My Story – A trip to the Hospital – Migraine Awareness Month

We all have our story, this weekend I added to mine.

I’d like to give you a little bit of background on my headache story. Two months before I turned eleven I had my first period, and my first migraine. It was labled a “menstrual headache” and I was told most girls got them. On my 11th birthday we were going to the lake to go swimming and I was hit with a nagging headache, this headache never went away. I was labeled with allergies and sinus headaches. These labels stuck for many, many years. Now my migraines have progressed to the chronic level, I have a migraine over 20 days a month, and it seems they are becoming intractable. The medications I used to use are not longer working, and I’ve tried many alternative treatments. My daily headache is never below a 3. I also have cluster headaches that normally show themselves in the Spring and Fall, but sometimes more often. I haven’t found any treatments for the daily or cluster headaches. Most days I haven’t giving up hope, but I must admit that some days I feel like I can’t go one. That is my history in a nutshell, now for the story of the weekend.

Today is the 54th day of a running migraine. There has been no relief. The pain has been variable anywhere from a 6 to a 10+ (there have been times the pain has been greater than I could imagine).. No medication has helped to relive my symptoms which include much more than pain. When most people think of a migraine they only think of the pain, but it is so much more than that, I experience numbness on the right side of my face, sometimes traveling down my arm, my face sometimes droops, my vision blurs and will double and dim to the point I can’t see, I have extreme light sensitivity, and sensitivity to smells and sounds,, I experience dizziness and vertigo that varies in intensity, and extreme nausea….these are just a sample of the added symptoms that I can experience during at migraine, others can experience different symptoms. Migraines are so much more than a headache they can even occur without any pain at all.

At present my neurologist is out the the country. I messaged her office last week and told them my situation and they suggested I go the the Emergency Department to get a “Migraine Cocktail” and some hydration. I voiced my concern about the torture that an emergency department can put me through, the bright lights, the smells, the noise, the wait….but I was assured if I called and reserved a time to come in I wouldn’t have to wait long. We did call and set up a time of 4:30pm on Thursday, I arrived 10 minutes early and was triaged right away, then I waited SIX hours before I was seen. I realize I was low on the triage list, and they had a number of emergencies but sitting there in extreme pain was absolute torture. I almost went home. I had a seizure in the waiting room and no one paid any attention. I do have to put in there that we were in a quiet waiting room with dim lights because of my light sensitivity, but after they were informed, someone came and took my vitals, but no one else came. I decided it was time to leave. Stuart went to tell them we were leaving and at that time they realized how long we had been waiting, and they got me to the top of the list.

After I was taken to a room I was surrounded by extremely nice nurses and doctors immediately. They made a plan and had medication going withing just less than an hour. The doctor told me they had to start on the first cocktail, but he didn’t think it would work on me, because he had a feeling I was a tough case. He said after that they would do a second cocktail and if that didn’t work they would admit me and there were all kinds of things they could do then. Neither of the first two cocktails worked, although the second one did help me sleep. I was admitted, after many hours of waiting for a room

I was started on a new cocktail that was very much like one that I had in the ED, but they wanted to add Imitrex (sumatriptan), I refused this medication because it causes me to have tachycardia. I soon saw the neurologist and he put me on a cocktail of DHE, Toradol, Depakote, and Magnesium every 8 hours for 24 hours. He then told me that if it did not work he could do no more and I would be sent home to suffer there instead of suffering in the hospital.

The cocktail knocked it down to a moderate level, until they stopped it. After they stopped it a new nurse came on duty who had a scent that triggered me. My migraine shot up and I was terribly sick. It did not come down, and I was sent home “to suffer”.

Today I woke up in intense pain that continued to build, within an hour it was so excruciating it was beyond what I could imagine a migraine could be. I was not sure if the pain would diminish. If it hadn’t I would not have been able to carry on. I had to admit my thought have gone there, but migraine can kill. All I can hear in my head is, “You can suffer at home”

My doctor is the only headache specialist in this area. According to the American Headache Society currently only 416 specialist are certified by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) to treat an estimated 36 million migraine sufferers over age 12 in the United States. I’m lucky to be able to see one, but when she is unavailable it is very difficult. She will be back in the office on the 12th, however she has jury duty the first week of July, I don’t have an appointment until July 26th. The doctor I saw in the hospital said he was going to talk to her office to see he could get me and appointment earlier. I doubt that will happen.

