A Midi-Me Update – Injections, Psych meds, Houses…Stress

Photo by Thomas Plets on Pexels.com

A little bit of a catch-up as to what’s going on in my little corner of the world, besides, if I don’t write it down, how will I ever remember?

I got the results from the x-rays of my neck, it basically says I have Degenerative cervical spondylosis (often referred to as degenerative arthritis) with narrowing of C5-C6, retrolisthesis (the posterior or backward slippage of a vertebra) of C5 on C6, and bilateral neural foraminal encroachment (spinal nerve root is compressed on both sides) at this same level more extensive on the left.

I went in on Monday and got my injection. They did the injection between C7 and T1, a little to the right, because my right arm is the one that bothers me the most. When the nurse took me back to the procedure room I told her how nervous I was because of my hearing loss and Stuart couldn’t be back there. Since losing my hearing it’s very hard to have procedures BEHIND me without Stuart there to help me. She reassured me over and over that they would take good care of me. I had her tell me everything they would be doing, and I felt a bit more at ease. The doctor came in, this is the first time I met him, I only saw his assistant before, he asked if I could hear him at all and I tole him Yes, but after I lie down and he is behind me it will be garbled and I will have a very hard time. He seemed to understand. Obviously he didn’t, because it was horrible. He talked with his assistant the entire time, it sounded like just chit-chat but I can’t be sure because I couldn’t understand anything that was being said. I had no idea when he spoke to me. I didn’t know when he was going to stick me, nothing. I was terrified he was telling me to be very still or to move or something and I was not able to understand. When it was over I didn’t even know. I was confused if it was time for me to get up. When I sat up the nurse was there and asked if I was alright and I said, “I do not feel taken care of” and I burst into tears. I explained what happened and she said how sorry she was and that it should not have happened that way. I got myself together and went back to my room to get my IV out and leave. The doctor came out and made sure to catch me before I left and apologized. He was very nice and told me that he talks because it calms him, he was very sorry and it will never happen again. We will make sure we have a better way to communicate. I left feeling much better, and I was proud of myself for speaking up. In the past I would have held it in and gotten out of there as fast as I could and simply not gone back. Now they were educated and I had a much better experience.

Unfortunately, the shot hasn’t worked. I’ve seen no evidence of any change. We will have to try something else. I go back the day before Thanksgiving for a follow up, we’ll discuss the next steps then.

Now for an update on the psych side of things. I still haven’t gotten approval from my insurance company for the ketamine. They came back saying I needed to try TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) first, so my doctor’s office had to send back explaining that I can’t do that because of my cochlear implants. Of course, it takes the insurance company forever to come back with an answer. Geez. On the up side though, the new antidepressant she put me on, Fetzima, is doing some good. I’m not back to my normal self, but I’m not feeling like I’m in the deepest darkest depths of despair either. I saw my psychiatrist on Wednesday and we increased the dosage, I’m hoping it will bring me up a bit more. She told me to watch out for side effects, as it can cause headaches. I asked her, “How would I know?” I was being kind of serious, like, would they be different than this constant thing I have now? or what? But she said, “I guess you wouldn’t.” Well damn. Now how do I know if my migraine is actually getting better but this drug is causing me to have a headache?

We have been constantly looking for houses, trying our best to find just the right house for us before our lease is up. We can move into Stuart’s father’s house, but that means we’ll need to move twice. We thought about renovating the family home, but we don’t really want to live there forever, so we are still searching for a place to call our own. Crossing fingers and toes that a house we saw this week will turn out to be the one. We might just have a very magical Christmas.

Speaking of holidays, is there anything more stressful than trying to organize a holiday meal with people won’t tell you what they will and will not eat until you tell them what you are making and then they just say, “Oh I can’t eat that”, or “The kids won’t eat that”? Ugh! I used to really want to have a family holiday, but boy oh boy is it a pain in the butt. They can’t afford to do much, so we thought we’d do everything, but I couldn’t get anyone to tell me what they would eat. I swear you just can’t please some people. So they are bringing food too, we will have way too much food for 7 people, about half of it, I can’t eat. When we lived in NC we used to have an “orphans” Thanksgiving. We’d have a big meal with a bunch of people who had no where to go for the holiday. It was always so much fun. We’d often play games after dinner and talk for hours. I don’t know anyone like that here, of course, I don’t know many people here.

