Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.'

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying,

'Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.'"

Luke 2: 8-14, New Living Translation

Monday, December 15, 2008

Headache Procedures

Below is an excerpt from the Houston Chronicle on headache procedures. Click here for the full article, called "So many ways to treat so many types of headache" by Cindy George.

I wasn't aware of these procedures. If you've tried one or more, I'd love to hear from you on whether or not they worked!

- - - - - - - -

• NERVE BLOCK: The occipital nerve block, called ONB, is a 10-minute outpatient steroid injection around pinched nerves that stretch from the upper neck to the back of the eyes.
"That will help relieve chronic daily headaches and migraines," Derman (Dr. Howard S. Derman, a neurologist at The Methodist Hospital) said.

The medication doesn't go into the bloodstream and there are no side effects from the steroids, he said.

After 140 procedures in the last 18 months, Derman reports a 65 percent success rate.

• NERVE DECOMPRESSION SURGERY: Involves an incision at the back of the head to remove thick tissue that squeezes occipital nerves.
"The decompression is very effective in relieving headaches that have been going on for years," Blake (Dr. Pamela Blake, a Houston neurologist at Memorial Hermann Northwest) said. She evaluates patients and determines which nerves need the operation.

A surgeon performs the decompression. Ideal candidates have had daily, constant headaches for more than 6 months and do not respond well to medications. About half of patients with insurance are covered for the procedure.

• NERVE STIMULATION IMPLANT: A device connected to a battery pack, similar to a pacemaker, is placed under the skin to stimulate occipital nerves and drown out pain.
"The theory is that your brain can only listen to one type of stimulation at a time," Blake said. "If we can drive out painful stimulus with painless stimulus, the brain will listen to that."

This is an option for people who did not respond to decompression surgery or whose insurance will not cover the surgery.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Headaches and Hormones

I visited my neurologist this week and I have a few things to discuss. Warning - hormonal discussion ahead, with all the gory details.

Earlier I wrote how I plan to visit a new neurologist who specializes in hormonal headaches. I brought it up to my neurologist, and he seemed familiar with her and said that she would probably put me on estrogen, which I've tried before. However, I still want to see her, so, my neurologist is filling out a referral for me and then the new place has to evaluate my files and decide whether or not they'll accept me. Yep, apparently I have to be accepted. With all the people who suffer from headaches/migraines (I think I read the other day it's 20% of women), I'm sure they get a lot of requests. I'll post on my blog as soon as I get accepted (might as well think positively).

Hormonal Issues and My IUD
I told my neurologist that I've been spotting and cramping still (sometimes one or the other, sometimes both, at all different times throughout the month). If you don't follow my blog, I should mention that I have an intrauterine device - IUD - Mirena - because I felt that the Pill gave me migraines. I've tried the Patch also, and the Pill for months straight and had breakthrough bleeding. Fun stuff. So anyway, my neuro asked me if I had breast tenderness (yes) and cysts (I think so) which the IUD can cause. He thinks I should get the IUD out next month when I visit my gyno. Btw, dummy me didn't check to see if the IUD was covered in my insurance two years ago, and the Mirena plus insertion cost about $1,000. One. Thousand. Bucks. And it's supposed to last five years. That would have pretty much been the cost of the Pill for five years, so that made it a little better. But after two years??? And removal costs $175.

My husband does NOT want me to get it out, because of money. I hate to go against him, but it's my body, and I don't like what's happening with it.

Hormonal Tests
One reason my neuro wants it out, aside from the reasons above, is so I can have a normal period and get my hormones tested. A few visits ago I asked him about getting my hormones tested and he said it wouldn't help, but that's because he thought my headaches were from muscle tension and I think now he realizes it's hormones, because all the anxiety meds and muscle relaxers didn't help.

Quasi-scientific Stuff
I will attempt to explain why my neuro wants my IUD out and hormones checked. The Mirena IUD has the hormone levonorgestrel, which is synthetic progesterone, a natural female hormone. Levonorgestrel acts like progesterone in the female parts and the brain for most women, but for some, like me, it doesn't fit the receptors. My neuro thinks that I need the progesterone because he suspects my levels are low and that is why I started my period somewhat late (age 15) and had heavy periods and cramping. My mom went through the same thing (she does not have headaches, but my dad gets migraines, with his fibromyalgia) so I thought nothing of it. If I do have some form of a progesterone deficiency, the hormone tests would reflect it and I could then take pills to fix it, and PERHAPS, my headaches would then go away.