There is a headache clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. If my doctor can’t help me I’m considering going to the clinic for an evaluation It is 110 miles away. Does anyone have thoughts on this? I’ve heard some conflicting results from friends about their experiences with Mayo, I’d like to know if anyone has any thoughts.

This is Migraine Awareness month therefore, I’ll leave you with a few facts about migraine.

  • Migraine is the 6th most disabling illness in the world
  • Migraine often runs in families.
  • Migraine if often misdiagnosed as tension or sinus headaches.
  • Migraine also affects children.
  • Pain does not have to be present during a migraine.
  • More than 4 million adults experience chronic migraine with over 15 migraines per month.

If you know someone with migraine, be gentle, try to understand, Sometimes it can change you. It can steal your life. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to spend time with you, often it means they can’t. They still love you. Love them.

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Migraines Suck

Warning: this post may contain whining, feeling sorry for myself, and just plain complaining, but most of it is simply the way things are right now….it sucks, I accept that, but no I don’t like it and I wish it were different.

The last two weeks I have experienced some of the worst symptoms I can recall in many years. I woke up one day a couple of weeks ago now, feeling pain creeping up the left side of my head, it felt like my brain was hurting, inside my skull, my brain was being squeezed. It started on the left side and crept up over my head until it covered my whole brain, I could not help but cry out. I woke Stuart and he could only hold me. The intense feeling of motion, the pressure in my skull, the extreme nausea…it was horrible. Finally it eased to the point that I was able to simply pass out. Then it came back! This happened three more times. I decided sleep was not going to help, so I got up. It continued to happen throughout the day, no matter how much medication I took. Nothing worked. That was the beginning of my walk deeper into hell.

I’ve barely been out of the dark, the light sensitivity has been more intense than I’ve ever experienced it. Often I have not been able to get out of the dark at all. For days on end I couldn’t look at my phone or computer. I’ve been having the feeling of intense movement all day, with visual vertigo on and off. My vision will tilt, double, and is constantly blurry. For 2 solid days I could not focus enough to see much of anything, I just sat in my chair curled up in a ball, with sun glasses on, a towel on my head to further help block out light, an ice pack on top of that, staring at the TV watching shows that I’d seen over and over, just so I knew what was going on, since I couldn’t really focus enough to read the captions and often couldn’t even see what was going on at all. It’s bad enough to be in severe pain and dizzy, but to be forced to have nothing to distract you from that is torture. I tried to meditate, I tried to make up stories in my head, I tried to think of nice places, nothing worked. I was trapped sitting in a chair with my pain, confusion, and vertigo with nothing to help relieve it. I knew at that moment, if I had to live like this forever, I wanted to die.

I continue to fight this. My baseline headache never gets below a 5 now (I have daily headache all the time that normally hovers around a 3 or a 4). Every day the pain gets to at least an 8 for a few hours, and will spike to a 10 on and off. I continue to have all the other symptoms, sometimes they are worse than others, but they are always there. The nasal spray (Zomig) she gave me to try did not work. It’s kind of obvious that triptans have stopped working for some reason. I believe my head has gone crazy because it has gotten no relief. Normally I do get some relief from triptans, so the nerves have some time to reset, a little at least. (my 10 precious days a month when I can take meds gave me a few hours) Now there has been no relief so the nerves are constantly firing and just going crazy. My neurological and vestibular system are on over drive, what is triggering me this much, I have no idea, all I know is that my head is a mess, and I’m miserable.

Now my doctor is out of the country until June 12th, and she has jury duty the first week of July, so she had to reschedule my appointment to July 26th. I admit when I heard this I had a complete break down. I sobbed and sobbed, which of course caused more pain…ugh. But them I thought, I’ve lived with this for so long, a couple more months will not kill me, and I can go to the ER if I absolutely have to. I must admit though, I’m afraid to go to the ER, they treat migraine patients like drug seekers or fakers, the bright lights and noise there is torture, the stress of waiting hours….it makes me worse before they make it better. It’s so scary.

