Better. Functional Medicine and a Visit from a Friend.

On April the 18th I saw a Functional Medicine practitioner.  It was interesting.

She asked me a lot of questions, a thorough medical history, a short exam….it was a long visit.  But tell me, why do providers send you the information to fill out before you get there if they aren’t going to look at it until you are sitting in the office.  I feel like that’s a waste of time.  Me just sitting there while they read the information they’ve had for days.  Of course, I don’t feel they should do a lot of work when I’m not there, they don’t get paid extra, but being prepared would be nicet.

We talked quite a while.  She thinks I have an autoimmune disease, just like other doctors do, they think they just don’t have a test for it.  I don’t really see what difference it makes to know if I have an autoimmune disease or not.  There isn’t a one stop treatment for those diseases.  Mostly I see doctors giving those with autoimmune steroids.  Something I can’t take.

She wants me to get some blood tests done.  One for allergies, one for genetics, and one for….oh golly, I don’t remember what the other one was for.  My insurance doesn’t pay for any of this.  It’s expensive.  I haven’t gotten them done yet.  I was waiting on my insurance to see if they pay for anything, and now I’m waiting on my ride.  It’s a little difficult when you depend on someone else to drive you places, and that person works full time.  Stuart doesn’t mind taking me, but his time is limited.  We’ll get there.

We talked about my migraines, she is hoping to find a trigger with the tests.  She suggested Magnesium Threonate (see the image above, I got mine from Amazon)and turmeric for the pain.  I started them within a couple of days and boy has it made a difference.  I’ve had days without migraines.  That’s HUGE!  I have that base line headache all the time, it’s been there most of my life, but the migraine on top of that has left me for a few days at a time.  I’m shocked at how much this has helped me.  Shocked!  Why hadn’t my migraine specialists suggested this in the past.  It really bothers me that I may have been helped years ago, if only someone would have suggested the right form of magnesium.  Heck, I never had a doctor suggest magnesium at all.  I started taking it because I read about it.  But I didn’t know there were different kinds and I couldn’t tolerate the kind I was taking.  I’m just so grateful for the relief.

I’ll go back to the functional medicine practitioner after I get the blood tests done.

me and kym

This week a very good friend of mine came for a visit.  It was so nice to see her.  She lives on the opposite side of the country from me, our visits are rare, and precious.  It was so nice to have a real friend come and spend time with us.

Kym and I went shopping.  I went out without Stuart for the first time in over 5 years.  It was liberating, but it was also a little scary.  However, Kym is one of the most level headed people I know and I knew she would not freak out if something happened.  She did something so right.  At one point I felt I needed to go home and I said so, she just said, “Okay, let’s go.”  She didn’t freak out and ask me countless times if I was okay.  She trusted me to tell her if things were getting  bad.  I admit though that I may have pushed it further but I was a little scared and tired.  It was a very good shopping trip.  No I didn’t go crazy with the spending, but I did find a couple of cute things that fit.  (I’ve lost a lot of weight recently, so I need clothes that actually fit me now.  Kym is a good person to shop with.

Vertigo has been kind to me recently.  I’ve had very little spinning, and when I do it is just a slight spin, nothing to worry about.  I did fall last week, and hurt my back a little, but really it’s nothing to be concerned about.  If things go as well as they have been I won’t have anything to write about.  LOL

Feeling Stuck

I’ve been trying to write for a long time, but the words just haven’t come.  There are a couple of topics I want to write about, but they are sensitive, and they may offend some people who read my blog.  It’s a true dilemma.  I want to be true to myself and my readers, but I don’t want to hurt anyone.  So I feel stuck.

My brain is also just not working like it used to, I’m thinking that having a moderate to severe headache for almost 2 years has something to do with that.  They’ve just been getting worse.  I had another visit to the migraine doctor and she changed up the Diamox; she had to, it was driving me crazy with all the side effects and I wasn’t going to take it anymore.  She put me on Methazolamide.  It’s in the same family as Diamox but it is supposed to be more easily tolerated.  So far I am tolerating it, but it is doing nothing for my headaches.  I feel like she doesn’t take me seriously since most of my migraines are moderate in intensity.  A moderate headache  (between a 4 and 6 on the 0 – 10 scale) every day can be pretty debilitating.  At least I do have a few hours here and there where my headache is mild, but it’s still there, all the time.  My brain is mush.