To make things much less stressful for Thanksgiving I ordered our meal from Wholefoods. I’m adding another vegetable, a desert, and some cookies. That’s all the cooking I’m going to do, and I love baking, so that’s not stressful. I also make my cookies in batches, I simply freeze the dough and cook it later. Also, if I can’t do it, it’s not a big deal, the meal is taken care of, and the other half of the family is bringing a pie, so everything is covered. I find, the trick to surviving the holidays when you are chronically ill is to have all your bases covered in case you can’t do the things you want to get done. Don’t over extend yourself. Rest often and don’t eat too much junk. Try to keep your normal schedule if you can. You might want to increase some of your supplements. I increase my vitamin C, D, and Zinc during the winter.

How do you survive the holidays? Any tips you want to share?

Me and My Migraine

TX360 nasal applicator for SPG blocks for headache disorders

I’m happy to say I was able to get into see my doctor on the 18th, I’m sorry to say I still have this migraine. I’m happy to say I have had some relief, I’m sorry to say it has been very short lived.

When I saw my doctor we started the SPG ( Sphenopalatine Ganglion) blocks. You can see the device in the photo above. When they first started doing these blocks the procedure was much more invasive, now I can do it by myself. I’ll show you:

First you get the anesthetic in the syringe
Then you put the device together and place it in your nose (note the long tube that is shown in the main photo is up in the device at this point, not up in my nose)
Fist you just let the plunger fall, that releases the little tubing, then you press the plunger end and that releases the medication, and that’s it. Then you repeat it on the other side.

For the sake of time and because I’m feeling mighty lazy and hurting, here’s a link to an article about how SPG blocks are supposed to work: Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks in Headache Disorders

To break this migraine flare that has been going on since April 20th, I am to do these blocks every day for 10 to 14 days. Today is day 9, I’ve had a few hours of relief, but that’s all. I feel that as soon as the anesthetic wears off the pain returns. Sometimes it is within a few minutes, sometimes I get an hour or two, but never longer than that. I had hoped that the time would build up and up as the treatment progressed, I’m losing that hope now. There have been times that the pain has been so severe that I have considered going back to the Emergency Department, but why? I know it would do no good.

This has become very hard to talk about. People ask me how I’m doing and I find myself lying. I don’t want to tell anyone that I’m still in so much pain. I don’t want to keep avoiding social activities. I’ve forced myself to do things, but I did have to excuse myself because I was getting too sick. I’m embarrassed. I know people do not understand. I know they are tired of hearing it. I’m tired of living it. I’m tired of saying it. I’m tired of hearing people say they are sorry. How long can they continue to feel bad for me. I don’t want pity. I know they can’t understand. If this is my new normal I will have to learn to live with it. I have to learn to push through it. To be able to say, “I’m fine” when people ask, and somehow mean it. I have to be able to put on the face and be okay with that. No one wants to be around someone who is consumed by pain all the time. How do I answer these questions? No I’m not better, but I’m okay…..some days, some days I’m not okay, but that’s okay too.

I can hear it….. It’s just a headache. Is she ever going to get better? Can’t she just take something? Why doesn’t she get a better doctor? She exaggerates. It can’t hurt THAT much. She’s ALWAYS sick. I’d do this or that if I were her….massage, integrative medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, this or that supplement, this or that diet, this or that exercise, a certain pillow, essential oils, TMJ treatments….believe me I’ve tried so much my head spins from it all and I’m still considering more!!

Can you understand why I would lie about how I’m feeling? Why it’s getting so hard to talk about it? I am just so tired.

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!



Week and a day in review

I didn’t do it. I intended to do it. After I missed one day, I still thought I would do it, but didn’t write a single journal entry this past week. I’m such a slacker! I still kept up with my migraines on the Migraine Buddy app, so at least I have that information. Now let me share some of what’s been going on this past week.

On Saturday I had a vestibular migraine so debilitating that I could not walk without assistance. I stayed in a dim room (I really want black out curtains), in silence, with ice on my head all day. (The symptoms I was experiencing included vertigo and dizziness, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, scent sensitivity, nausea, cognitive impairment, blurred vision, and numbness and drooping of the right side of my face. It was a cloudy icky day.  Finally around 8:30 that night it started to rain.  When the barometric pressure eased so did my migraine, just in time for bed.