The good news is, her office did get the sphenopaltine ganglion block approved, so I will be getting that when I see her. It’s very interesting, she will actually be teaching me how to do it so I can do it at home. They are also working to get the Migranal approved, it is the Dihydroergotamine (DHE) in nasal spray. I have DHE injectables at home. I haven’t used it because you can’t use it in the same day that you use a triptan, and I had gone over the amount of days I can take meds for the month. When I’ve had intractable migraines in the past, not with the extreme symptoms I’ve been having lately, my previous doctor prescribed a DHE protocol of having 3 shots a day for 3 days to try to knock it out. We are going to start that today. Hopefully I’ll get some relief.

This has taken me two days to write and I’m sure it doesn’t read quite right because my brain is mush, and I know there are things I’ve left out, but I really tried. I even put in a couple of links. Woot!



Me, Me, and More Me

New Haircut Today! New Glasses last week.
You can see the back.
Before.
my before glasses and how my hair has been worn on a day to day basis for many years.

Today I got my haircut!

My appointment was a 9am. I normally wake up between 8:30 and 9am, to insure I was awake for my appointment I had to get up when Stuart left for work at 6:30am. He was very kind and went in 30 minutes later than normal so I could sleep in. hahaha 1st accomplishment – I got up early. I got ready, took silly pictures of me and drove to my appointment. 2nd accomplishment – I drove! The appointment took over an hour, during which a migraine started that hit an 8, I thought I was going to throw up and had a hard time staying up right, but I carried on and I’m fairly certain my stylist never knew how badly I was hurting. She did know I had a headache, but she didn’t know I felt like spewing chunks on her station.
3rd accomplishment – I made it through the appointment. When I left I sat in my car with the air on full blast, texted a friend and drank lots of water until I felt it safe to drive the 2 miles home. (It really would have sucked if I would have needed to call Stuart to come get me) 4th accomplishment – I made sure I was safe. I gave myself permission to spend the rest of the day resting and taking care of myself. I will be doing my breathing and strengthening exercises before sleeping tonight. That will be number 5 and closes out my accomplishments for the day.

I feel like I’m having a one sided conversation with you, my friends, I wish I could sit and have a cup of tea with each of you and learn more about you. This may be the last of my daily musings, I’ll be back in a week or two, or when something exciting happens, until then I’ll be around with a little this and a little of that, until then love yourself. xoxo

This, That, and The Other

In just 8 days since I started writing these journal posts I’ve made some observations. The antidepressant is working, and I’m very glad I took the chance and tried it. I’m in a much better place mentally. On the other hand, I do not see a great improvement from the Emgality, I hope I’m wrong, but as of right now my migraines aren’t better and I’m having an increase in vestibular migraines. Finally, I can see that I get a lot more done than I thought I did, and by paying attention to what I’m doing encourages me to do even more. I may not continue to write these journal entries publicly, (let’s face it, who really wants to read my day to day activites?) but I think I will continue to keep a private journal, I can really see how useful it can be.

More thoughts about my migraines I’ve noticed over the past month or so I wake up with relatively no pain, this has changed since starting Emgality, I used to wake up with a migraine almost every day; however, within a couple of hours a migraine will normally start. There were a few days last month that this didn’t happen, but for the most part, I could set my watch to it. This past week I’ve had 3 vestibular migraines, (a vestibular migraine causes dizziness and vertigo with or without pain) each one has been accompanied with severe pain and confusion. These are not new, but they do seem to be coming more often, and are more intense. Things to talk about with my doctor.

Cactus Flowering Tucson, AZ W. Holcombe

Yesterday I finally spent some time outside. I have 3 types of exercises from my new therapist, breathing, hip stability, and functional. While I was outside I laid down by the pool and focused on my breathing exercises. It was so nice, I finally felt things said I should feel! Exciting! I got all of my exercises done, not all at once, but I got them all done. So, I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot done yesterday, but I accomplished exactly what I wanted to, I went outside, and I did my exercises. The rest of the day I didn’t feel well and didn’t feel like doing much of anything, then right before I fell asleep I had a migraine hit that was excruciating. I thought a cluster was starting it was so intense, but it didn’t quite hit that magnitude. However, the pain was behind my eye and in my temple, my eye watered and right nostril ran, just like when I have a cluster. I had to move because the pain was so intense. So, I’m not positive it was not a cluster, but if it was, it wasn’t quite as painful as ones I’ve had in the past; not to say this was not severely painful. (for me a cluster is the greatest pain I can imagine, the pain I had last night would have sent me to the ER if it had lasted longer, but it was not the worst pain imaginable.)