I started to order supplements that are supposed to help with migraines, but I’m seeing the functional medicine doctor next week, I’m sure they will suggest supplements.  So, it will wait until the 18th.  I’m excited about going to the Functional Medicine doctor.  I’ll write all about it after my visit.  I was supposed to go a while back but we thought we might be moving and didn’t want to get started with another doctor.  But it looks like we’ll be here for a while, so let’s get started.

I was reading on the American Migraine Foundation site and the University of Maryland site about supplements that help with migraines. (be sure to check out those sites for information on supplements for migraines)  I’ve already tried looking for triggers in foods and everything else I can think of.  The only things that really trigger a headache for me is the weather, and strong smells.  Sometimes bright lights can do it.  So I’m searching for alternative treatments.  I’ve tried acupuncture and chiropractic, they didn’t work for me.  I know that magnesium can help with migraines but I found it caused diarrhea.  My migraine doctor suggested a different type of magnesium that is easier to absorb, (magnesium glycinate or gluconate).  Who knew there were so many different types of magnesium, I counted 7 yesterday when I was researching it.  How is one supposed to know what you need?

I decided to wait on starting the new magnesium until I found out if this medicine she gave me worked.  (I already take magnesium, but it’s the kind that upsets your tummy so I don’t think I’m taking a therapeutic dose.)  She still says to give this new medication a month at the highest dose.  I hate to say it, but I’m ready to look for something else.  I just don’t think the medications is going to help, so far my headaches have been more severe.  I’ve been on the medication for about a month now, I’ve been on the highest dose for a week now.  It’s a very hard medicine for me to keep up with .  I have to take it 3 times a day.  It’s the only med that I need to take in the middle of the day and I can’t remember it.  (I haven’t missed a dose, I just don’t feel that I’ve timed it out well) I installed a timer on my phone, hopefully that will help, as long as my phone is close enough to hear.  Great thing about this medication, it has greatly reduced my appetite.  I’m losing weight again, finally, after so much trying.  I’m very excited about this.  Now if I can keep it off when I go off the medication.

The thought of adding more supplements or medications to my regime is overwhelming.  I take so many pills, surely I don’t need all of them.  But I’m not one to just go off of medications.  I will go over all of them with the Functional Medicine doctor and we will see what he has to say.

“Functional Medicine is the deepest and most powerful approach to prevention and reversal of disease that I have encountered. It systematically discovers and addresses the root causes of disease and uses sophisticated treatments that lead to dramatically improved outcomes”  ~ Robert Sheeler MD, Editor Emeritus, Mayo Clinic Heath Letter

If you are curious about where I’m going, then please check it out.  Optimal Health Medicine Center

Since I’m giving an update on me I may as well tell you about my vertigo.  I’ve been having a lot of short spurts of vertigo.  It may be migraine related instead of Meniere’s, but it is really hard to tell at this stage.  I’ve fallen twice in the past 2 weeks.  Luckily I remember to just crumple myself on the floor instead of falling hard.  Both times I went down on my artificial hip.  Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself at all.  Think I need to use my walker at home more often.

So, I’ve been rambling.  At least I’m writing, right?  Today I just had to get out what has been going on recently.  Perhaps soon I’ll write about the other things on my mind.  I really want to keep my blog open and honest and not writing about these things that are going on in my life, feels dishonest.  Perhaps I’ll write about easier things first.  maybe.

Thank you all for following me.  I’m glad you like Mindfulness Monday.  I’m going to try to get out more posts, I promise.

What would you do?  If you thought a topic might cause some upheaval, would you still write about it?  It isn’t anything that everyone in my family doesn’t know about, they just don’t believe it all.  Then the other topic is about medical marijuana….since it isn’t legal in my state, I’m not sure I should write about it.