On Sunday we went to have brunch with Stuart’s Dad and his wife at her home in memory care. It had been too long since we had been there for a visit, it was nice, but we sat in the little restaurant for way too long for my physical comfort level. By the time we left my back was hurting pretty bad, and I was starting to get pretty grumpy.  I had been feeling so much better since starting the new anti depressant, but Sunday I was touchy, sad, and down on myself. I knew I missed a dose on Friday, but dang. Then that night I realized I missed another dose, I was so angry and ashamed I couldn’t even look at Stuart. (overreacted?)  When I saw my psychiatrist on Tuesday I found out that the prescription she called in was for the wrong dosage, so for the last week I have been taking half the dose I was taking the week before. Oops. So no wonder it really messed me up when I missed a couple of doses!  I’m trying new strategies to remind myself to take my meds with breakfast!  So far so good!

Back to migraine talk. I mentioned in a previous post that I messaged my doctor and asked about a new rescue medication because the Maxalt isn’t working any more. I finally heard back from her, there was a problem with their patient portal, after it was fixed I heard from her right away and we’ve talked a couple of times since then, so I feel better about that. Here’s what’s going on there: She suggested one of two things, trying Zomig nasal spray (it is another triptan, but could help more in this form) or try Migranal nasal spray (it is DHE in nasal spray form). I’m trying the Zomig because my insurance will cover it (still cost a lot), my insurance will not cover the Migranal, however, if the Zomig does not work we will appeal to the insurance company to see if they will cover the Migranal. She is also trying to get another treatment approved, a Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Block. The SPG is a group of nerves linked to the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve involved in headache, and is located behind the nose. They use a catheter through the nose to apply lidocaine to the SPG. I’ve been reading about it, and I’m not sure exactly how my doctor is planning on using it with me.  From what I’ve read it has been shown to reduce chronic migraine frequency and pain severity over a 6 month period after having the procedure done twice a week for 6 weeks. So yeah, I’d like to try that.

The above was written last night, May 16th, I thought I’d finish this up this morning and post it, but today did not go as planned, following is a recap of today.

Today started out pretty dang good.  I decided to try to start the day completely silent to see if my migraines would hold off for longer.  It was a nice way to start the day, the silence kind of forces me to be more mindful. I ate breakfast outside, sat out by the pool, did my breathing exercises, and started to do more of my yoga exercises, but the sun was too bright. I was still feeling good so I decided to sweep the front porch and patio. Gaah! That was the biggest mistake of the week! I got about half of it done when the pain in my back started to get too much, I slowed down and tried to get to a good stopping point. Then my vision got wavy, the pain started in my head, and my back seized. Oh boy. I dropped everything where it was and got inside as quick as I could so I wouldn’t fall down outside. Things calmed down and I thought things were going to be fine, I just had to rest. After about an hour things were going good. I was ready to get up and maybe do something, then the vertigo started, and I was not going anywhere. The rest of the day has been filled with these on and off sensations of vertigo and pain.  I wanted to try the Zomig, but I’ve already taken medication 7 of the 10 days I’m allowed in a month, I decided to save it for days when I have to be out somewhere, or really want to do something fun.

Speaking of something fun, we are planning on going to the botanical gardens this weekend, it is supposed to be a very nice weekend for it.  Cross fingers and toes we can make it there, I really want to go to the Butterfly House, and it closes for the season soon.

the photo above is by the pool, it was taken this morning.  It is my favorite spot in the yard, especially this time of year with the yellow, red and purple blooms.

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.

Unsteadily Unstable

For the past month or so I’ve been filled with an inner rage and desperation that has been screaming for help.  I was hearing all the anger, fear, and sadness, but I couldn’t hear the call for help.  This week I finally heard it.  I finally understand that I haven’t been just reacting poorly to the stress in my life, or having mood swings because of a hormones, no, I’ve been having a bipolar episode.  I still know my moods aren’t where they should be, but it’s better than it was, and I will be seeing my doctor about it very soon.

I have so many things I want to say, I don’t know where to start.  hmmmm.

I have been reading about bipolar symptoms, specifically rage, and saw many things that are too familiar.  The rage can be set off by the smallest of things, often something I would never even consider getting mad about on a normal day.  The anger starts and builds quickly to a full blown rage!  After all the screaming and throwing things, and who knows what else, is over I feel better for about 2 minutes then I suddenly think, “Oh my god, What have I just done?”  Bipolar rage if often associated with mania,  but can also manifest during depression.  For me if the rage is from a manic episode I blow up fast and furious, but it burns out as quick as it started, leaving only the guilt and hurt behind.  When the rage comes during a depression episode I will have a huge blow up and it will go down, but he anger is still there, and I will blow up again, or I just stay angry for a long time.  The rage inside wanting to break through the surface.  So rage during mania is like a short burst, the rage during depression is a short burst followed by underlying anger and possibly another burst or two.  Both can cause everlasting damage, but the later is much harder for me to deal with.  When the anger doesn’t just go away after a rage episode I start to think it’s not caused by my mood disorder I’m just a bitch, and I start getting angry at myself.  So much anger, that is so hard for me.  I’m not normally an angry person.