Quick rundown of today. I ate breakfast outside. I took a bath and washed my hair. (this is a big task for me) I had a dentist appointment (check up, cleaning, fixed a small chip in a filling, and a fluoride treatment), went to Trader Joe’s, had dinner at the table with my husband, made “brownies” (hopefully I’ll sleep better tonight), and watched old Dr. Who’s for a bit. I did have a migraine that started shortly after breakfast but it didn’t get above a 6 all day so I was able to function. I used my functional exercises while making brownies and my back hurt less, but it did start to hurt more after I finished. I’m just thrilled I was able to get them all mixed up and in the pan without being in intense pain. Today was a FULL DAY! Tomorrow is an early day, so I’m going to bed.

Short day

The day started out okay. I could have slept longer but Kiki decided it was time to play, and who can argue with that face?

Kiki

It was a normal morning, I had my breakfast, took my meds and thought about what I could accomplish today. I only had 3 things I wanted to get done 1- spend some time outside, 2- fill out insurance information for cochlear implant replacement, 3- do my new exercises.

Out of the 3 the exercises were the most important, so I decided to do that first. Then I looked down at the floor and thought, “There is no way I’m getting on that dirty carpet and have my allergies go crazy again, I’ll vacuum it first.” So, I picked up everything on the floor, moved things around, pulled out the vacuum and vacuumed our small living room. It was going well, then right before I finished I had a shooting pain through my head, the room spun and got dark, I had a hot flush, got nauseous, and had to sit down fast. Another vestibular migraine.

The pain lessened in intensity in a relatively short period of time, but I’ve had continuous other symptoms throughout the day. I feel awful and can’t trust my balance at all, so I basically spent the day curled up in my chair watching Netflix (I saw a talk by Brene’ Brown and an episode of Queer Eye) then I watched cooking shows (which made me want to bake bread and make my own crackers.) Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with The Great British Bake Off? I watch it over and over, can’t wait for a new season to come to the US. Oh, it’s called The Great British Baking Show in the US if anyone is interested.

Now I’m off to bed, having only accomplished, let’s see, nothing on my list for today; and that’s perfectly okay. I got the living room vacuumed!

I do believe the new antidepressant must be working, 2 weeks ago having a day like today would have made me feel worthless, useless, and filled with dread. Today I can take it for what it is, life at this moment. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess it was a good day after all.

Weekend Warrior

One of the last of the wildflowers 2019 Tucson – W Holcombe

I missed writing yesterday, it was such a full day I just didn’t get it in.

Before my painting class with my niece I decided to take a Maxalt, and a couple of toradol with a little caffeine to see if I could get this migraine to a level where I could not only be present for the day, but also enjoy it a little. The pain did get to a more tolerable level, and after an hour I took the 2nd dose of Maxalt (if the pain doesn’t subside with a first dose you are supposed to take a second, I normally don’t because I don’t want to run out of my medication too soon, but on special days I will), after the second dose the pain was reduced more! Yay. The class was fun. I was sad because I cannot understand most of what my niece says, she speaks very quietly most of the time and does not move her mouth much at all. I’d love to be the aunt she could whisper too and tell secrets, but I can’t hear most of what she says. It makes me so sad. It did bother me that I did not get a thank you at the end of the day, I wasn’t surprised, that saddens me too. I do think she had a good time, though.

After our painting class we went out for pizza with the family. It’s always a mixture of emotions when I spend time with Stuart’s family. I like the feeling of family, but it can be a bit too much for me all at one time, and Stuart’s sister is very boisterous. I can only take her in small doses. We had to go back over to their house for some things after lunch so my time with her was close to hitting it’s limit before we left, and I was starting to have more pain.

