Yes, you can have a migraine for over 2 years.

I haven’t been here in a long time, the pain hasn’t allowed it. It was much easier to blog when I was just dealing with Meniere’s, at least I had breaks. Yes, I had migraines then, but not like this. Nothing like this. And I’m not dismissing Meniere’s, it has been hell. I’m so very grateful that it’s soooo much better even the recent spell I had was nothing like before. I rarely have full rotational vertigo. I do get the vertigo that feels like you are moving and you aren’t, kind of like walking on a boat, but there’s no boat, no water. Occasionally I’ll get the drops, as I call it; it feels as if I stepped into an open elevator shaft and just keep falling. Luckily, that doesn’t last too long. I just hug the floor and keep chanting “I’m not falling”.

I veered off course there a bit. This post was supposed to be an update on my migraine situation, and just life in general.

Migraines have been extremely high. My number scale has completely changed, I didn’t realize that migraine pain could get as high as it has. I also don’t think I really understood fatigue until recently. I am so tired all the time. I fall asleep during the day. When I walk, I feel like I have to push through the air, as if the air was partially solid. That sounds weird, but that’s what it’s like. I fought it for a while, but lately I just sleep when I can; if I’m sleeping I’m not aware of the pain (most of the time).

My doctor called in a “migraine cocktail”, I have to go to an infusion clinic to get it on Friday. It can’t be soon enough for me. I don’t know what’s in it, I guess I’ll find out once I’m there. Maybe it will work, I’ve had migraine cocktails before, but different places combine different drugs and call it the same thing. If it doesn’t work, I hope they can admit me and do something to break this cycle, it’s been over two years now. If it breaks then maybe the preventatives will work, I don’t think they can really do their job when you don’t have a break. Maybe that’s not true, but it’s my belief.

Dad is doing better. I don’t know it I wrote about the bleed he had in his stomach. They put him on blood thinners because of his heart, then he had the bleed and ended up in the hospital for about a week. He still looks pale to me, he is still anemic. He hasn’t eaten red meat in many years, not the doctors told him to eat it. It’s quite funny to me, he stopped eating it because of his heart, not he needs to eat it. If he’d eat spinach and legumes he’d get more iron than eating red meat, but who listens to me? Next week he gets a device called The Watchman inserted in his heart, it stops blood clots from forming in the heart so he can get off blood thinners.

Well the computer is getting to me, so I will close for now.

I want to apologize to everyone who has emailed or texted me, I just haven’t felt up to answering a lot of things. I also haven’t felt up to looking at and reading blogs, some I have read, but I haven’t been able to comment. Being on the computer for long is crippling.

So I will sign off for now.

Hopefully I can come back soon.

Christmas + Chronic Illness + COVID = X

After being told, erroneously, that this would be my father-in-law’s last Christmas we decided to brave things and try to create as many memories with him as possible. That included having family gatherings.

We all got together for Thanksgiving, during which I found out that 3 people in that group are not vaccinated. I tried to be as careful as I could, but I felt the whole day was irresponsible, and scary.

Now we know that what’s wrong with Dad’s heart will most likely not shorten his life span, we aren’t feeling the need to get us all together again. At first I thought we still should, after all he’s 84, who knows….who knows about any of us really. But now I’m thinking, do we want our memories to be about all of us having COVID? I don’t think so.

I just got back from my physical and my doctor told me that we need to celebrate the best we can, and still be cautious. He told me to stay away from unvaccinated people, especially indoors. The hospitals here are at near capacity. It’s bad.

So a family Christmas is out this year, and I’m okay with that.

I saw a show the other day where a child was trying to share what Christmas meant to an alien. (Dreamworks Home For the Holidays on Netflix) As the story went on the alien tried to share his joy with his fellow aliens, but they didn’t get it and they were really just making a big mess. (much like all the garbage created by Christmas now) Finally the girl realized, Christmas isn’t about all the things, or family, or gatherings, or any of that….Christmas is a feeling. It’s the feeling of magic, kindness, giving, love, joy…..it’s the feeling of having goodness you can believe in.

I like that.

There are so many celebrations this time of year, I kind of put them all under the umbrella of Christmas, it seems others do too.

I want to send glad tidings to you all, no matter how you celebrate the holidays…or don’t, that’s okay too.