Just the thought of there finally being a cause of my headaches is extremely exciting to me, and I want to yank the IUD out (ouch, not really) and get the tests done immediately! But, I have to wait for a normal period first.

Other Updates
Btw - I get to stop Abilify, thank the Lord. And I mean that. It was awful.

My neuro also recommended a book, Natural Hormone Balance for Women, by Uzzi Reiss, M.D./O.B. GYN. Yes, that's seven letters after his name! I checked it out from the library today and will do a book review post when I'm done.

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to comment to share your experiences, thoughts, or opinions!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Natural Products

A few posts ago I talked about eating more natural foods, and I mentioned that I'm switching to more natural products as well. I searched the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database and bought the safest products I could find at Whole Foods and CVS. Because these products are free of fragrances and other "toxins" that alter the body's hormones and do other bad things, I thought that my headaches might improve. Here are my thoughts.

Negatives first:
-my headaches have not improved
-the soap is made of olive oil and is very hard to clean off my shower door
-I'm not 100% sure that fluoride-free toothpaste prevents cavities, but I'm going to ask my dentist when I see him next. For now, I use toothpaste with fluoride about once a week to be safe. ***UPDATE! I called my dentist and he does NOT recommend fluoride-free toothpaste, since that's what prevents cavities. Bummer. I guess you just spit toothpaste out anyway (of course I'm sure some is absorbed).***
-all these products are expensive, even with coupons
-the shampoo and conditioner stink
-the deodorant, which is pretty much salt water, doesn't work well but I do sweat a lot for a girl

-I feel better about the products I use, and by that I mean I feel like these products are healthy for my body
-I have a goat milk soap that I'm going to try next - maybe that will work better than the oil-based one
-the shaving cream, which looks like toothpaste, doesn't lather much, but it still provides excellent coverage without having to use a lot, and I haven't cut myself shaving at all

I use mineral makeup and was hoping to convert all my makeup to the best brands on the database, but what I found was extremely expensive, so I'm sticking to what I have for now. I do use Alba lip gloss, which has 82% certified organic ingredients (what's the remaining 18%? Who knows). Also, I use a regular unscented lotion. I might buy a natural one from the database eventually.

P.S. - Keep the comments coming on the post below on Abilify!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Abilify Side Effects?

I've been on my "full" dose of Abilify for about two weeks. Full is in quotes because it's only 1 mg/day, whereas if I was taking it for bipolar disorder and not headaches, I'd be on 20 mg, according to my neurologist. Check out my first Abilify post.

Because I had to start it so gradually, I'm thinking the dosage is high enough to cause side effects. So, here they are, and please note that I'm reluctant to post these because I've had a cold the last week and a half, so these could be from the cold:

- Vivid dreams. Very very creepily realistic.
- Loss of appetite (this one's got to be from my cold).
- INABILITY TO CONCENTRATE. I'm at work right now, and I figured all I was doing was staring at the computer screen, so I might as well post about it on my blog. Seriously, I have a lot of work to do and my job has been ridiculously difficult lately just because I can't focus!
- Depression. **Let me change this to "Anxiety." While I do feel down, I'm more anxious than anything. I don't want to misrepresent the lovely side effects!** A depression medicine, causing depression? Strange, but it happens. My neurologist said Abilify would lower my anxiety (I haven't been diagnosed, but I worry all the time), and I think it's done the opposite. I'm restless and yet in a zone.

If you're on Abilify, please share your experiences! I can live with the side effects, but I still have headaches, so what's the point. I'm going to stick with it until my next appointment in December because I know meds take a while to work, but I don't anticipate that happening. Sorry to be negative.

To end on a positive note, I've decided to see a new neurologist. I'm going to speak with my current neuro about it in Dec.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Review: The Headache Cure

On a recent vacation, I read The Headache Cure by Joseph Kandel, M.D. and David Sudderth, M.D. I read the entire book in the car in about five hours (surprisingly, reading in a car does NOT give me a headache). I read it so quickly because it told me just about everything I already knew.

