Decisions

Image by Jan Alexander from Pixabay

It seems like I often stay away from here more than I intend to. I will come here and sit and think of a hundred things to write and feel like none of them are worth actually putting into words. I have some ideas for posts I want to write about that I think are interesting, but I just can’t get those out right now. Things just aren’t settled enough in me to get the words out right, I’m too self absorbed, I guess, to sit down and write about anything intellectual. So for now, if you will hang in there with me, you are going to hear more about me.

I made a huge decision this weekend, I’m backing off on some treatments. Yep, you heard right, I’m so tired of it all I’m taking a break. This is simply taking way too much out of me. More importantly, it’s taking way too much out of Stuart. He isn’t complaining, but I see it. I have at least 1 appointment a week, normally 2, often more. He has to leave work early at least one of those days. If I have an appointment at the pain management doctor he has to take half a day off because it’s an hour away. He also has to do most of the dishes, the laundry….he’s really an amazing man. Luckily we found a housekeeper and she will be coming in starting next Monday once a month to do the major cleaning. We still haven’t finished getting all our moving in stuff straight and we have been here 2 months. I simply cannot do it. We are both so overwhelmed it’s crazy. He’s being made to feel like he’s having to choose between me and work. That’s going to make him hate his job real quick, he’s already talking about looking for another one. I’m freaking out about that. He has to feel better about things. I have to take some of this off of him and the only way I can do that is to remove some of the responsibility from him. Getting rides to doctor’s appointments is not a solution. I cannot hear well enough in the appointment to handle it alone, he has to be there to help me answer questions, and to help me understand what the doctor says. He also needs to be there in case I crash. I often have vertigo attacks due to the stress that comes with these appointments, I would need someone there knows how to deal with that.

I’ve canceled all the pain management appointments, I’ll consider going to another clinic if I can find one closer to us that has appointments at times that won’t take Stuart away from work so much. I do admit I’m having more migraines this month since the occipital block wore off, but it’s not worth the stress of going an hour in one direction to their office. It’s a hard trip, and I don’t really like the doctor. I see my psychiatrist next week, we are normally able to get a late afternoon appointment with her, so Stuart doesn’t miss work, but if I get approved for the Ketamine I’m not sure if I’d have to go in earlier, so that would have to be part of that decision now. I’m changing my primary care physician to a doctor that is very close to me, so I it will be very easy to get there. I don’t think I need to go to a kidney doctor any more, so I’m canceling that. I will keep seeing my migraine doctor, I don’t see her but every 3 months, so it’s not that bad. And if Stuart can’t go, my neighbor said she would take me. I know I can hear her, and I think she will listen to me. A lot of doctors don’t listen without Stuart backing me up, there is definitely a prejudice against women in the medical industry, we have really noticed a marked difference in how doctors treat me when I’m alone and how they treat me when Stuart is there to back up what I’m saying.

There has just been so much going on and I just can’t see where there has been that much improvement. Yes, I do see some improvement, but when you are doing so many things how can you know which one is the one working? I started the Aimovig 4 months ago, they say it takes about 3 months before you can judge if it’s working, well that was the same month I got the occipital block, so I don’t know if the shot or the block was the one working. I think it’s a wise idea to find out which one is helping before I keep spending money on both. I’m also not fond of the idea of continually putting steroids into my body after having avascular necrosis. They told me that it was most likely caused by steroid use and that it’s possible to get it in other joints; I don’t want any other bones to die, having one hip replacement is enough. However, if the occipital block is the one that worked then they can cauterize the nerve and that could last a couple of years. But they want to do an occipital block on the other side first and then they plan on doing injections in my back to help the muscles that won’t stop firing….that’s a lot of steroid injections. I think seeing another pain specialist to get another opinion might be a good idea anyway. I think my back might need some myofascial release. I found a pain clinic that does that kind of thing too, they are only 30 mins away, well at least I’m getting closer…sigh. First I’m taking at least a month off from that kind of stuff. Next I’m going through my medications and deciding which meds I know are working and which ones I’m taking because I think they may be doing something and I’ve been afraid to stop just in case. I’m tired of taking things that I’m not positive are helping. Lots of decisions to be made.

I do have some exciting things I’ve been doing and coming up, including a chronic pain group I’ve been attending and a migraine retreat I’m going to in April, I’ll write about those soon, I promise, but this is getting long. So I’m going to close and get this posted before I decide it isn’t worth posting and scrap it.