When we left I was still feeling pretty good though and decided I did not want to waste it. I knew I might be pushing it a bit too much, but it’s a good chance that the next day could bring increased pain no matter what I do, so when I’m able, I’m taking advantage of it. I found out about this little clothing store that carries a style of clothing that I like so we went to check it out. Funny thing, I got 2 dresses, and neither one of them are in the style that I went there looking for. ha!

After that we were both bushed, but we wanted a treat so we got frozen yogurt before we went home and spent the evening watching baking shows and old Dr. Who’s.

Today I woke up feeling pretty good. Ate breakfast, picked up a few things around the house, then set out in the backyard to poopy scoop, something I haven’t done in a very long time and I’ve been feeling very guilty about it. I walked out and saw that the little rake and pan that I use to do it had been moved. “Oh no, my landlord felt the need to pick up my dog’s poop!” I felt so ashamed. I told Stuart and he said he wouldn’t feel bad if someone did that he’d just thank them. Ugh! I thought well no wonder stuff just accumulates on the porch and things are not put away….he feels no shame about things. Our back porch looks awful, he should be ashamed. So I told him so! Then I went out there and cleaned up the back porch! I moved and rearranged plastic totes (they are empty), I swept down the cob webs, I swept off all the totes and pool floats, I swept the porch (boy was there a lot of little mesquite leaves on there!), I wiped down the grill, and I got Stuart to get rid of the 2 cardboard boxed that were back there. Now my back porch looks all clean and organized, and we look like we take pride in our home. I am absolutely amazed at how much I can do when I’m mad! The amazing thing is, I could sweep like that and it didn’t hurt my back much at all, but have me stand at the kitchen counter and try to bake or cut up veggies and it hurts so bad it brings me to my knees.
(Yes, I know the whole thing about feeling shame sounded snarky, I felt snarky at the time. I shouldn’t have gotten mad. I know a lot of my anger actually came from feeling that I can’t do my share to help keep up the house and the yard. Stuart and I talked about it, and he says he understands, I think he does, and I still think he needs to feel a little shame now and then. lol)

After all that adrenaline flew out of my body I fell into a heap in my chair and crashed. Then after about an hour I started seeing the world vibrating and going dim, I suddenly felt high but I hadn’t done anything to cause it, then the pain hit; a vestibular migraine had started. It wasn’t quite lunch time when I curled up ready for the end of the day.

I had a very full weekend, I got a lot of things done and had some fun, now for some sleep.

May 3rd Journal Day – wiped out

Tucson AZ Spring 2019 – W. Holcombe

After the long day I had yesterday I was not surprised when I woke to find my symptoms had increased today.

My migraine pain fluctuated throughout the day between a 6 and a 9. The cognitive issues and fatigue increased. I’m so grateful I can get medical marijuana, it’s the only thing that is helping my pain right now. It’s far from perfect, for a number of reasons, but if I hadn’t had it today there’s a strong possibility I would have gone to the ER for help.

Since I’ve started keeping this journal, (yes all three days..lol..) each time I do one little thing I take a mental note of it so I can make sure to write about it. Because of that, I now have a list of my little victories for the day:

  • I picked up some dishes left in the livingroom and put them in the kitchen, started to put them in the dishwasher but, found I could only fit one in so I started the dishwasher.
  • I picked up a few things left sitting around the livingroom and put them away.
  • I emailed back and forth with my Advanced Bionics consumer specialist about my cochlear implant processors dying. Proud of myself for taking care if this without Stuart.
  • I fed my dog and gave her fresh water. (This requires bending over which is very hard for me today. Kiki would have waited for Stuart, but she would not have been a happy pup)
  • I started prepping for dinner. I cut the meat into bite size pieces, cut up the leaks, made the marinade, and put it all together. I even put all the stuff away and cleaned the knife and cutting board. (Stuart did the rest of the meal)
  • I brushed my hair. I brushed my teeth. I washed my face. I moisturized. I took my medication correctly all day.

There’s a number of things I didn’t get done, like get dressed, but that was so not important today.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to a painting class with my niece. I’m trying not to worry that I’ll have a severe migraine. I am determined to do this with her. I missed her birthday party, and this class was my gift to her. (She wanted to do something artsy with Aunt Wendy) I don’t normally feel like I have to push myself through no matter what, but I dont want to disappoint this child.