 

Oh Poop! Side effects are they worth it?

image from clipartfest.com

On January 25th I wrote about A Visit to the Migraine Doctor, in it I mentioned that my doctor was putting me on a new drug.  Diamox.  I haven’t been tolerating this medication very well.  I haven’t been posting as much as usual, because of some of the side effects.

After being put on this medication I started having extreme GI distress.  I had acid reflux, nausea, and diarrhea.  These became increasingly worse.  The acid reflux and nausea made it impossible to get a good night’s sleep.  The diarrhea was worse, there were times I didn’t make it to the bathroom.  I had no warning.  As I started a new diet about the time I was put on Diamox I thought the GI distress was caused by the diet.  I was wrong.  I ceased the diet and still the GI distress continued.

My cognitive dysfunction has been much worse than normal.  This is the main reason I haven’t been writing.  I just haven’t been able to think straight enough to process my thoughts.

There are times you have to decide if a medication’s benefits out weigh the side effects, as this medication did not reduce my headaches (if anything they have been worse) I’d say it’s not worth it.  So I’m officially off this medication now.  I don’t know how long it will take for me to get back in the grove of things here, but I’m happy things are getting back to my normal.

There are medications that cause minor side effects and I’ve decided to stay on them because they were helping more than the side effects were causing me trouble.  For example, Topamax changed my taste of certain foods.  This was minor when it helped my headaches.  (Unfortunately it isn’t helping my headaches like it used to, so we are working hard to find a new one that does.)

Until we can find a new drug that helps my headaches I’m stuck.  When I have a migraine, which is most of the time, I can’t think straight.  When I was on Diamox my thinking was even more muddled.  Now that I’m off it, I hope some of my cognitive function is returning.  I always have a bit of cognition problems due to Migraines and Meniere’s.  Speaking of cognitive disfunction, I am having a hard time writing this post.  I keep reading it over and over and forget what I just read.  I’ve been trying hard to keep up with other’s blogs but my memory is not working as it should, so I’m not absorbing the information a lot of the time.  I’m confused.  I can’t think straight, even more than normal.  I stopped Diamox a couple of weeks ago, I’m feeling much better, but my brain is still catching up, I think.

You must decide for yourself if the side effects of a medication is worth the benefits.  Of course, this drug was not worth it, as it didn’t have any benefits.  However, even if it had been beneficial I feel the side effects would not have been worth it.  Trade less migraines for extreme GI issues and brain fog?  I can’t do it.

Are there medications you are having side effects from but you still feel it’s worth taking?

Have you stopped a drug because of side effects even if it helps?

 

A visit to the Migraine Doctor

headache

ocular migraine, by w. holcombe

You may recall from my last visit to the migraine doc  (a neurologist who specializes in headaches) that she’s tried just about everything and suggested that I look into studies.  Well, she hasn’t given up.

I saw her last week and it was a long visit.  I am always impressed when I go there that she never seems to be in a hurry.  I never feel like she is rushed to get to the next patient.  It’s amazing really, this is a doctor who is backed up over 3 months for an appointment, you know she’s busy.  During our visit, I was having slow vertigo, which made it difficult for me to follow everything she was saying.  I’m still asking Stuart some things, unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have much of a memory.  He must have been worried about me.  I did understand most of the visit, there are just little things I remember her saying that I wish I remembered.  Like she said that Melatonin was good for something other than sleep, but we can’t remember what…….well I just looked it up and it can help with a bunch of things, including migraines.  Who knew?  I don’t know if that’s what she said, but I’ll keep taking it.  It helps fall asleep anyway.

She is concerned that some of my migraines may be caused because my CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid) is too high again.  I have fluctuating CSF, it tends to run high.  The migraine medications that I’m on help keep it lowered.  She felt that we need to put me on a drug that will increase this effect.  So I was taken off Topamax and put on Diamox.  I’ve been on Diamox  before, my CSF pressure did not remain stable on it either, we’ll see what happens this time.

She did look in my eyes, it was difficult because I had a bit of nystagmus going on at the time so my eyes were jumping, but she saw that it was bulging a little bit back there, a sure sign that my pressure is up.