Have any of you decided to just take a break from some treatments? I’d love to hear your experience.

When I Can't Take Abortive Migraine Medication

Image by Seksak Kerdkanno from Pixabay

I have chronic migraines. You are defined as having chronic migraines when you have more than 14 migraines a month, I have more than 20. In the last month I’ve had 2 migraine free days. Due to the risk of Medication Overuse Headaches (you can read more about MOH here), and the possibility of some nasty side effects, you are only allowed to take abortive medications twice a week or a maximum of 10 per month. Abortive (also referred to as acute or rescue) medications are medications you take at the time of the migraine to stop it, they are best used at the first signs of a migraine. Abortive medications are analgesics (such as NSAIDS, Excedrin Migraine…), triptans, ergotamines, and on rare occasions opioids.

This week has been a rough one, I’ve had some intense migraines and I’d already used my abortive medications for the week. What’s a girl to do?

Suffer? Yeah, maybe, but I have found a few things that do help a little and sometimes they even get me back to my smiling self. 🙂 Like most migraine treatments these work best if you use them early, when the pain gets really bad, it takes much more to get it under control. (so it’s really hard when you wake up with a whopper) Here’s a little list of things I’ve been using that seem to help me, just keep in mind that everyone is different these might not work for you, or, who knows, they might work better for you than they do for me.

  • caffeine – one of the first things I reach for now is caffeine. I don’t use a lot, but I am using more than I used to. I always keep my consumption under 200mg a day (going over can cause rebound headaches so you have to be careful about this treatment), but when I have a migraine a little jolt of caffeine can help. I normally take it in conjunction with other things. (my usual dosage is about 41 mg in a 16oz drink)
  • ginger – Ginger has been shown to help stop a migraine. There have been a few studies showing how ginger helps with migraines, the one that impressed me the most was one that was held in an ER, the patients that came in with migraines were either given an NSAID with ginger or the NSAID alone and the group that were given ginger were more likely to find relief across the board. There is also a study that showed that ginger was as effective as sumatriptan (Imatrex) for some people. I’m not one of those people, but I do think it helps. So I take 500 mg of ginger now at the first sign of a migraine. Here are some links to studies about ginger Ginger and migraine treatment, Ginger efficacy compared to sumatriptan, Feverfew and ginger for migraine.
  • I decided to try a homeopathic remedy, I honestly didn’t think it would do anything, but it didn’t cost much so I thought I’d give it a go. Much to my surprise, it helps. It’s not a miracle, it rarely takes it all away, but it often lessens it enough that I can function. (I think it’s worth noting that I’ve never taken this without either caffeine or ginger) It’s called Hyland’s Migraine Headache Relief. It contains Glonoinum, Belladonna, Gelsemium, Nux Vomica, Iris Versiolor, and Sanguinaria Canadensis. I found it at Sprouts, but when I did an online search it looks like you can find it all over. The dosage is 1 or 2 tablets every 4 hours. You let them dissolve on your tongue, I like this a lot. If I happen to not have water I can still take this, and it doesn’t taste nasty. I always start with 2, and in 4 hours if I need more I then decide if I need 1 or 2 at that dose. I have noticed no side effects from this so far. I bought this product with my own money, I am not receiving anything from the company, they know nothing of me, this is not an official review or anything like that.) undefined
  • medical marijuana – I’m going to write a post about this soon, probably the next post I put out, but I thought I’d put a little blurb here that I do use medical marijuana to help with my migraines. It is not a miracle, but it does help. However, it is a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.
  • ice or heat – my head is variable, it sometimes feels relief from an ice pack, sometimes from heat, so I try both. Sometimes I’m afraid to try either for fear of making it worse. But normally I’ll try ice if my pain is mainly on the top of my head, if my neck is the main culprit I’ll use heat, if my forehead is where the pain originates I kind of leave it. I have an IceKap, I have found it works well when my head wants ice, but it’s heavy and my neck doesn’t like that so I don’t use it much. However, if you are someone who needs ice for your migraine, this cap is great for getting your head cold and it stays in place. It presses on my glasses though, I don’t like that, I don’t like to take my glasses off when I have a migraine because of the vertigo. (again, I bought the IceKap, no one knows I’m saying anything about it. I’m not getting anything.)
  • Epsom Salt Bath – I can’t do this all the time because of vertigo and other times when I’m hurting too much I just can’t get in the tub, but when I have a moderate headache a nice soak in a tub with Epsom Salts can really help. Add the scent of lavender or mint and it can really be relaxing, and I normally hate scents, but I really liked the lavender Epsom salts I tried recently. It wasn’t a fake smell, or too over powering. It was very relaxing. That’s a good thing.
  • That’s about it from me, other people really like essential oils, but for the most part scents trigger migraines for me, none have relieved them. I do find peppermint a little helpful sometimes, but other times it makes me nauseous, so I don’t like to risk it. Lemon is about the only smell that never makes me sick. Oh…Sometimes if I eat something spicy it will lessen the pain in my head for little while, but it doesn’t last. If you can trigger an ice cream headache, it’s supposed to stop a migraine, but dang! That’s something I don’t really want to try. Oh who am I kidding, I have tried, you know it’s hard to trigger one of those when you are trying to do it. I still can’t tell you if it works, and when I think about it I really don’t want to cause myself that much pain.
  • Note that I didn’t include things like massage, acupuncture…. because I consider those more preventative and today I’m focusing on abortive treatments. Also I’m focusing on things I can do for myself without help.