Please remember when reading this journal entry my cognitive abilities are a bit dulled right now. Also, This is the first time I’ve posted from my phone, I works.

Journal Days of May

from my walk on Sunday – Prickly Pear in bloom

This month I’m going to do something very different, I’m going to try to keep a running journal of the month, so you might get a bit tired of me.

The idea behind this is two fold, I want to pay attention to my moods, and really see how this new antidepressant is working; and I also want to have a goal of accomplishing at least one thing a day, no matter how small that one thing is.

I’ve been feeling pretty low lately about how little I’ve been able to accomplish because of my pain, I want to prove to myself that I am more than my pain and accomplishments come in all sizes and all should be celebrated. I’m hoping by committing to posting about this on a regular basis I will force myself to stop thinking of the things I can’t do and pay attention to the things I can.

Today I woke with the continuation of a migraine from yesterday, that continued from the day before. I had an appointment with my therapist at 11am so I took a Maxalt and drank a little caffeine hoping it would take the edge off and make the day more bearable, unfortunately, it didn’t. In the waiting room there was a lady sitting directly in front of me and one sitting beside me, they obviously new each other and were having a conversation in normal tones. I was struck by the fact that I could not understand more than the rare word here and there despite the fact that it was a very quiet room. Once again I wondered how I could meet people and socialize. When I left I planned to go by the grocery store to pick up a couple of things but the pain was so great I thought I would throw up before I made it home. I took a second Maxalt when I got home, but again, it simply did not work. I decided to message my doctor and ask if there is another rescue medication I can try as Maxalt seems to have stopped working. I am still hopeful that the Emgality will help, but I need something to get me through the moment.

Today I made it to my therapist appointment! I had a lovely mindful moment with my dog, and a few other mindful moments too. I attempted to do a Body Scan meditation, but I didn’t finish. I will try to do it again before I sleep tonight.

I’m trying hard to not focus on the fact that I can’t cook dinner tonight, or get the dishes out of the sink because my back and head hurt so damn bad. So I’m avoiding the kitchen.

Mini Update … I tried

I know you can normally find Mindfulness Monday here each week, I tried, but I haven’t been able to write much and I thought I’d explain why.  (it has taken me many days to write this post, so bare with me…mmmkay?)

You may recall that I had De Quervain’s tenosynovitis in my left wrist/thumb earlier this year (you can read about it here), but you may have missed that I now have it in my right wrist.  The left wrist was treated with a cortisone shot and since then I’ve had no problem.  I’ve had 2 cortisone injections in my right wrist and I’m still in pain.  (you can see pictures from the first injection here)  I had the second shot on my birthday (July 2nd) my wrist felt better the first day after the injection, but by the second day I was back to the original symptoms and by the 3rd day it was actually worse.   When I went in for the second injection he gave me the option of having surgery or trying the injection again, he told me that if it didn’t work to just call and schedule the surgery I didn’t even need to come in again.  So I chose to try the injection again, to say those injections are not pleasant is a huge understatement, but I was really hoping to avoid surgery.  After a week, when it was evident that the shot didn’t work, we called to set up the surgery and were told that it was too soon after the injection, I have to wait 4-6 weeks.  I was not a happy person.  I have a lot of limitations because of this issues; I can’t write or draw, I have extreme difficulty brushing my hair, typing, cooking, picking things up with my right hand, swimming…I’ve wearing a brace that holds my wrist and thumb stable, if I don’t wear the brace, I can’t do much at all…unfortunately the brace has started to cause issues on it’s own, 20180717_113113

so I have to stop wearing it.  The good news is that the surgery is almost always successful, and it’s very minimally invasive, in fact they often do it with local anesthesia.  (I will admit I’m a bit intimidated by that, I don’t want to see them cut on my arm…ewww, but I also hate going under general anesthesia, so we’ll see)   I was having a hard time accepting that fact that they were making me wait for the surgery, honestly I was pretty pissed; then I remembered that the way to happiness is acceptance.  I decided to look at the whole situation differently.  It’s only a few weeks difference, they aren’t saying I have to be stuck like this forever.  I stated taking extra supplements that are supposed to help with joint and inflammation issues, hopefully this will reduce the swelling and some pain.  (if you’re interested I’m taking extra turmeric, collagen, glucosamine..I think that’s all)  Even though I’ll still need surgery, if the swelling is down, it should help with recovery.  Accepting this situation made life a bit happier.