Have the best celebrations you can, while still being careful out there.

This year, we’ll do much the same as we always do.

Rainbow lights strung on a wall in a tree shape, with a star on top.

We have our unconventional tree, that includes everyone. (that’s why it has a rainbow glow) We will still watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve while eating Chinese take-out. Still putting together our Peanuts Christmas puzzle and build our various Lego Christmas things (train, tree, Santa….). That should keep us busy! Maybe I’ll even make cookies!

When you are celebrating the holidays remember, it’s not about getting together with family, the gatherings, or any of the preconceived notions that have been pushed down our throats. (Could there possibly be any more romantic Christmas shows?) The holidays are about the feelings. They are about caring for each other, those you know and those you don’t. It’s about giving, not receiving…but I admit receiving that magic is pretty darn special. Let the magic shine in you. The other day while S was working I closed myself off in the studio, played Christmas music and sang at the top of my lungs! I worked on little art projects and just had a magical day, all by myself. It was actually the most magical feeling. Unfortunately I think I’ll have Christmas music stuck in my head until July! Oy Vey!

Please remember that everyone is going through something we don’t see, be kind, reach out if needed.

The holidays is a time when so many are lonely, and depressed. They can’t feel the magic, they can only see how they are left out of it all. Some are sick, poor, or simply alone. If you are feeling this way, please reach out. If you notice anyone feeling this way, or suspect it, reach out. Sometimes simply letting someone know you care and they aren’t alone is enough to help them through this tough time.

Merry Christmas to all!! And to all a Good Night!!

**Little Mini-Me update….the migraine is still here. I had my physical yesterday and my bloodwork looks great! My BP is great! I still hate having High BP disorder in my records, but oh well, at least it seems to be down now….maybe. I saw the retina specialist last week and he said my BP had to have spiked sometime since I saw him last because the vein leaked again. I noticed my vision was worse, but thought it was just that it wasn’t going to get better, not that it was actually worse…that didn’t make much sense did it? So I got another shot in my eye, I’m seeing better! Hope it stays that way, I go back in a few months. I saw the dentist this week, it had been a while…before lockdown….things weren’t horrible, but not as great as I would have liked. I need to see a TMJ specialist because I’m grinding my teeth and she thinks it might be contributing to my migraines. I also have a Tilt Table test set up for the 28th, this is at the clinic in Phoenix. I realize this is a stream of information, I hope it makes sense. Oh, found out yesterday that my therapist is retiring in March. I’m sad about that. I feel like I’m losing a good friend.

I missed you too much, going to the headache clinic.

Okay, so I couldn’t stay away.

I don’t know how much I will be posting, but I hope you will bare with me when I’m silent for long stretches. Such is the live with chronic illnesses and pain.

If you’d like to know more about what’s been going on with me here’s where I’ve been, sporadically, https://dizzychickblog.wordpress.com/

I have great news! At least I hope it is.

Headache guide by W. Holcombe

I’m leaving Saturday for the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. They are very well known for helping headache patients who are complicated. I had a virtual appointment with Dr. Merle Diamond, she is the daughter of the founder. She was very encouraging. She said we’ll start with a cocktail infusion and if that doesn’t work, she will try something else. I have no idea when I’ll be home. The average stay is 7-10 days, it could be a little less, or more.

When I had my virtual visit with Dr. Diamond she asked when I wanted to come and I said “as soon as possible”, expecting to have to wait for a long time, she said “how about tomorrow?”. Oh my! She really wanted to get me in there fast to get started helping. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go immediately, I have some other appointments that I had to take care of before leaving. Like getting more trigger point injections, I sure don’t want to have the severe nerve pain while I’m there.

They do much more than just medication treatments, I’ll also be working on mindfulness relaxation, nutrition (I have to eat a low tyramine diet while there, and can have no outside food), and other modalities if they think it’s necessary. For example they also do physical therapy, massage…ect.

One more thing, Stuart gets to stay with me. They have the room set up for a companion. So we don’t even have to pay for a hotel room. I couldn’t get any luckier about this trip. Oh, yes I could, since I’ve already hit my maximum out of pocket this isn’t going to cost us anything. Just the plane tickets and a hotel for extra days we are hoping we can spend so we can visit friends out there. And hopefully visit the Art Institute of Chicago, I’ve always wanted to go there. If they are actually open to visitors with the increase of covid cases. Hmmm, will I feel comfortable going there? Oh my! I just thought of that.

