those I can handle really. It’s the 8 and above that are just hard to take. However, I have an appt at the pain center next week with the headache pain specialist. So another step in the right direction.

      I’ll give Sandy an extra hug!
      She sees the vet tomorrow.

      thinking of you.


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