(image copyright 2008 Barnes & Noble)

If you're just starting to get headaches, this is the book for you. It's basic and covers lots of possible reasons and solutions.

However, if you're like me and have been suffering from headaches for years, you probably won't learn much from this book.

There was one part that was interesting, so of course I'm going to share it with my readers! If you want to try feverfew or other vitamins/supplements, this book gives some helpful buying tips:

* Buy vitamins/supplements manufactured in the U.S. or Canada only.
* Check ingredients to make sure there aren't lots of unecessary ones. For feverfew for example, it should only contain parthenolide.
*Ask your doctor about the dosage, or buy the product that has the lowest required dose.
*This goes without saying, but check with your doctor before you start taking vitamins/supplements because there's always a risk of interaction with your current prescription or OTC medications.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Echocardiogram results; Bystolic Q&A

Drum roll, please....

No hole in my heart! Woohoo. I was ready to have heart surgery too. Of course, I would have ruled out other things first. Anyway, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, see my last post. I encourage everyone who has headaches/migraines to get the test done though, assuming your insurance covers it, because ya never know...

So moving on to other things, this health Web site called Wellsphere publishes my blog (among other blogs) and they have a Q&A section, so I decided to ask a question. Here's the link, and here's the Q&A:


Is anyone else on Bystolic (nebivolol) for headaches/migraines?

I've been on it (5 mg/day) for at least six months, and while my migraines have gone away for the most part, I still have about 10-15 headaches a month. My neurologist thinks it's helping my migraines, but I'm not sure if it's that or something else. I didn't have many migraines that often to begin with.

If you're on it or have tried it, please weigh in. Is it helping? Did you have any side effects? (I haven't noticed any except for a slower heart rate). I'm nervous about being on such a new medication when I don't even think it's helping.





Bystolic is a beta blocker, and beta blockers are quite effective Migraine preventive medications for many people. However, after five months, it's working as well as it's going to unless you increase your dosage. If you're worried about Bystolic because it's new, there are many older beta blockers you could try, including propranolol/Inderal (Note from Heather - I've tried these; bad side effects)

You are definitely still having too many Migraines. Research is increasingly showing that Migraine is a progressive neruological disease that can cause brain damage in some patients. Those who have three or more Migraines a month are at more risk for such damage than people who have fewer than three Migraines a month.

For more information, see Is Migraine a Progressive Brain Disease? and Yes, Migraines Can Cause Brain Damage.

Don't just settle. It's far too important. If your doctor won't work with you to find better treatment, it's time for a new doctor.

Good luck,


(Back to Heather:)

Now, Teri isn't a doctor, but she seems to have a lot of knowledge when it comes to headaches and migraines. Check out her blog here.

Speaking of migraines, I had my first one in a while (I mostly get headaches) on Friday. I'm nervous that since I've had my IUD for two years, my body is getting used to it and I'm going to have migraines like I did when my body got used to The Pill. I hope I'm wrong, but we'll see.

To wrap up this post, I'd like to thank God for the good test results today!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


On November 10 I will have an echocardiogram at my neurologist's office. For those who are not familiar, research has shown that many people who have a hole in the heart also suffer from migraines. My mom, who is a nurse, saw this on tv and encouraged me to get a test - an echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart.

Two really neat things for which I give God the credit - when I asked my neurologist about the test, I found out that a cardiologist actually comes to their office every Monday and can perform the test! The second absolutely extraordinary thing is that my insurance is actually going to cover the test! Praise God! Although they weren't certain they'd cover it at first, I wrote them a letter explaining how I was born with a functional heart murmur, which could be from a hole in my heart, so that might have helped.

So what happens if they find a hole? I'm trying not to think about that, especially since my aunt was telling me about someone who died from having surgery for a hole in his heart (but his was necessary and not related to migraines) - she told me this without knowing about my test too! But, there are people who have had the surgery and had a reduction in migraines.

I encourage you to read this post from The Daily Headache, a really neat blog that you've probably visited. The comments are particularly interesting.