I’m excited to go, and also way stressed out . There is so much to do this week to get ready. Luckily Stuart is very good at planning. He has lists for so much. I am a list maker too, but not to the extent he is. It makes me laugh sometimes.

More news about me. I had a urine test to check on my adrenal function and we found that the hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is high. I then had to do a 24 hour urine test, I turned it in yesterday. When I turned it in the lady said, “This is just 24 hours?” Hahaha, I pee a lot! The test will determine if I have a tumor. Tumors on your adrenals are normally benign so I’m not worried about it. Of course if I have one they will remove it. There is also a possibility that it’s high simply because I’ve been under so much stress, especially from pain, for so long I’m stuck in the fight or flight mode. And it could be caused by a medication I’ve been on, (Fetzima) that I’m tapering off of now. If so the relaxation techniques I’m going to learn will help, and I’ll probably need medication at least for a while. This could explain the increase in my symptoms, the sudden high blood pressure, increased heart rate, high anxiety, prolonged migraine….among other things. I’m actually hoping that this is the reason., it could change everything.

I’m going to try to keep a diary of everything that happens at the headache clinic to share here. I hope it will be helpful to some people.

My headache specialist here, that I’m not fond of, actually suggested I go to a headache clinic because she is out of options, and this migraine has been going on way too long. She suggested Diamond or Jefferson, but when I messaged her to tell her I was going, she didn’t even respond. What is wrong with this woman? And why did it take her so long to suggest this? I’m so glad I’m getting a new doctor in November.

I have a virtual appointment with my psychiatrist in about an hour so she can see that I’m still doing well at the lower dose of Fetzima, so I can take it down even more. This is a very slow taper, it’s kind of frustrating, I really want to get off this as soon as possible to see if it may be the culprit. So I’m off to get ready for that, then I need to do more to get ready for the trip. So much to do and my symptoms are very high lately so it’s very hard to get things done. It’s amazing how we can push through so much. Plus, the anxiety about all this is driving me crazy. I know it’s mostly from the norepinephrine, but it doesn’t make it easier. I do so wish I could drive so I could get some things done while Stuart is working. This is really going to wear him out.

Oh, we are so lucky that our pet sitter is available to come stay with out babies during our trip. So he’s not only pet sitting, he’s house sitting. And he’s going to clean! He said he wants us to come back to a clean home. He’s going to get a big tip from me!

I hope you are as happy to be back here at Picnic With Ants as much as I am. I put so much into this site, I just couldn’t give up on it.

How are you all doing? Have you ever had to go to a specialty clinic? I’d love to hear about it.

Late Night Rambling

Me, manipulated in the #photolab app

It’s 1:29am and I can’t sleep. I hurt all over, and I’ve been having vertigo and migraines with all the symptoms that go with it.

I’m posting from my phone so who knows how this will turn out. I doubt I’ll be able to edit it very well. I apologise for errors ahead of time.

It’s been over 2 months now since Stuart got laid off, I’m not tired of him, but I do miss my private time. However, I’ve been having such an increase in symptoms it’s probably best that I’m not alone all that much.

I’m tired. So very tired.

I’ve had a non-stop migraine for almost two months now and I, at least partially, blame my doctor. I had a tele-health appointment with her the beginning of May, right when we were increasing my Spravato treatments back up to two a week and I had every reason to believe that my migraines would get better again. They didn’t, they got worse, and I have no rescue medication that works. I got in touch with her less than two weeks after my appointment to ask for help and she said I need another appointment, so I’ve been waiting two month! The soonest they could get me in was July 17th. I’m finally going to see her next Friday. Now I have a Status Migraine, that’s a bitch to treat. I don’t know if this would have happened anyway, but I feel if I’m in this kind of situation she needs to take care of her patient, so I’m searching for a new doctor. I’m tired of her never being available when I need her.