On another note, I’m having increased migraines, often with migraine associated vertigo, and cluster headaches.  When we first got here my head actually felt better, but that didn’t last long.  Bright lights are a big trigger for me and it’s really bright here, more than that, now it’s monsoon season so the barometric pressure has been all over the place with crazy storms almost every day, my head is definitely feeling it. 20180716_172608

I’m also having a lot more cluster headaches and I don’t have anything to help them.  I saw a new headache specialist about 3 weeks ago, I wrote about it here.  I felt optimistic after that visit, but I haven’t received the gammaCore that he prescribed, it was supposed to arrive in about 5 days.  We called to find out the status and no one called back, so we called again, and still no call back.  I know that the office was moving but that doesn’t excuse them from paying attention  to their patients.  **Update**  They called late yesterday and it seems that the doctor didn’t have us fill out a form that he should have, so it delayed everything.  The nurse who called said she’s fill it all out and we could sign it the next time we are there, so the gammaCore is now on it’s way!  I should receive it by the end of the week!  Thank goodness.  (the gammaCore treats both cluster headaches and migraines!  again, Thank Goodness!!

So that’s what’s been keeping me away….along with other stress, but that’s for a different day when I can actually type without being in intense pain.  Hunting and pecking with my left hand is not fun.  🙂

“Accept – then act.

Whatever the present moment contains,

Accept it as if you had chosen it.

Always work with it,

Not against it….

This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

 

Migraine Awareness Month, my migraine update

migraine awareness
I don’t know who to credit for this image, but it is so true I had to use it. If you know who I should credit, please let me know.

June has been Migraine Awareness Month.  I had planned to do a few posts about migraine, what it is, who gets it, how disabling it can be, new treatments….ect… unfortunately I’ve been having some severe migraines this month and simply haven’t been able to focus well enough to write and get all the facts straight.  It’s not just the pain of the migraine that has stopped me, it’s all the other symptoms that go with it, the fogginess, nausea, insomnia, sensitivity to light, sound and smells….I simply can’t concentrate or get things done.

New Migraine Doctor – On Tuesday I saw a new migraine specialist.  He’s with Banner Health/University of Arrizona’s neurology department.  First impression, he was pretty thorough, and seemed to know what he was doing, however, there were some things he said that I felt were just rude, but it may just be his sense of humor that I didn’t get.  For example, after we went through my history he looked at hubby and said, “Did you know she had all these issues before you married her?”  Then he laughed a little and said he was joking, but honestly that did not make me feel good at all.  But he did take the time to go over my records and listen.  At first I felt that he was going to be a butt, because when I told him all my different types of headaches (chronic migraine, vestibular migraine, cluster headaches, and Intracranial Hypertension), he said, “I don’t believe it”  He questioned if I could have Intracranial Hypertension on top of the rest.  I told him I had numerous lumbar punctures and that diagnosis came from Duke, he seemed to understand then that I really have been diagnosed with these things, they weren’t just speculation.  We went through a huge list of drugs I’ve tried and if they worked at all, and we discussed other treatments that haven’t worked (acupuncture, chiropractic, a ton of supplements….).  He finally said, “So, it sounds like nothing has worked” and I agreed.  (Oh, I was given a complete exam, testing all my reflexes, checking my optic nerve….he really was thorough)  He left the room for a moment and came back with a gammaCore.

gammacore
image courtesy of http://www.gammacore.com

Using the gammaCore – The gammaCore is a non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator.  It’s pretty darn cool actually.   Most of what I’m including next can be found on the gammaCore site, you can read more about it there if you’d like.  https://gammacore.com/

“gammaCore (nVNS) sends gentle, patented stimulation through the skin to activate the vagus nerve, providing relief from migraine and cluster headache pain in a different way than drugs.