The weird things is, if I have high CSF I should have a worse headache when I lie down.  Sometimes I have a bad headache when I wake up but often I don’t.  When I have a bad headache, it doesn’t get better when I lie down.  hmmmm.  Makes me wonder.  But then there’s the eye thing, she did say it was a slight bulge.  Well I’m just not convinced and I don’t want this drug to make my pressure go too low.  It’s a very strong diuretic.  I’m peeing a lot, but my body will get used to it I’m sure.  I’m a little more light headed, but that could just be me, but it could be the drug.   I feel very confused, this one has bothered me a lot, but it says it will go away shortly.  If it doesn’t I won’t be on this drug long.  I do not like being so forgetful.   I was angry at Stuart yesterday and couldn’t remember why!!  I don’t get angry at him often, you’d think I’d remember why I was mad at him.  I think this drug is making me grumpy, or maybe that’s just me.  I also think it’s reducing my appetite, as least that would be a good thing.

To sum up, I’m on a new drug (or back on an old drug).  I’m not sure about it.  I’m keeping an open mind though.  I’m keeping a journal of my headaches as always, I’m adding in other side effects I’m feeling and paying close attention to all.  I go back to the migraine doc in 2 months.

I can only say: Chronic migraines and New Daily Persistent Headaches suck.

A Day in my life…..

During my last post I told how I planned to do some journal posts during the month of January.  I planned on these being open and honest reviews of my days, then I realized I wasn’t totally honest while writing my last journal entry.  I talked about the good things, the things I accomplished that day, but I glossed over the fact that I had a vertigo attack.  I just slightly mentioned it, instead of saying how horrible it was.  How it stopped me dead in my tracks.  How I was stuck in a chair for over 2 hours not being able to focus on anything and being so upset that the day was ruined.  (as you know now I decided to risk things and go out anyway, very unlike what I normally do, normally I stick very close to home after having a vertigo attack, but I was determined)  During the attack I was scared.  It is a very tough thing to deal with.  After the attack, I’was exhausted and had to rest for a while before I could do anything else.  Everything I did I pushed through.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good day, it did turn out to be a very good day.  I simply glossed over the rough parts when I was journaling about it.

Well, day before yesterday was a good day.  Yesterday I paid for it, but I couldn’t give in and just rest all day, I had my yearly physical I had to go to.  I ached all over and just wanted to stay in bed all day, but I had to go to the doctor and have her poke me a bit and talk about my blood work.  I hate going for my physical, often they find something else wrong, who wants to go find out something else is wrong?  This time I didn’t find out anything else is wrong.  Yay.  My cholesterol is still high.  The good cholesterol is in good shape, but the bad and total are not in good shape and my triglycerides are too high, as usual.  We discussed my diet.  First she told me that I’ve lost weight.  SIX pounds!  Woot!  Yes I’m being sarcastic.  She was trying to be supportive, but really, 6 pounds in a year, is not good. (She had no idea I’d been trying to lose around 40lbs the whole year.)  So we discussed how I could get my weight down and my cholesterol in better shape.  I have a friend who has been on the Ketogenic diet for a while, so I asked about that before she suggested anything and she said it was a good diet for what I need.  She said it is good for people who have to be more sedentary.  The Ketogenic diet is very low in carbs and high in fat.  This is very different than I am used to eating.  I don’t go crazy with carbs usually, so I don’t think that is going to be too big of an issue, however increasing the fat is going to be odd.  It’s just so counterintuitive to what I’ve always done.  As soon as I can wrap my head around this and all the sweets from the holidays are out of the house, I’ll start the diet.  wish me luck.

Today I’m still achey.  I’ve had a migraine all day.  I had an appointment with my therapist this morning.  That’s going well, I think.  Some days I wonder why I’m spending so much money to just sit in there and talk, am I really that hard up for friends?  By that I mean that on some days I feel like all we talk about is stuff you’d talk about with your girlfriend.  Like, I found out who cuts her hair….now my hair finally has a good cut!  But if I think about it, most everything we talk about comes around to something that could benefit me in the long run.  So it’s all good.