I had the freakiest, thing happen to me earlier. I was sitting on the toilet and it felt like the toilet started moving under me. Normally when I have vertigo it feels like I’m moving, or the whole room is swaying/rocking..ect. it has never felt like the seat under me is wiggling. Soon I did feel like I was moving, well, it felt like my brain was. It still does just a little, much more if I move my head. I’m so grateful I have an amazing husband who will help me off the toilet and to the bed when things like this happen.

When I got to the bed I could literally feel my brain trying to spin in my head. My eyes weren’t all the way spinning, my vision was a little off, but not like it can be. I rarely have that sensation any more, thank goodness, it’s really hard not to throw up when you see the world spinning around you. It’s hard enough as it is. Right now, When I move my head it feel as if my brain rotates and moves around in my head. My internal gyroscope doesn’t work. My vision spins for a few seconds, and I can feel bile coming up my throat. The only hope for sleep is to lie perfectly still and hope I don’t turn over in my sleep until this has passed.

Now it’s after 2am, I don’t know if the pain will allow me to sleep, but I’m going to try.

Doctor of Pain

PAIN drawing by W. Holcombe

We have a little joke in our house about how the Pain Clinic sounds like it’s a place where you are going to get pain, a little S&M anyone? It should be called the Pain Relief Clinic don’t you think?

My migraine doctor (a neurologist that specializes in headache disorders) said she was sending me to a pain specialist for my neck pain; you can understand my confusion when I ended up at a Spine and Sports Medicine Center. I’ve been to a sports medicine center before and it was filled with lots of sweaty people doing exercises and recovering from surgery. To say I was a bit wary of this appointment was an understatement.

The confusion ended once I talked to the doctor. This may be called a spine and sports medicine center, but it’s not like any sports medicine center I’ve been to before. Stuart actually said he wondered if they used that name because of the negative connotation association with pain clinics. I think it may also be because they mostly treat people with spine issues. But yeah, this was different.

They took a thorough history, that was very hard for me to go through, I kept breaking down when I was filling out the paperwork as I was realizing just how long I’ve been living in pain.

These are the things, that I know of, that are causing pain to my head, neck, and back area (this does not include pain in other areas). In 1973, at age 10, I broke my right arm and found out I had a bone tumor, that would end up with 5 more breaks, and a major surgery including a bone graft in 1978, leaving me with my right arm shorter than the left and recurring pain. May of 1974 I had my first migraine, two months later I woke with a headache that never went away. In 1991 I fractured my 7th cervical vertebra, and had a severe contusion to the back of my head (I now have arthritis in my neck). In 2016 I had akathesia as a side effect from a medication that has left lasting effects to my back. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m whining, really I’m not, it’s just the way it is.

After we talked about all my symptoms, the different types of pain, the numbness down my arm… and after we went through all the things I’ve tried to relieve my pain….PT, chiropractic, supplements, Botox, medications, acupuncture, massage….and how little they worked we discussed my next option, injections.

The first injection I’ll be getting is on Monday, it’s a corticosteroid injection to the right and between the C-7 and T-1 vertebra to address the nerves that run down my right arm. Every day I wake up with my right arm in severe pain and it has electrical sensations running down it, and my hand is weak. They decided to address that first. I’m very nervous about getting any steroid injections because of the risk of Avascular Necrosis. I had AVN in my left hip causing me to get a hip replacement, they believe it was caused from steroids. You can read more about that here. She said that most of the injections in the future would not be steroids, so hopefully this won’t do any harm. But what choice do I have? My quality of life is greatly diminished right now.

She sent me home with a prescription for a muscle relaxant and orders for an x-ray. Now I’m just waiting for Monday. I’m slightly nervous about this only because I was asked if I wanted sedation. Why would someone need sedation for this? They give you a local before the main injection. I’ve had major injections in my hips, and I’ve had lumbar punctures and patches in my spinal cord, I was never offered sedation for those. Am I wrong about how bad this is going to be? I had an injection for pain in my neck when I fractured it many years ago, I didn’t have sedation then. I was given something to calm me and it made things a little hard actually because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Have any of you had these kind of injections? What was your experience?

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.

Playing Keep Away with Medication

I’m so fed up.