Sometimes I will get angry about something, but I don’t let it get to me, just slough it off – at least I thought I did.  Often when the rage hits it’s after I’ve had a few things happen that have caused me to get mad, but I didn’t feel like it was a big deal, I thought I was just letting it go.  It seems to me that it will often be a little thing that sets it off, but it’s like the last straw kind of thing, all those little things I have gotten mad about suddenly rise to the surface and that one little event that made me blow up was fueled by all those other small flames.

Rage can damage even the closest relationships.  It can cause trouble at work, with your family, friends, authorities….rage can really mess up your life.  I’m so very lucky that my husband understands that my rage may seem focused on him, but it really has nothing to do with him.  Sometimes it does spark conversations and we fix all those little things that built up, but honestly the rage is never deserved. Even though he knows all this, it is still very, very hard on him.  When I get to the breaking point I often leave.  I will pack a bag and set off.  I have no idea where I’m going, and I just get madder because I feel I have no where to go.  When I leave like that it hurts and scares Stuart so much.  During this last episode I made him cry.  My husband does not cry often.

I was mostly stable for over 20 years, but over the last few years I’ve had more than one break through episode.  I’ve needed to change medications too many times.  I’m afraid we are going to get to the point where nothing works.  In addition to Bipolar I disorder, I also have generalized anxiety disorder.  Trying to find medications that treat both and I can tolerate has been a challenge.  I’m hoping the gene test I did will help with that.  I can  definitely say, that the new medication she put me on is not working, we have to find something else.

For over a month now I’ve been dealing with severe anger mixed with depression and anxiety.  I have also been getting tickled over the stupidest stuff and laugh until it hurts, but that doesn’t last long and I return to the negative moods quickly.

I think the rage has also been triggered by the return of my vertigo.  I’m back to having attacks multiple times a day.  I do think many of them are caused by migraine instead of Meniere’s because with some attacks I’ve been having aura right before it starts.  The fear has been real.  Not just the fear that it is coming back, I’m actually starting to accept that I am having a relapse, but I know the is a possibility for a remission.  However, I fear for my safety.  I’ve fallen 3 times in the past 2 weeks.  I’m back to using my walker in the house and sometimes when we go out.  (often when we go out I can use a shopping cart, or Stuart’s arm to steady me enough that I can get by for a bit)  For the most part I’ve been confined to the house, without the ability to do much of anything except watch TV.  I did sit outside once this week, but I had vertigo outside without anyone home, I had a very difficult time getting back inside.  I don’t think I’ll be going outside when I’m home alone any time soon.  I did ask my landlord yesterday if he would be a backup for me if I fell and needed someone and Stuart couldn’t get home, gratefully he said he would.  Of course, he also might not be available, but I’m relieved to know there is someone can call if I need it.

I think that’s enough for today.

I’ll leave you with a few photos I took yesterday of the flowers around my yard.  I miss seeing the leaves change colors, but I’m seeing a different beauty in the desert.  (most of these are Lantanas, technically a weed from Mexico.  It is very pretty and drought resistant. You will find them all over the area.  I’m thrilled to see this gorgeous native plant almost everywhere I go)

 

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

 

My Chronic Migraines

headache-7
photo of and by w. holcombe

I have Chronic Migraines.  I’ve been told this before, it was said once again yesterday.  I’ve met a number of Neurologist who thought they could make it better.  I still have Chronic Migraines.

I’ve been to 2 Neurologists who are Headache Specialist.  There aren’t many of these doctors out there, I’m lucky that I have been able to see 2 of them.

The first specialist I was seeing was a Duke, I moved to Charlotte and started seeing a specialist here.  I never thought we’d get to the point where we are now.

I’ve tried so many medications.  I’ve tried Botox, and well just so many things.  There are some medications I can’t try because of reactions I’ve had to other medications.  My doctor is at the end of things to try.