I'll post my test results next week. Until then, hope you have a headache-free week (starting tomorrow - I mean, how can you NOT have a headache on election day? hehe).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Doctor's Appointment Nov. 10

If anyone actually follows my lovely blog, and by lovely I mean somewhat scattered but overall not terrible... I'm taking a quick break for about a week, but I'll try blogging later next week. I have an important doctor's appointment Nov. 10 and I'll try to blog beforehand or around that time. (sorry for the teaser)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I had an appointment with my neurologist yesterday. He put me on Abilify, a drug for bipolar disorder. He said it's also used at a smaller dose for headaches, and it helps with stress and muscle tension but doesn't make you drowsy.

See how tiny it is? I put it by a penny. I just remembered my computer has a camera on it, so I can take pictures for this blog! I don't have a digital camera...weird, I know. Sorry it's a little blurry.

I started taking it this morning and didn't have any noticeable side effects. It must be strong though because my neuro is having me take 1 mg (the pill is 2 mg, so I have to split it) every 3rd morning for 3 doses, 1 mg every 2nd morning for 3 doses, and then 1 mg every morning. VERY gradual!

Also, I asked my neuro about Migraten and feverfew. He explained that he doesn't think they would help with my headaches which are more tension than migraine. I had TWENTY headaches last month (part of it was from the Naproxen rebound headaches), and he said that with the frequency and type of headache I have, it wouldn't be enough to help. That makes sense. I can still try it though - he said it won't interfere with my other medications (I'm still on 5 mg of Bystolic also). I looked at the Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods, and both had migraine pills with feverfew, magnesium, riboflavin, etc. but no Migraten. They're all pretty expensive in my opinion (about $30 for 60 pills), but I may try them at some point.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Healthy Eating

I've pretty much always tried to eat healthy, except for a brief time in college when I realized that I could use the money on my dining card at the campus convenience stores and get as much candy as I wanted, but that ended when I graduated. But, there is always room for improvement.

After doing some reading and researching, I've realized that I have a long way to go. I make well-balanced meals and try to eat fruits and veggies and cook from scratch, and the MSG issue helps - it's in a lot of processed foods, so I avoid most of them. Some things I need to start doing are eating more fresh produce from the local farmer's market, buying organic foods like hormone-free meat and milk, and limiting my intake of refined sugars and white flour. I LOVE me some starches, but overall, I don't think I'm going to have a hard time doing this.

So why am I doing this? Because I intend to win my War on Headaches. Eating healthy and exercising, which I've also been working on, pretty much seem to help any health problem, including headaches.

And a quick note on $$$ - I know organic things cost big bucks, but I believe that it's worth a try, at least for a few months, and if it does help my headaches, I won't have to spend as much money on neurology visits and medications.

I just found this really cool blog that relates to this - check it out if you want to give it a try.

P.S. - Not to go total eco-friendly, tree-hugging on you, but I'm also going to gradually use up my beauty products and start buying all natural stuff too (deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, makeup, etc.). Here's a good link: Cosmetics Database

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Food Diary

I've decided that since my stupid insurance doesn't cover nutritionists (WHY??? Is obesity not an epidemic? I'm not obese but I'm just saying, you think they'd want to cover nutritionists and that in turn would reduce visits to other doctors for diseases that result from obesity - oh wait, then they wouldn't get as much money), I'm keeping a food diary. I'll track what I eat for a few months, and write down my headaches, which I already do, and then analyze it myself. If I don't find any trends, I'll show my neurologist or maybe see a nutritionist and pay for it myself.

If you want to find out more about keeping a food diary, see what About.com says about it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Book Review - Natural Cures for Headaches

I finally finished reading Natural Cures for Headaches by Dr. Cass Ingram. I loved that it focused on the CAUSE of headaches - a few examples are food allergies/intolerances, infections, hormonal disturbances, chemical sensitivity, muscle tension, high blood pressure, hypohyroidism, adrenal gland disorders, abscesses and brain tumors. The book even has questionnaires for some of these conditions to see if you might have them.

Here are my personal takeaways from the book, which of course I'm going to talk to my neurologist about before taking any action:

- Food Inolerance Test. The UNC neurologist still hasn't called me back, but I'm hoping to keep calling nutritionists to see if anyone has heard of it. Not now though, because my insurance would no cover this test or nutritionist visits.