20161230_202846

On the way home today we stopped off to buy more yarn.  Yes, I’m really enjoying my Knifty Knitter, so much so I think I’m going to finish my first scarf in a week….or less.  I’m thrilled that when I’m all achey and feel cruddy I can still sit and “knit”.  I feel productive.  I’ve always wanted to make baby blankets for charity, now I might be able to do that.  I’m looking into it.

Right now everything is taking much longer than it should.  But that’s normal for me.  Right now I’m going on 2 hours for writing this post, and I know it will go longer.   I keep wording things wrong, can’t think of words, can’t spell, or I simply get stuck.  At this moment I hurt too much to think and I don’t want to try any more….it’s just too hard.

It’s very unfortunate that cannibus is illegal in most states.  I’ve used it to help me in the past, but it is illegal in my state.  I’ve tried cannibus infused coconut oil to help with the pain and sleep, it is amazing for that.  I’ve used it via a vape pen during a vertigo attack and it stopped me from throwing up and slowed the vertigo.  What I wouldn’t give for it to be legal.  I’m having a hard time recently with vertigo and pain, it just makes me think about this more and more.

I think that’s all for my journal entry today.  I didn’t mention that I had a vertigo attack yesterday and a small one today, but if I mentioned every one we would be talking about vertigo a lot.  However, I think I should mention it every time during these journal entries to bring attention to how often I really do have vertigo.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Years Eve celebration!!

Tomorrow in my mother’s  birthday.  It’s always a bittersweet day for me.  I celebrate the day of her birth, but I’m sad she is no longer with us to celebrate.  It’s always an emotional way to start the year.

 

#HAWMC Day 28 – 5 Challenges & 5 Victories

Today is Day 28 of #HAWMC (WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Monthly Challenge).  The prompt today is:

5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories.
Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus.
Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

5 Challenges5 most difficult parts of my health focus:

fear

  1. FEAR- My number one challenge is Fear.  I’m afraid of the vertigo.  Of course I’m afraid when I’m having it, but I’m constantly afraid I will have it even when I’m not.  I’m afraid of the pain, the migraine pain, the arthritis pain, all of the pain.  I’m afraid the pain will get worse and I won’t have any way to manage it.  I’m working through some stuff in my past and I’m afraid of what I’ll find out.  I’m afraid of more than I like to admit, but I’m working hard to be less afraid.
  2. Finding Doctors – I’ve had a difficult time finding doctors that treat Meniere’s Disease.  Even if they say they do, they often have little knowledge of the disease.  It’s also difficult to find a doctor who knows a lot about migraines.  It has been difficult to find good doctors to treat me.  In each field I’ve felt I’ve found a good doctor, only to be hit with the “I can’t do anything else” line soon.  It is a definite challenge to find a good doctor.
  3. Freedom taken away – Isolation, is a big challenge.  Since I can’t drive, I have to depend on my husband to get me out of the house, this is a difficult thing sometimes.  He works hard and when he is at home sometimes he has things to do here, or he just wants to relax, he doesn’t need to be taking me out all the time.  Plus I have to get over my fear of having vertigo in public before I can go out at all.   My freedom isn’t just taken away because I can’t go out, it’s also taken away at home.  Because of my illness doing certain things are not only difficult, they can be dangerous.  I can no longer cook because it’s dangerous.  I can’t take a bath or shower by myself, because it’s too dangerous.  It’s very hard for me to do any housework, sometimes because of the danger, sometimes because of the fatigue.
  4. Friends – It is a challenge to keep friends, and to make new friends.  Many of the friends I had before I became ill are not in my life as much now.  (various reasons, but let’s face it, I’m a different person.)  Making new friends is a huge challenge.  (I wrote a post about this, Making Friends?.
  5. Food – Food has been a challenge for a long time.  I have had GI (Gastrointestinal) issues for as long as I can remember.  Then I found out that I have Fructose Malabsorption, IBS, and a wheat allergy.  I have a specific diet I must follow so I won’t get sick.  This makes it hard for me to eat out, or to travel.  It’s hard to explain to people, “oh, I’m sorry I can’t eat that lovely meal you prepared”  It used to be hard to explain why I can’t eat wheat, now it’s really hard explaining why I can’t eat onions, apples, and all kinds of things.