I was taken off Topamax when I had the seizures because they thought that it may have caused them, now that we know it wasn’t the medication I can go back on it.  My migraines did get worse when I was off of it, but my headaches were a long way from being optimal when I was taking it.

Over the last 3 months I’ve had a migraine ever day except 8.  This does not include the headache I constantly have.  When I first started seeing the specialist here she thought we could get the daily headaches under control and then the migraines would get better, well neither of those things happened.

Now I’m going back on Topamax to at least get me back to where I was.  Having migraines about 15 days a months instead of about 30.

I saw my specialist yesterday and she said she is looking out for studies for me to participate in.  There is nothing else she can think of.

I’ve decided to go to a Functional Medicine group to see if they can help me. Unfortunately, they are not covered under my insurance so this can get quite costly.  I’m not sure how much I will be able to afford.

(Functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for chronic illness and disease.)

This is Invisible Illness Week.  I’m not sure I’ll get it together enough to really post much about it, but Migraines are an invisible illness.  I look perfectly fine yet I’m struggling every day.  I have Persistent Daily Headaches and Migraine headaches.  Every day my head hurts.

Remember, just because someone looks perfectly fine doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering silently.  We may look great and still be sick.

#ThisIsChronicIllness #InvisibleIllness

 

Stress should be a 4 letter word

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Stress is widely known to cause the chronically ill to get sicker, to have flares, to generally feel worse…  Stress is an ugly word that I hate to hear my doctors say. “This is being made worse because of stress.”, “You need to get your stress under control.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this.

The amount of stress I’ve been under the last few months would make the healthiest person feel bad, for someone who is chronically ill, with both physical and mental illnesses this has been a very trying time.  I’m sure you are wondering, “What has been going on in Wendy’s life?”  Well let me tell ya!

This may not be in order, I’m just going to get it all out.  We moved, we had a friend move in with us, I was having vertigo a lot for a while, I’m constantly afraid I will have a vertigo attack, I’ve been having migraines daily for months, my father passed away, I went through all the stress building up to my father’s death, the stress of the funeral….I feel like it has been non-stop.

I’m wondering if my migraines are worse because of the stress?  My chronic daily headache now has a base line of a 4-5 where it used to be 2-3, on a 0 – 10 scale. The pain in my neck and upper back due to degenerative discs has greatly increased, I’m in physical therapy for that now.  (going to PT is another stress, as Stuart has to take time away from work to take me to my appointments, this time has to be made up, that’s hard on both of us; and some PT sessions seem to make things worse, that’s a stressor too.)  I can’t take pain relievers which causes a certain amount of stress too because I never have any relief. My tinnitus has been very loud.  Some days my balance is worse than usual.  My emotional state is not well.  I’ve been depressed. (yes I know I have reasons to be sad, but this is more than that).  My anxiety is very high.  I am extremely irritable (I’m shocked at how much Stuart and I have been arguing, and bickering, normally we rarely argue)  I’m restless, yet tired, excessively worried, feeling like I’m trembling inside, very sad, my appetite is out of control, I am extremely self-conscious, I have very little self-esteem and I keep beating myself up for things I have no control over.  I can’t relax; I can’t give myself a break; I’m not being kind to myself.  I’m just a mess.

I’ve been having a very rough time.  This is upsetting because I’m at the best place I’ve been with my vertigo than I’ve been in a couple of years.  I haven’t had a bad attack in almost 2 months.  This is surprising because it normally gets worse when I’m under a lot of stress.  However, It is often much better during the summer.  I know I would be feeling even worse if I was having vertigo as often as I normally do.  But I can’t stop having profound fear that it will get worse any moment.  I’m having a hard time enjoying this break because I’m so terrified I’ll have an attack at any moment.

I was trying to take better care of myself, but I have to admit in the last few weeks most of that has gone out of the window.

When we are under stress it is imperative that we practice self-care.