How do you treat your migraines when you can’t take your meds,?

Did I share anything that you found interesting?

How has your week been? I’m thrilled to say today I don’t have a migraine! The exact opposite of every other day this week. Yay.

May we all have a pleasant weekend. We are finally getting the rest of our furniture this weekend. Woot, Woot!

First Meeting

I met someone yesterday who touched my heart, she cleaned my house, but that isn’t what made her special.

Since I’ve been having this flare I haven’t been able to keep up with the house cleaning so we decided to have someone come in to help out. I was looking on the Nextdoor site and saw where a neighbor was asking about a cleaner for her home, several people answered her but one person’s comment struck me more than the rest so I messaged her and asked if she’d be interested in helping us out. Lucky for us, she said yes. That’s how we met Lennie.

After several texts back and forth we set up a date and she came over yesterday. When she came to the door I felt I would like her instantly, and within the first 5 minutes I knew I was right. Her smile lights up her face and she is genuinely warm and friendly. We have a sign in our front yard, I posted a picture of it on here before, it says things like “Love is Love”, “No Human Is Illegal”, “Science Is Real”…. This sign means a lot to me. It says a lot about what I believe in, and who I am. When Lennie came in she mentioned how much she loved our sign, she said she saw it and thought “These are mine kind of people.” I gave her a high five.

We chatted some as she went about her business. She knew from our messages about some of my health issues, but I didn’t know she had a few. Her illness was not supposed to be chronic, but it did have some long term complications. She really understands going through a long ordeal before being diagnosed.

The main thing I really wanted to write about was how she reacted to my hearing loss. When she found out I lost my hearing just a few years ago she first asked the same thing everyone else does, “Do you know sign language?” I wonder why that’s the first thing people ask? You know when you are not immersed in a language it’s hard to become fluent in it, especially at my age. Taking a class when you are fighting vertigo and migraines on a daily basis is almost impossible. Absorbing a foreign language while dealing with those? Well I haven’t been able to do it. But anyway, after we discussed all that, I promise I didn’t say anything rude, she asked me something no one else ever has: “Has losing your hearing been difficult?”

My first instinct was to say “No”, and just brush it off. I started to say that I thought it was more difficult for Stuart, but then I stopped. I looked at her and felt tears well up in my eyes, “Yes, yes, it has been very difficult.”

I was taken aback by the fact that she asked, and genuinely seemed to care. No one has ever asked me that before. I’ve never gotten the impression that anyone has felt that it has been very difficult. I think some people see that I have some challenges, but I don’t think they understand how difficult it is, and I think it would make them uncomfortable if they knew. I think a lot of people think my cochlear implants “fixed” my hearing loss, and others think I’m really good at handling it. Truth of the matter is, it’s extremely difficult, my CIs are far from perfect, and I think I handle it pretty well but that doesn’t mean I always understand what the heck you’re saying or that it’s any less difficult.

Meeting Lennie made me realize that I can still make connections with people in the “real world”. It may still be difficult to nurture a friendship when I can’t drive and may often have to cancel things and I can’t hear in many situations…but Lennie made me want to try.