An article found in the American Council of Society and Health gives “A Brief History Of The Opioid Epidemic” it list what has transpired since the mid-90’s that gets us to the point we are now. Number 6 is the most important “Deaths from prescription opioids alone are rare”. Yet this is what has been attacked. People are killing themselves now because they can’t get their medication to help relieve their pain. I do acknowledge that opioids were over prescribed for a while, the article explained some of that reason. I remember getting prescriptions from multiple doctors, being told to fill them if I needed them. Often I didn’t, but I can see where that could fall into the wrong hands, and that was the biggest problem, they often ended up in the wrong hands. However, this does not mean you should stop prescribing, or drastically reducing, medication to those who DO NEED IT. People are now killing themselves because they have no hope of pain relief. That is a travesty. We as a nation should not be letting this happen. We as human-beings should not be letting this happen.

image by pixabay.com

Caz wrote on Invisibly Me this week that she was not able to get her regular B-12 shot because they are cracking down on it due to
 the ‘craze’ of ‘fashionable B12 injections’ celebrities touting. Really? B-12?!? What does this say about us, we keep people who need a vitamin away from them because of a fad? Jump over to her blog and read her story, it is eye opening.

If it’s not the government it’s the doctors keeping us from our medication.

In my case it’s my migraine doctor (or insurance company, I’m not sure which yet). I had to find a new migraine specialist when I moved to Tucson. I made the appointment before we even moved. I’ve seen him 3 times so far, each time I’ve had issues with him.

During my initial visit he told me he didn’t believe I had every type of headache I have been diagnosed with, until I said, “I don’t know, that’s what they told me at Duke”, then he changed his tune (he also seemed to check over everything with Stuart, to make sure he agreed with that I said, like I would make this up?) My second visit was Botox, which I didn’t really want, but he wouldn’t prescribe the new headache prevention medications until I tried it, at that visit he boasted he could do the injections in less than 2 minutes (very professional there huh?). The third visit was a Botox follow-up, we were interrupted so they could ask if he would see someone who arrived late, he said he would, then when the nurse left he proceeded to tell us how he’s in such demand he shouldn’t put up with things like that. I had to reschedule my last Botox appointment because of the infection I was fighting. My next appointment is on the 24th, I’m refusing the Botox.

I don’t know what happened, but I just got my Maxalt refill and it is for FOUR pills for a MONTH! I have a headache all the time, every day. Because I’m only supposed to take medication for 10 days a month to prevent medication overuse headache I tend to wait until my headaches get to an 8 or 9 before taking a Maxalt, if I don’t then I will run out long before the end of the month. This often means that I will have a severe migraine for days, or weeks, because I’ve waited too long to treat it.

The prescription is normally for 9 – 12 tablets depending on the doctor (my last doctor wrote it for 18, but she was in a headache clinic where they only treat headaches and could get insurance to cover it.) Maxalt is to be taken at the start of a migraine, if you do not have relief in 20 – 30 minutes take a 2nd one, not to exceed 2 in day. So if you end up taking 2 for a headache and you get 9, you will find relief for only 4 headaches and pray the next headache only needs one. When you have chronic migraine like I do, that means you have a migraine at least 15 days a month, did I mention I have a headache every day? So, even if I get relief from one pill each time that still leaves me with …heck so many migraines without medication I can’t even think, that really sucks.

So FOUR are only going to treat 2 – 4 headaches, see the problem?

Right now I honestly can’t say if this is an error, or if the insurance company did something screwy, or what. If the insurance is the problem then that’s a whole other issue, which is also a thorn in the patient’s side.

We should never be made to feel that our medication is being held hostage.

No matter the reason, the 24th will be the the last time I see this doctor.

I am seeing a new specialist in March who is with the Center of Neuroscience. It took me over 3 months to get in, but I’m okay with that if she is as good at my headache specialist at Duke and Carolina’s Headache Center. I’m really hoping to try one of the new migraine prevention medications.

**Everyone should read Kara’s comment to this post it is excellent.

Mindfulness Monday: pain

“Healing is an art. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes love.”

Maza Dohta

Being present, being in the moment can be difficult when in physical pain. To transcend that barrier; to be aware of breath and heartbeat over the noise of pain synapses. When the levels of my physical pain increase, as they have of late, I struggle to own my pain, rather than it owning me.

Helping Wendy with Mindfulness Mondays is therapeutic; choosing a topic; searching out the quotes; formulating the post – all help me focus, to remember to breath.