  • The vagus nerve is an important highway of communication between your brain and many parts of the body
  • The vagus nerve plays an important role in regulating pain”

He gave me a demo and it was interesting.  You take this little device and put a gel on the electrodes then place it on your neck, right where you’d check someone’s pulse, you increase the signal until you get the results you are looking for (a twitch of your mouth or side of your face) you keep it there for 2 minutes and it cuts off by itself.  They say there’s a beep, but I can’t hear it, I just notice that it stopped, I don’t know why you’d need a beep to tell you that it stops, you can feel it.  People like to give sounds for all kinds of things that really don’t need them, in my opinion anyway.  After it stops on one side, you repeat it on the other side, and that’s it.  That’s a treatment.  If pain persist after 20 minutes, do it again.  After 2 hours, if you still have pain, or if it returns, repeat a treatment.

I will be receiving my gammaCore in the mail in a few days.  The first month is free, I don’t know how much it will cost after that.  When it was first approved earlier this year Stuart called to see if insurance would cover it and they weren’t there yet.  If it helps, I sure hope that insurance will cover at least part of it.   You are supposed to use it at the first sign of migraine pain, unfortunately I am NEVER without a headache, so I need to use it at the first sign that it’s getting bad.  I still don’t feel that the doctor understood that I have a headache ALL THE TIME.   I actually plan on using it as often as I can to see if I can get some lasting relief, maybe I’ll actually have a day without a migraine!  I am cautiously optimistic.  If it doesn’t work, I haven’t lost anything.  If it does work, I will have to decide if I can afford it.

One HUGE thing I hate about the gammaCore is that it’s disposable.  Why can’t they make it so you can charge it or change the battery or something, having to replace this device every month is so wasteful and bad for the environment.  I’m having a very hard time coming to terms with that.  I can only think that they do it this way so that people will have to buy a new one each month, that’s just a rip-off.  What am I supposed to do with all these used devices?  If nothing else, they need a recycling program.  (Yes, I will be suggesting this to them)

migraine-treatment
image credit https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/conditions/chronic-migraine/

Medical Marijuana – I also had an appointment on Wednesday to get approved for my medical marijuana card.  Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona and severe migraine is on the list of conditions that can be treated with it, so I decided to apply.  I should get my card in a couple of weeks.

Full disclosure here, I have been using marijuana to help me for a couple of years now, but I had to rely on what I could get on the street, I don’t know the strains, or anything like that, so results have varied.  Sometimes when the pain hits I can vape a little and it is gone, other times it just makes me feel funny, and other times it does nothing.  I’m hoping that getting it from a dispensary where I will be assured of quality and will know what strains and hybrids I’m getting, I will be able to medicate more successfully; more pain relief with less high feeling would be optimal. After I started using a little every night before I go to bed (I made brownies) my vertigo has been reduced drastically.  When I can’t get it, I have more vertigo again.  This is not an approved condition in Arizona (Meniere’s is an approved condition in some states), but it should be.  I can’t be 100% sure that it’s the marijuana that has helped my vertigo, but it would be some strange coincidence if it isn’t.  It even helps stop an attack….if I start to have a vertigo attack I will vape just a little and it will often stop it, even if it doesn’t stop the vertigo, it stops the vomiting.  I cannot stress how important that is.  The only reason I will go to the ER with all of this (vertigo or migraine) is if I’m also dehydrated.  Throwing up for hours on end will cause dehydration, I know that the marijuana has stopped me from going to the ER numerous times.  I’m so very grateful I have found some relief through medicinals.

As I navigate this new world of treatment, I will post more about it and give you lots of updates.  To learn more about how medical marijuana can help with migraines there’s a great article here: https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/conditions/chronic-migraine/

Now, it has taken me many hours to write this post, so I will close for now.  Hopefully my head will calm down soon and I will be able to write more often.  I would like to thank Lorraine for being so kind and helping me keep up my weekly Mindfulness Monday posts.  They mean a lot to me and it was really hurting me when I couldn’t post.  Thank you Lorraine, you are the best, I love you my friend!!

Have any of you tried the gammaCore?  If not, would you?

How about medical marijuana, have you tried it?  Did it help?

I’d really like to know your experiences.