You never know what kind of mark you may leave on a person, try to make that mark a good one. Look what Lennie has done for me.

(I will try to post about some of the difficulties I have dealing with hearing loss soon.)

Ketamine and Esketamine — Repost from Experiments in Happiness

In the upcoming weeks, as soon as my insurance approves it, I will be receiving Spravato (esketamine nasal spray) for depression. I wanted to put together a post explaining what it is all about it, then I found this post and thought I couldn’t possibly do a better job. So I hope you don’t mind if I share this with you. Please note that this covers all forms of ketamine, if you want to just read the “How Effective Is It” statistics surrounding what I will be receiving read sections 3 and 4. I got so much information from tbe post started to not even watch the video attached to it, but then I noticed that it is captioned so I went ahead and watched it and it is very interesting. It does get a little in depth in the science part of things, so if you are interested in that kind of thing, it’s worth it, but if that bores you, you might want to skip it.

Do you have any experience with ketamine? Know anyone who has? Do you have or know anyone who has, medication resistant depression? Or like me, the meds stopped working or there are just way too many bad side effects? I’d love to know other’s experiences.

Ketamine and Esketamine

Drug Class: NMDA Antagonist

How it works: Blocks a channel for a chemical in the brain called NMDA. This, in turn, increases the effects of another channel for a chemical called AMPA. This leads to increased effects of BDNF and mTOR. The increased effects of BDNF and mTOR helps the brain to rapidly form new […] Ketamine and Esketamine — Experiments in Happiness

I don’t want to talk about it.

Image by TPHeinz from Pixabay

I have found myself dreading coming to my blog. I don’t want to talk about me, but I have always kept this blog open and honest and I don’t want to stop that. As I look back at the many years I’ve been writing here, I’ve been up and down and up and down and up and down….have I really made any progress? How do we measure progress? I think that’s the real question, and not one I’m going to answer today.

I have a lot going on right now and I simply don’t feel like talking. Ummm, that may not be true, I just don’t want to feel worse when I do. I’ve reached out and been ignored…not sure what happened there. I spilled my guts to someone who told me I could always talk to them, when I finished they said, “WOW. You have a lot going on. Praying you get some relief very soon. Love you bunches.” and that was the end of the conversation. I cried for most of the day after that. That is what happens when you try to talk to someone who does not have chronic or mental illness. She may love me, but she has no clue. And it makes me VERY wary to talk to anyone unless they are my peeps. But I don’t have many peeps and I don’t want to wear out the few I have. I do have a very good friend who hears almost everything and she is amazing, but she has her own crap going on and I can’t just keep unloading on her all the time. Of course, Stuart’s here, and he has never made me feel like I can’t talk to him, or made me feel bad about how I feel, but he needs to get away from it sometimes and he thankfully he doesn’t have a chronic illness. Support groups do not work for me, those people get on my nerves. I have a therapist, but let’s face it, one hour a week is not always enough, and sometimes you don’t get that. (like when I’m so sick I can’t go, and soon she’s going to Thailand for 3 weeks…Ahhh! I am happy for her, she’s never done anything like this before. What a dream trip.) Oh, dang I’ve completely lost my train of thought. So anyway…I don’t want to talk, or maybe I don’t trust talking, I don’t think it’s doing much good, and I feel like I’m losing the few friends I have because of it. I have some new treatments coming up and as that happens I’ll post about them. I would love to know more about other people’s experiences with these treatments, so I’ll be sure to post mine. (I just started Aimovig for my migraines, I’m going to be trying ketamine (esketamine nasal spray) as soon as my insurance approves it for my depression, and I’m going to be going to a pain clinic for my neck pain caused by my migraines…or the neck pain contributing to my migraines…anyway…pain.) So there will be posts.

I’ve decided to try to start putting out more posts, but they will be posts that are about my chronic illnesses and not so much about just me. I will probably put in there how it relates to me personally. But I have soooo much going on right now there may not be a lot of posts coming out, but I’m going to give it the old college try. (where did that saying come from?)

Well, that’s what’s on my mind today. Plus a whole heck of a lot more, but most of that is a mess!

Before I go, I’d like for all of you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to I’ll listen. Well, not with my ears, but I’ll text, message, email…. There is a contact form right here on my blog just go up to the top and you’ll see the “About Me /Contact Me” tab…you can contact me right there and it will email me. Now, if you are someone who wants me to sell something on my blog, or do some strange post, or something like that…don’t waste your time. I’m really not into those things. But if you need a to talk, I’m here for you.