I hope this week’s Mindfulness Monday quotes help you be mindful of the pain and of the moment.

“Some people think that to be strong is to never feel pain. In reality, the strongest people are the ones who feel it, understand it, accept it.”

Anon

“Mindfulness can play a big role in transforming our experience with pain and other difficulties; it allows us to recognize the authenticity of the distress and yet not be overwhelmed by it.”

Susan Salzburg

“Chronic pain or other challenges are invitations; gifts that challenge us to learn how to manage the mind.”

Cheryl Richardson

image: (c) Lorraine

 

Infection – because Zombies are wussies.

2ousvb

On November 20th, I had a cyst removed from my scalp that was pressing on my cochlear implant.  I’d had another cyst, in a different area of my scalp, removed the month before without complications, so I felt I knew what to expect, I was wrong.  The cysts are made of Keratin and aren’t a big deal, but they can get rather large and I have 5 that have been bothering me for a long time.  The first one I had removed was visible through my hair…yes I know my hair is much thinner than it used to be, but it was really big.  (measured over 2cm when they took it out)  The recovery from the first removal was uncomfortable, but nothing big.  The recovery of the second cyst started out much more painful, and I still can’t wear my cochlear implant for that ear.  So I’ve been completely deaf, 100% of the time, in my right ear for over a month, and the new psychiatric medication I’m on now causes my tinnitus to increase greatly, the noise is driving me mad!  If I could wear my CI, I would at least have some sound that would help drown out this constant buzzing, chirping, chattering, NOISE!

On the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 26th) I had my annual physical.  During this visit I mentioned that my back was hurting around the kidney area and my bladder had been bothering me a little, so it might be a good idea to check my pee.  I honestly didn’t think they’d find anything.  I had strained my back, so that could explain that pain; and I have irritable bladder that flares up way too often, so these were the obvious culprits, I honestly didn’t expect anything to come of it.  The next day the doctor called to inform me that I have a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)  They felt they caught it early, so one round of an antibiotic should knock it out.  Sounded like a plan to me.

A week later, I was finishing up my antibiotics and I was in much more pain than I was in before I started them.  Off to the doctor for another urine sample, and it came back positive, I still had a UTI, but it was worse.  So I started Cipro.

During all of this the wound from the cyst removal had swollen three times the size of the original cyst and was getting red.  I was getting concerned, but I was scheduled for another cyst to be removed so I thought I’d just ask then.  But on the day I was supposed to go, my fever was too high and I was having vertigo, so we canceled the procedure and scheduled a wound check.  The night before the appointment the wound started to weep.  It was gross.  I reached up and touched the area and thought, “hey, it’s gone down some”, then I noticed my hand was all wet and gooey.  Ewww.  Off we went to have my wound checked and yes, it’s infected too.  I had one day left on Cipro, but I had to start a Zpack of the new antibiotic because it works better on this type of infection.

That brings us to yesterday, when I was just finishing the Cipro, and my bladder and kidneys still hurt.  I’ve also been running a low grade fever for weeks.  I started yet another antibiotic today!  Yes, this is the THIRD antibiotic I’ve been put on over the last month.  I can’t tell you the last time I needed an antibiotic, and suddenly I have to be on three?  Wow.  Mind officially blown.

One thing though, I don’t think zombies would be brave enough to touch me.

Medical Marijuana, how I got my card

*this is solely my experience, it may be different for others.  I live in Arizona, the requirements can be different for different states, and the type of product offered can be very different also.  You can read a good article about the whole process on Leafly, here.

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As soon as we moved to Tucson I started the process of getting my Medical Marijuana card.  I received it on my birthday (July 2nd).  Here’s the process I went through:

First I had to get an Arizona Driver’s License, thankfully I kept my license up to date even though I hadn’t driven in years.  To get my license I had to prove my identity and prove I live here, I took a copy of our lease and mail that had been forwarded from our previous address.  Within an hour after arriving at a DMV I had my temporary license in hand, after 2 weeks I received my official license in the mail.  Very shortly after that I went in to apply for my Medical Marijuana Card.