5 small victories – list of 5 little, good things that keep you going.

wedding-love

  1. Successful marriage – This isn’t a small thing, this is a HUGE thing, but it’s what helps keep me going.  My husband and I both agree when we think about it we don’t feel that we work hard on our marriage, it’s just something that comes natural, but that isn’t exactly true.  We do work hard, it’s just something we want to do, so it doesn’t seem like work.  When I first started losing my independence it was very hard on our relationship.  I shut him out and he didn’t know how to talk to me.  We decided to see a therapist.  It was there that we learned to communicate again, and we both have a better understanding of how to deal with my illnesses.  If I could give one bit of advice to any couple going through one partner becoming ill, it would be to get a therapist. It might just make your marriage better.  I know mine is.
  2. Days I can deal with vertigo alone – this is a big victory for me.  When I start to have vertigo I panic because I never know how bad it will be.  See number 1 under challenges, and you will know, I’m afraid!  So going through a vertigo attack without help is a huge victory for me.  I’ve done it a few times, where I’ll have vertigo when hubby is at work and I don’t callv him home.  This doesn’t happen often, so this is a small victory, but it’s a big victory really, every time it happens.
  3. Making new friends – I’ve made many new friends on line.  I have a hard time meeting new people in person, but I’ve found that I can meet some wonderful people on line.  I’ve made some wonderful friends through my blog.  I have one friend that I met through my blog about 7 years ago now, our friendship has transcended the blogosphere.  We email, text, and send packages to each other.  We have called each other, but I can’t really talk on the phone.  One day I hope to meet her.  I think this is a pretty big victory, to go from losing friends to gaining such a deep friendship with someone I’ve never met in person.
  4. Getting out of the house – There are days I can fight through the fear and get out of the house with minimal distress.  When I’m having a good day we can go out and do normal things.  Those times are small victories, they get me through until the next time.  They remind me that I can do it.
  5. Diet – Eating my restrictive diet has made it so I can eat with minimal to no GI distress.  It may be challenging to eat this diet, but I think it’s a small victory, actually a big victory, to be able to eat without GI distress.

 

I wrote a similar post to this one here.

I’m participating in WEGO’s #HAWMC, if you’d like to read more posts from today please search for #HAWMC and check out WEGO’s Facebook page.  Don’t forget to Like Picnic With Ant’s Facebook Page too.  🙂

If you would like to share your story on Picnic with Ants, contact me through the contact form on my About Me – Contact Me Page.

#HAWMC Day 24 – Focus

Today is Day 24 of #HAWMC (WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Monthly Challenge).  The prompt today is:

Choose 3 images that represent your health focus.
Share the images in a post and explain why you chose each of them.

I don’t really know what they mean by “health focus” so I’m going to  chose images that represent my illnesses or what I focus on in terms of my health.

vertigo-caught-in-motion

I took this photo during a vertigo attack.  I was starting to take a photo of something and suddenly a vertigo attack started and this was what I got.  To me this represents my vestibular illnesses.

headache-2

This manipulated photo of me represents the pain and aura of my migraines.  I use this with other manipulated photos to show my doctors my level of pain.

hope-for-dr-gray

I created this for one of my doctors because she gave me hope when I didn’t think I had any left.  Now I realize there is always hope, no matter what.  This graphic represents that hope.

I’m participating in WEGO’s #HAWMC, if you’d like to read more posts from today please search for #HAWMC and check out WEGO’s Facebook page.  Don’t forget to Like Picnic With Ant’s Facebook Page too.  🙂

If you would like to share your story on Picnic with Ants, contact me through the contact form on my About Me – Contact Me Page.

 

*all images on Picnic with Ants are created and owned by Wendy Holcombe unless otherwise noted.