My Brain Screams

manipulated detail photo of saguaro catus by wendy holcombe

For over a year now I’ve been hit with one thing after another. Last Fall my bipolar medication stopped working and I basically had a psychotic break with the mania/rage going way out of control and battling a lot of medication side effects before we finally got that under control. Then I had a severe UTI that caused hydronephrosis in both kidneys, I had a cyst removed from my scalp that got horribly infected and I had a reaction to the antibiotics. In April the severe intractable migraine started and has continually gotten worse; over the last couple of months I’ve been having an escalation of cluster headaches, at least one a week. and now my antidepressants have stopped working. All this while we have been looking for a house, in the worse housing market I have ever seen, and we have to move from our rental by the end of November.

It is any wonder my brain has decided to check out?

In 2016 I started having seizures during an extremely stressful time of my life. It was determined they were psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. You can read more about that in this post: Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures What Are They? Since that time I haven’t had many, only a few and only in times of great pain (like when I was in the ER for my migraine) or extreme stress (like after a vertigo attack that happened during the mania). Lately they have been coming regularly. It is increasing my pain levels dramatically. When I have a seizure it looks like a grand mal seizure. It starts with my right hand twitching, then the arm goes, and the whole right side twitches and curves back, my head draws back, my muscles are all tight and spasming. It is very painful, and my neck and shoulder on the right side still hurt so much. I feel tingly on that side, and I just feel so off. During the seizure I am mostly aware, but I can’t do anything. Sometimes I’m not as aware, sometimes I’m very confused when it’s over. I always cry when it’s over. I feel so exposed, vulnerable, scared, and unsafe.

Just a year ago I was doing so much better I bought a car. I was driving, cooking, shopping, painting, swimming…. I don’t understand what happened. I’m not asking “Why me?” or anything like that, I’m simply confused. I know we made a major move, but I was doing pretty good for the first few months we were here, so I really don’t think it was the stress of moving. But I guess one stress could possibly have snow balled into a bigger stress… into a bigger stress… into more illness…but who really knows. All this could have happened no matter what. It could have happened independently, but it just happened to happen one right after another I suppose.

Where does it leave me now?

Migraines – I’m still starting Aimovig on the 28th for my migraines, but I won’t know if it’s working for 3 months. I just finished a round of steroids hoping to get a break from the pain, it did lower the pain level, but they made me so sick I couldn’t enjoy it. (Oh boy was I sick, Meniere’s and steroids do not mesh well together, at least not with me). I may go to the pain clinic to get injections in my neck, I haven’t decided about that yet. Just a little scared about that one. Oh, the Migranal nasal spray is working as a rescue medication, thankfully. It doesn’t completely take it away, but it comes close, so I am having a little bit of relief twice a week. More than I was getting, but as I said, it doesn’t take it all away, it takes it from a 10 to a 7 or maybe, if I’m lucky a 6. Ah….a 6…but that is a rarity.

Mental Health – I started a new antidepressant, Trintellix, on Tuesday. I’m to try it for 2 weeks and if it doesn’t work we’re going to try Ketamine. I’ve tried everything else. This should be interesting. I’m working with both my psychiatrist and my psychologist about my seizures. I need to get my pain and stress under control. One step at a time. Just one moment at a time.

Home life – We’ll be moving into one of Stuart’s dad’s houses the beginning of November. The house Stuart grew up in. We aren’t sure if we’ll continue to look for a house to buy, or if we’ll stay there and renovate his house. The house is a bit further out than we planned to live, so we’re going to live there for a while to see how we like it. Kinda cool that we can do that. I’ve just been freaking out a little about not having a home, and needing to settle down. I’ve been feeling so lost and temporary ever since we moved from our house, six years ago, but it’s been so much worse since we moved here. When we moved here we basically got rid of everything. We have 2 chairs in our living room, and one is very uncomfortable. We have no dining room furniture. Our home is very sparse. We did not plan on renting for this long. It’s just so hard on me. This has just been so hard. I need stability. I NEED IT.

Right now I feel very alone, vulnerable, and scared. The only place I feel safe is in my husband’s arms. He literally saves my life every day. I told him that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here any more. So much pain, both physically and mentally…it’s just so much. And my amazing husband told me that he loves me so much, he never wants to lose me, but it also makes him feel guilty because he knows how much I’m suffering. I don’t know how I ended up with such an amazing man. He’ll never know how much it helps me to know he hears me.