- Migraten. I did a google search, and apparently there's also something out there called MigraTen, but this is a drug concoction and is different from Migraten. Migraten is made from natural spices and the way Dr. Ingram describes it, it's pretty much a miracle drug for headaches and migraines.

- Diet. The book says to try cutting carbs, refined sugars, white sugar and white flour. I realize that this is virtually impossible, but others have tried this and are alive to tell about it (if you have, please tell me how you did it!). I probably won't be able to cut everything, but I am going to try to cut down on sugar and eat only whole wheat pastas/breads, brown rice, etc. Note that wheat is a common allergy/headache trigger, so be careful if you do try this. Also, I plan on buying more organic foods like milk. The book says to cut processed foods and those with MSG - I avoid MSG since it makes me sick, and although I try not to eat processed foods, I'm not 100% there yet, so I'm going to work on that as well.

Other updates: I've decided to stick with my neurologist (more about that in a future post). The Naproxen was giving me rebound headaches so I called the neuro and he said I could go off it. I did it somewhat gradually and decided that the last one I'd take was yesterday morning. I thought the withdrawal headaches would be a nightmare, but they actually weren't any worse than the rebound headaches I was having. Now I'm just about headache-free! The only drug I'm on now is Bystolic (and my Mirena IUD, and a women's daily multivitamin).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Update to last post and Neurologist-Hopping

The University of North Carolina Hospital neurologist, nice as he was, never called me back (see last post about the apparently non-existent food intolerance test). I'm sure he's busy, or maybe the headache neuro he spoke with didn't have an answer for me so he decided not to call. I might still try to see a nutritionist, but that's another thing - one of many - that my insurance doesn't cover, so for now I'm going to hold off.

I've been thinking about seeing the headache neuro at UNC, but that would mean I'd stop going my neuro at the headache clinic who is the 4th neuro I've seen. That would make neuro #5. And isn't a headache clinic the best place to be? I know that it's not uncommon for people with illnesses to see lots of doctors, but I like my current one. At the same time though, maybe I need someone with a different perspective. I don't know what to do.

I'm traveling this weekend and hope to get some reading in, so I'll try finishing the headache books I've started and will write about anything helpful when I return.

Have a fun, headache-free weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food Intolerance Test - Natural Cures for Headaches

I've been reading this book which I checked out at the library, and I'm about half way through. The beginning mentioned a Food Intolerance Test that you can take to see if certain foods might trigger reactions such as migraines or headaches. I'm not sure who Dr. Cass Ingram is; the library sticker is over his bio, but according to my google search, "Dr. Ingram holds a Doctor of Osteopathy degree from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences" (osteopathy - musculoskeletal manipulation, holistic, blah blah blah - I wikipedia'd it and still don't really get it) talks specifically about how food intolerances/allergies are the number one cause of headaches, and he goes into specifics about this test - it's a blood test that's 80% accurate, costs $2 for each food you test, etc. However, I'm beginning to think he made up this test. Google searches bring up a few lab companies and then other related tests like ELISA, which Dr. Ingram mentions and says it's not as accurate.

I first asked my neurologist about it, who said it wouldn't tell me anything because my headaches are more like tension headaches (I get neck pain sometimes and my headaches are more of a dull pain). But I wanted to try it, so I called a nutritionist, but she only did weight-loss-type stuff. The one nutritionist my insurance covers was a diabetes specialist. My insurance doesn't cover food intolerance testing. Then I tried an allergist, and they only do food allergy testing (which, if I understand it correctly, is different from food intolerance because food allergies cause swelling, shortness of breath, etc.).

On a quick side note, I'm intolerant to MSG, which gives me flu symptoms, but I found that out from going to a nutritionist and keeping a food diary, and I get so many headaches that it wouldn't help to keep a food diary. I could do an elimination diet, but I want to avoid that because of the time and trouble and plus I don't want to fast and then eat one thing at a time for a while. I might change my mind and try it eventually though if I have to.

Going back to the doctors though, so I finally tried calling UNC Hospitals to see if they had heard of the test. The sent me to different units who sent me back to the main receptionist, and finally I asked to be transferred to the neurology department. The person who answered the phone couldn't help but she transferred me to a neurologist, and he ended up saying that he hadn't heard of it but he'd talk to another neuro who specializes in headaches and would get back to me this morning. When I apologized for the trouble he said it was a learning experience for him and he was glad to help.