To obtain a Medical Card from the Arizona Department of Health I needed to take my medical records that proved I have been dealing with one of the approved conditions on the list for over a year, in my case severe migraines, to a doctor to see if I qualify.   To find a doctor who will do these referrals was pretty easy, I just looked in the local free paper, there are plenty of ads (I actually think this is kind of weird)   I saw an ad that looked a bit more professional than some of the others and emailed them (as most of you probably know, I don’t use the phone because of my hearing loss).  The doctor I saw is a Naturopathic Doctor, she reviewed my records briefly and checked my vitals.  She told me a little about Medical Marijuana, and told me I should receive my card in a couple of weeks.  Oh, I also had to pay a fee to the doctor and a fee to the state, the doctor fee can vary, the state fee is set.  You can get the recommendation from the doctor and then file your own paperwork online with the health department, but I decided to pay the extra little bit to have the doctor’s office do the filing for me, they even took my photo for my ID.  So to break down the cost, the office visit was $100, the processing fee (to have them file all my paperwork) was $20, and the state fee is $150 so the total cost to get my the card was $270.  The state fee is $75 for those with a SNAP card (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

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Ads found in the Tucson Weekly  (I’m not against recreational use, but if this is a medicinal only state, then treat it like medicine.  The ads like those above give medical patients a bad name.)

 

If you are interested in even more details, this link will send you to the center where I saw my prescriber.  Actually it isn’t “prescribed”, it is recommended, doctors honestly don’t have enough knowledge about the efficacy of marijuana (the different strains vary in what they do, some are sedating, some are energizing, some help pain, some cause paranoia…..there is no way to actually just prescribe marijuana like you do other medications, you have to know all the different aspects of the different strains and delivery methods, therefore they really have no idea how to dose it.  The center that I went to offered a 15-minute Complimentary Consultation to discuss the available types and delivery method for cannabis, and suggested strains to help with my condition.  They also suggested a dosing schedule.  I felt this visit too short, however, since I had already done a lot of research I didn’t need a lot of guidance (or so I thought), but I welcomed the advice on strains and dosing.  The center also offers a couple of workshops, one teaches how to make edibles because it’s much cheaper to make your own, (these are an additional cost).

After receiving my card I visited a Dispensary that is located close to my house. (since then I’ve done some research on the different dispensaries in the area and I will make sure to take advantage of the best deals, it kind of blows my mind that they offer sales, I thought all the dispensaries would have the same prices and the same products, but it can vary greatly.  I should note that the dispensaries are non-profit, however, some also sell paraphernalia, I don’t know if they are allowed to make a profit on that, it seems like they should.

When we arrived at the dispensary someone greeted us at the door and welcomed us in.  We walked into what appeared to be a somewhat large lounge, the actual shop was in another room that had to be opened for me to go in.  Stuart was not allowed in the shop with me even though I told them I needed him to hear, to compensate they had a pen and paper so we could communicate that way if needed.

A very sweet girl met me at the door and gave me a tour of the shop.  She pointed out a cart that contained CBD products only and told me that anyone could come in and buy those, they simply took the cart out to the lobby and had them shop from there.  I noticed that she kept pointing out the strains with the highest amount of THC, they are more expensive, so I was wary about taking her advice as to what I needed.  (I have since been back to this dispensary and another and found the people I spoke with very knowledgeable and were able to really help me figure out which products to try.)

There are so many different types of delivery methods, smoking, vaping, tinctures, transdermal patches, various edibles (from cookies to hard candies), drinks, and concentrates….so much it is mind blowing.  The doctor I saw recommended I use a tincture and vape.  A CBD tincture 10 mg, 3 times a day, as a migraine preventative; and a CBD:THC 1:1 tincture to help me sleep.  It was also suggested I vape for acute pain, since I have a dry herb vaporizer I was given the name of a few strains that would help, I was also given the strength I’d need if I wanted to use an oil vaporizer.  This was a good starting point, but I have a lot more to learn.  This article can give you more of an understanding of what CBD and THC are and what they do: “CBD vs THC: What’d the Difference?”  (I have found the best information on Leafly.com)

 

In my next post I will tell all about what I’ve tried so far, and things I wish I knew before I started this journey.

****NOTE****  I admit I’m very nervous about writing this article.  Please be kind to me, do not treat me as a drug seeker.  I am not looking to get “high”, I simply want the pain to lessen.

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