I have so much, a wonderful husband, a roof over my head, nice clothes, good food, access to quality health care, support…. and yet I’m so unhappy. I’m so very sad. It hurts so much. My thoughts are consumed with pain. I find no enjoyment in anything. A friend posted a question on her blog asking if you found out you were going to die what would you regret not doing more of….and I could not answer that question. First I thought, not helping others more, getting more involved…. But then I tried to think of something I enjoyed that I would wish I had done more of, and I had nothing. There are things I used to love to do, but now…..not so much. My art…nope. Cooking…too much work. Taking pictures…can’t see it. I can think of nothing. All I do is sit and color by number. And that’s not for enjoyment, it’s to take my mind off of the pain…the migraine, the chronic daily headache, the back pain, the neck pain, the hip pain, the bladder pain, the pelvic pain…so much pain every day.

life is suffering. life is pain. life is ever changing. life is impermanence.

I feel shame (Shame and Chronic Illness)

I’ve been trying to write a post for weeks now, but I just haven’t been able to get the words to come out. I had a CTA scan of my head and neck on July 26th, that’s a CT scan that shows your arteries. I had planned to post about it, to show you the awful bruise the contrast caused, and tell you how I freaked out when the contrast hit me, but I was actually ashamed that I felt that way. They had a hard time finding my veins, as usual, and I, once again, felt ashamed that I’m difficult. I had a bit of a reaction to the contrast and had a very debilitating migraine and nausea for days. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do anything. Lorraine was nice enough to do a Mindfulness Monday. I’m ashamed I haven’t written since then.

I feel that I have needed to write and tell you how I’m still struggling with the migraines, how the medication isn’t working, and how I can’t accomplish anything really. But I’m ashamed that I’m not better. I’m ashamed that I keep trying different medications and they don’t work on me. I feel like I’m failing. In our culture we are expected to take a drug when we get sick and get better, if we don’t get better then we aren’t trying hard enough. We should change our diet, exercise more…. You see the stories all the time, how someone beat this or that disease by doing these things. We are expected to fight our illnesses and get better, when we don’t we often feel shame. Or at least, I know I do.

With my migraines everyone has a solution. So many people have or know someone with migraine, it isn’t rare, but chances are it’s episodic migraine not chronic migraine. I’m asked so often, “Do you take medication?” and it’s followed by, “I take (or so and so takes)______ and it works!” I want to scream, “Of course I take medication! I take preventatives, and abortives, and supplements, and I use alternative treatments! Nothing is working but I’m afraid to stop any of them for fear it will get worse!” But instead I feel ashamed that I’m defective. Not only do I have migraines, I have migraines that won’t respond to treatment.

Weekend before last we went out for breakfast with Stuart’s father at our usual place. I ordered a gluten free pancake, when it came I suspected it was wrong, but they have never gotten my order wrong before, so I took a bite. I knew immediately it was wrong. I was poisoned. I called the waitress over and asked and sure enough, it wasn’t gluten free. She apologized and I smiled and just ordered a new one. I looked at Stuart with huge eyes and he just said, there was nothing that could be done now. His father said, “it was only one bite” Stuart explained that it only takes a crumb. I should have told the waitress that I didn’t want anything else and told Stuart and his dad we needed to go home, but instead I was too ashamed. I ate that new pancake knowing that I would be sick within an hour or two. I sat there listening to them talk, while my head pounded, my stomach started to ache and get tight and my bowels started to rumble. I ended up having to rush to the bathroom there and it was obvious my stomach was distended by the time we left. I felt even more shame that I could not hide it.

I’ve never been one who is ashamed of my cochlear implants, I know a lot of people like to hide them, but I like for people to understand that I have hearing loss, because I do get ashamed when I have trouble understanding people. I sit and “listen” to conversations, but I often don’t “hear” them, and I’m too ashamed to keep asking for people to repeat what they say. After you are told over and over that it’s not important, you start to believe it, so I don’t worry about it. Then I get more ashamed when I miss things that I needed to hear.