Things I plan to do to increase my self-care:

  • Be sure to see my therapist and be open and honest during appointments.
  • Give myself a break.  This is more easily said than done, but I need to really make a conscious effort to do so.  When I have negative thoughts or feelings I want to start being more gentle with myself.
  • Meditate more.
  • Take more baths.
  • Watch funnier TV shows and/or movies.
  • Read funny or inspirational books.
  • Cuddle with my hubby.
  • Cuddle with Max (the cat) and Kiki (the little dog).
  • Eat healthier.
  • Do as much as my health will allow that makes me happy.
  • Be creative.
  • Stay in touch with those who love and nurture me.
  • Try to get outside more.
  • Keep up a gratitude list every day.
  • Laugh
  • Sing Silly Songs
  • Dance
  • Give my body 10 minutes of mindful attention.
  • Take a nap.
  • Take Deep Breaths
  • Get Positive Feedback (ask 3 friends what they love about me)
  • Write out my thoughts (for 15 minutes free write what ever I’m feeling, I can tear it up after, just get it out.)
  • Drink water (I’ve been drinking soda recently, something I haven’t done in years)

 

How do you take care of yourself?  Any self-care suggestions?  I’d love to hear them!

 

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Migraine Madness

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My migraines are never under a 6, the average is a 7.5.  10 means you go to the Emergency Room.  Unless I was dying I wouldn’t go to the ER for a migraine.  I do not think they could help, and I do not want to labeled a drug seeker.

This post is personal.  No links to studies to back up what I’m saying.  Nothing more than what is happening to me.

On March 22nd I had a migraine.  Every day since March 27th, except 1, I’ve had a migraine.  Yes, I’ve had a migraine for 43 days out of 44.

This is not a medication rebound headache.  I have not taken medication for more than 15 days in a given month.

Can you imagine the days I haven’t used medication?

When I use medication I have Maxalt, Toradol, Toradol injections, …and well that’s about it for my rescue meds.  I am on others that are supposed to help keep these buggers away, but as you can tell, it isn’t working.

I’ve gone through a DHE protocol of 3 shots for 3 days.  During this time was the day I didn’t have a migraine.  I still had a headache, but it wasn’t a migraine.

Why is this happening to me.  Well I have a guess, but I don’t really know.

After I had my seizures my Neurologist told me that Topamax can cause seizures in some people.  This medication is used to prevent migraines, but it is also used for seizures.  So the thought is that the seizure drug I was on actually caused my seizures. I was on it for a long time before I got seizures, but there was this little hiccup problem with that medication right before I started having seizures that probably caused it to go crazy.  Our mail order pharmacy didn’t fill my prescription on time.  They had a problem with the prescription and didn’t tell anyone.  Things got so crazy I was off of my med for over a week, it may have been close to 2, when I finally got my prescription I just started taking the full dose, I didn’t think about ramping up.

So I ramped down and got off the Topamax and the seizures stopped.  I was off of the Topamax for less than a month when these migraines started.  I normally have about 15 migraines a month, some months a little more.  Very few months have I had less than 15.  I used to think the Topamax didn’t do a lot to prevent my migraines, now I am pretty sure it did.  Right now I’m so ready to go back on this drug.  If I have a seizure I’ll stop it.  (I wouldn’t say this if the seizures had been hurting me, but from all the tests, the only harm they cause if the twisting of my body.)  Unfortunately, I kinda doubt my doctor will be willing to take this risk.  Maybe there will be something better.

Today my neurologist called in another medication for me.  I’m to have 2 more DHE shots and take this new medication right before I go to bed for 3 days.  (I’m sorry I don’t remember what the medication is, I’ll find out when Stuart gets home with it.)

If this new medicine regimen doesn’t work I don’t know what the doctor will do.   I’m lucky that my neurologist specializes in headaches.  She actually runs a Headache Clinic.  I’m confident we will be able to get these migraines under control.  She won’t give up.

During this past month the vertigo has showed it’s ugly head again, but not as often as I would have thought.  I do question if this vertigo was Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV) .  I’ve had a couple of attacks of rotational vertigo (where I see the world spinning around), most has been motion vertigo (where I feel as if I’m moving but I’m not).  Rotational vertigo is by far the worse.  I had a bought of that yesterday, but it wasn’t too bad.  The world would spin for a few seconds then for hours I’d feel like I was moving or that when I moved I had absolutely no balance what so ever.  Yesterday could have been MAV, I just don’t know.  It was a very bad day.  I woke with a Migraine at 9.5 on a 0-10 scale.  This causes me a lot of stress, stress causes a Meniere’s attack, of course that causes vertigo.  I’m leaning toward Meniere’s because my hearing was way off all day.

Most of the month I’ve been having motion vertigo, this was only the 3rd time I’ve had rotational vertigo.  I’m not sure why the rotational vertigo has calmed down, but I’ll take it.

I haven’t been around so much this past week, because the pain is getting to me.  I’m falling into Migraine Madness.

So, all my ramblings lead to one thing.  My head HURTS.