Unfortunately, he did not call back this morning, but I'm hoping he didn't forget about me and will call me next week.

If I don't hear from him, I might give up on the alleged Food Intolerance Test.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

FDA List - Drugs with Potential Safety Issues

I just read about this list in the newspaper - the government is now posting drugs under investigation for potential safety problems on this Web site. So far, there are 20 meds on the list; one I've tried is Cymbalta. The potential risk for that is urinary retention. Lucky for me, my body did NOT like Cymbalta. I tried it a few years ago and the morning after the first night I took it, I was in a complete daze. I had to miss work, and I pretty much just stared into space until it wore off.

Anyways though, getting back to the Web site, this is a good resource to check every so often if you're taking medications!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Food Intolerance Test

Sorry for another short post. I found out that my beloved medical insurance does not cover food intolerance tests; however, I'm going to call a doctor to see how much it would cost without insurance.

Things are crazy right now, so I haven't been able to do that yet. But I will, and I'll report my findings here!

My headaches are still there...not much else to report on really. So I'll take this time to remind all you readers that you are welcome to comment to this blog to tell your story, give headache tips, ask questions, start conversations, etc.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Labor Day Weekend

I have a headache, so this is a quick post. Just wanted to say I'm looking into getting a Food Intolerance Test done, even though my neurologist said he didn't think it would show anything because my headaches seem to be muscle-tension related. But I still want to try it, assuming insurance covers it, which I need to find out. I hope to have more info soon.

Have a wonderful, relaxing and headache-free Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is Bystolic helping my migraines?

Someone commented the other day on an old post I made when I first started taking Bystolic, asking if it is making a difference in my migraines. I decided to include my answer in this post so it has more visibility.

Short answer: it's complicated.

My neurologist is convinced that the Bystolic is preventing migraines. While I haven't had full-blown migraine in a while, I still have nausea and light sensitivity with some headaches. And of course, I get about 15 headaches a month, so those could be considered mini-migraines.

Other factors could tie in - I had migraines when I was on birth control pills, now I have an IUD (Mirena). I haven't been spotting as bad from it (I've had it about 2 years and had bad spotting the first year and a half). When I was on the pill though, I was in college and had an awful sleep schedule, so that could have caused my migraines - or maybe it was a combination of that and The Pill.

I just looked at my headache calendar and my last migraine was in July; before that, March, when I started the Bystolic. And before that, I had them about once or twice a month.

So maybe Bystolic is helping. I haven't had any noticeable side effects, so I don't mind taking it just to be safe!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Quick update on the Naproxen - it's starting to upset my stomach, but I was able to get some Nexium samples, which I take once a day. I still have an upset stomach but it's not too bad.

Also, my final physical therapy appointment was last week. The therapist suggested that I take a heating pad to work for my neck/shoulders, so I did that during the week and it seemed to help. The headaches that I've had last week would come and go and never really stuck, which is awesome. She also said to do yoga. I have a yoga video, but I haven't done it recently; I did work out on the treadmill last week but that's about it. I need to make time for workouts, because exercise seems to improve my mood in additon to helping the headaches.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Naproxen - my new weapon?

In my war with headaches, I have yet another plan. Physical therapy didn't work, so I'm stopping that. I'm still on Bystolic to prevent migraines (I wish it would prevent headaches too, but I still get about 15 headaches per month). When I visited my neurologist last week, I mentioned that I take Aleve when I get headaches and that it generally works. My neurologist wrote me a prescription for Naproxen (which is also Aleve) - 250 mg twice a day for a month and a half, until I see him next.

I expressed my concern for rebound headaches and also mentioned that sometimes when I take Aleve a lot, my body seems to get used to it and it doesn't help as much. He said that he didn't think I'd have a problem and said to just try it. He did say that it could upset my stomach so he told me to take an antacid tablet with it at night (he prescribed Nexium, but my stupid insurance didn't cover it, so it would've been like 150 bucks).