Yesterday I had a very bad day. I woke in so much pain, but more than that when I’d stand I would see stars and I’d start to black out. I asked Stuart if he could work from home, but before he could answer I told him no, I’d be okay, because I was way too ashamed that I needed him. I was not safe, but I was too ashamed to admit that. Last night was the first time I told him how I felt. Now he is afraid he has done something to make me feel ashamed, and I feel shame that I’ve made him feel this way. I’ve explained to him that it’s complicated.

I’m just coming to terms with these feelings. I’ve tried to put a label on this before and called it guilt, but that wasn’t right, it’s shame. Guilt is feeling that you’ve done something bad. Shame is feeling that you are something bad. So, yes I feel guilty about asking him to work from home because I don’t want to take him away from work (doing something bad), but I also feel shame about it because I am ill and have to ask in the first place (am something bad).

Do you have these feelings? This will be a major discussion coming up with my therapist. Shame is not a healthy emotion, this is something we need to battle sooner rather than later.

Relief. The Importance of Keeping a Medication Diary

Tucson night sky

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve been battling a severe migraine flare since April 20th, I’m so happy to share that I’m finally back to my baseline for my migraines and my rescue medications are once again working so I’m having sweet, sweet relief!! How did this come about? Well let me tell you, this was an ordeal! And it could probably have been sorted sooner if I had noticed something earlier, in the end, I’m glad I wrote about when I started new medications here.

One of the first things I did when all of this started was try to figure out if I anything had changed, had I started a new medication, was I eating differently, sleeping differently….anything? Well I had started Emgality, a migraine preventative, but I started it a month before this started and I was insured that it would not cause migraines. I had also started Viibryd, an antidepressant, but I (thought) I started it in March. Finally after my hospital stay in June, I went through my blog posts and found this post on April 27th that said I started an antidepressant the week before. https://picnicwithants.com/2019/04/27/little-update-from-travels-to-depression/ That was the week the intractable migraine started. The post also talks about how much better my migraines were in March after I started Emgality on February 28th. Ding! Ding! Ding! Could it be that this drug was contributing to this migraine flare? I was going to find out! I looked up the side effects for Viibryd and sure enough, one of the common side effects is “headache” (15%) and one of the lesser side effects is “migraine”. I put a call in to my psychiatrist and a message in to my migraine doctor. Wouldn’t you know it, my psychiatrist was out of the country! Ha! Glad to know my doctors had a good time traveling this summer! So, everyone knows what I did with my migraine doctor, if you missed it, you can check out my post on SPG Blocks here, but keep in mind that I was still on the Viibryd at the time. I got a message from my psychiatrist PA and they said that migraine wasn’t a side effect of Viibryd (Can you see me rolling my eyes?? I read the prescribing information handout that comes from the manufacturer, where did she get her information?) In the call I’d also asked about a couple of other antidepressants that are used at migraine preventatives to see what they thought, I was told that they didn’t go with Viibryd. Umm, I’m not going to stay on Viibryd! But she couldn’t seem to understand that. I can’t say it is all her fault, the front office there is awful! I love my psychiatrist, but it is horrible to try to get messages through, so I decided to slowly taper off of it by myself, and just wait for my appointment which is next week to discuss the rest. And guess what?! After being totally off Viibryd for about a week my migraines dropped to about my baseline, or below.

Since my birthday, I’ve taken a rescue medication once! Don’t get me wrong, I have had more than one migraine, but they haven’t been severe and I haven’t felt the need to take medication for them. At the first sign of a migraine I’ve been taking 500mg of Ginger and it has been helping (this is a great article about the efficacy of ginger in helping migraines). As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t take rescue meds more than 2 days a week, so unless a migraine is bad I normally don’t take it since I often have migraines an average of 5 – 6 days a week. I save those 2 days for days I have something planned, or days when it is very severe.

I just noticed that today is the 15th and I haven’t taken migraine meds since the 5th! Wow! Perhaps the Emgality is doing something too? I’m really thinking that the Viibryd was messing me up big time. And so far I haven’t noticed my moods dropping since I’ve been off of it. You know, I’ve been fighting a migraine today, but I think I’m going to take something for it. This is great! Maybe I won’t have to save my medication for worse days? Do I dare hope?

To close I’d just like to say that this has taught me to always mark on my calendar when I start and stop medications, and pay close attention to how my body changes. I really thought I was on top of these things, but obviously it can slip by you, especially during busy times and times of high stress. If I had been able to put together that this had been a side effect earlier I might not have suffered for so long.

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!