The plan is to knock out my headache cycle, because right now my body is accustomed to having frequent headaches. So Naproxen, please please please win the war for me!

Naproxen Info

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dry Mouth Causes Cavities

I've never had a cavity in my life. Today, at the dentist, I found out I have THREE cavities. THREE!

Well, check out this excerpt from a previous post of mine: "My side effects from the Desipramine and Lexapro have been dry mouth (which I don't mind too much - I now have an excuse to eat lots of candy and chew gum; plus I drink a lot of water)..."

Interesting, isn't it? I don't often get to give lessons from my experiences, but here's a valuable lesson - DRY MOUTH - or perhaps the candy you eat to create saliva - CAUSES CAVITIES. Grr. To my defense I rarely drink sugary drinks, I chew sugar-free gum, and the candy I had wasn't more than I had in college, when I was convinced that I couldn't write papers and study without constantly popping the candy. So the dry mouth side effect had to have been a factor, because I had it for a while. And as every migraine or headache-sufferer knows, dry mouth is a common side effect for lots of meds.

There are saliva rinses/sprays; in fact, last time I was at the dentist, they gave me some samples, but they don't work very long. (I have a lesson, but not a solution...sorry.)

On Wednesday, I have a physical therapy appointment, a neurology appointment and then another dental appointment to get my THREE cavities fixed. That's going to be a fun-packed day for sure. Jealous?

P.S. - About the night guard - my dentist said he's heard of bad things happening with them, like someone's back teeth not touching after using one from a pharmacy; but he also said that those are rare cases. He said a custom one from the dentist is best, but expensive. He said from looking at my teeth that the grinding wasn't too bad, so I think I'll just give up the night guard. I'm still getting headaches anyway.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Neuro Non-update and Bystolic

I'm such a loser - I wrote my neurology appointment for the wrong day in my calendar, so I missed my appointment which should have been Monday. I felt so bad, and dumb...I admit that I tend to do dumb things, but I'm so used to having tons of doctor appointments that it keeping a schedule comes naturally for me. Ha. Anyways, so now they're booked 3 weeks straight, so they had to schedule a double booking, whatever that means, for next week.

Now I have to refill my Bystolic since I only have one pill left. But I think my neuro would have kept me on it either way, since I'm still not getting bad migraines, and he says it's because of the Bystolic. Speaking of which, is anyone who is reading this on the stuff? It's so new that I worry about it. I guess if it did have long-term adverse affects though, nobody would know right away. Yikes.

Oh, and I scheduled two more physical therapy sessions and I'm going to see what my neuro says about whether I should keep going or not.

I had lots of headaches in a big spurt over the weekend (and before and after...except Monday when my body gave me a nice break) but now I feel pretty good. I think it was somewhat hormonal. Even though I'm not getting periods anymore because of my IUD, I had pretty bad cramps around the same time I was getting the headaches.

Fun stuff.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nightguard, Zoloft, Physical Therapy

Oh my, where do I start?

The other night my husband heard me grinding my teeth, which I guess is one of the many destructive ways my body deals with stress. I woke up with a headache the next day. That morning at physical therapy, I told my physical therapist and she suggested buying a nightguard. My dentist hasn't said anything about my teeth related to grinding and my neurologist has given me muscle relaxers to take a night to prevent it which didn't help my headaches, but I've never tried a nightguard, so I bought this one:


It's pretty neat, and luckily I rarely have problems getting to sleep at night, so it only takes me about 3 minutes to fall asleep instead of one (no, I did not actually time this - is that even possible?). For people who have insomnia, it might take some getting used to. I have a dentist appointment coming up, so I'm going to check and make sure it's ok if I use it for a few months to see if my headaches are reduced.

Next item, Zoloft. What a disaster. My body completely rejected it. After calling my neuro and telling the nurse about my stomach issues with Zoloft, she suggested I reduce the dosage from 50 mg back down to 25 mg. After a week, it didn't help and I couldn't take getting sick anymore, so I called again. This time, my neurologist got on the phone, and he said something along the line of..."Heather, you're something else." Then he started naming other medications to see if I tried them with previous neurologists, which I had, and none worked, obviously. He said he'd think about what to do next and we'd talk about it at my next appointment mid-August. I feel like he dreads seeing me because nothing helps and I always have crappy side effects. So, right now, I'm still on 10 mg of Bystolic, which he thinks is preventing migraines (not headaches).

I'm still getting bad headaches though, and some migraine symptoms - nausea and light sensitivity. Physical therapy isn't working, and I only have one more appointment scheduled, so I'm afraid it's going to be just like the chiropractor - they'll tell me they can't help me, and that will be sad...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Healing Service

I attended a "healing service" at my church (Methodist) Sunday evening. I was really looking forward to it and didn't know what to expect. It was definitely a positive experience. The sermon was on medical miracles Jesus performed (stopping a woman's bleeding for example). Then we had communion, and then anyone who wanted to could go to one of four people at the front of the church to get annointed with oil.

For me, all my emotions from struggling with headaches overwhelmed me, and I cried the whole time. It was embarrassing because I don't like crying in public, but many other people were crying as well. The service was inspiring, and yet I found it hard not to doubt God. I know that God still performs miracles, but could I really have headaches for eight or so years and then they just stop? The preacher made certain to mention that a change would happen in God's time, which I am willing to accept.

I've had a bad headache already since the service, but I'm not blaming God. Some things happen on Earth that we'll never be able to understand (some so bad that I am at times thankful that I "just" have headaches). At least I know that miracles are possible. And for now, my preachers are praying for me. Bring on the healing!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Physical Therapy

I started seeing a physical therapist for headaches and so far I've had two sessions. The place is connected to a neurology practice, so they have a lot of headache patients - in fact, one came in while I was there today. What's funny, or really sad, is that I called one PT place before finding this one and the receptionist, after asking the reason I needed to see a physical therapist, said I should see a neurologist for headaches. Ya think?

They've been doing some neat things so far for me:

-Trigger point massage
-Heat treatment
-A machine, sorry I can't remember the name, but it has two wires that clip on my earlobes and a current runs through the wires. It does something to the alpha waves in my brain. I couldn't feel anything but I think they're going to turn it higher next time.
-Another machine that I don't know the name of, sorry, but the therapist stuck four squares with wires on my upper back and it shot a current so strong it made my muscles jerk. It didn't hurt though; it felt like little jolts through my back
-Neck traction (a machine pulled at my neck at 15 second intervals while I was lying down) - this gave me a headache because it pulled right behind my earlobes where my headaches often start; however, the headache went away soon afterward.
-Stretches - I learned neck and shoulder stretches that I can do at home.

They also suggested I use a heating pad on my neck every day after work because I sit at a desk in front of a laptop all day, and my headaches usually start in the afternoon and get worse and worse from there. It feels great to go home and relax my neck for a few minutes.

So, I don't want to get my hopes up, BUT, I'm doing SOMETHING besides trying medication after medication, and that makes me feel good.

Speaking of which, I still have stomach issues - I don't know if it's from stopping Lyrica or starting Zoloft, but it's getting old. I'm going to keep taking it (and I'm also still on Bystolic), because I pretty much need it to get through my job right now. (I'm on it for headache prevention, if the headaches are from stress and the Zoloft helps the stress, it makes sense to keep taking it.)

In an ideal world, physical therapy would work and I'd get to drop the drugs.

Have a wonderful and headache-free weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lastest Neuro Visit

Why am I typing this Wednesday morning when I should be at work? Let me explain.

I saw my neurologist Monday, and we had a good talk. Note to anyone searching for a neuro or not happy with theirs - keep looking until you find one who cares about YOU and not just your condition, because your body/mind are connected and likely affect your condition. Also, mine doesn't scoff at alternative medicine. Don't get me wrong - he puts me on plenty of drugs, but that's part of his job. Here are the highlights:

- Physical Therapy - I asked him if I should try this since I get lots of tension headaches that seem to come from the neck, and he said that was a good idea and wrote me a referral. It looks like my insurance will cover 20 visits a year, so I'm going to make an appointment. I've had physical therapy twice for my hip, and it helped, so I'm going into this with a positive mindset.

- Acupuncture - My neuro said I should give it a try. He said it helps a lot of people with headaches and is very relaxing. I may try PT first though, since it's cheaper.

- Biofeedback - My dad has tried this for his fibromyalgia. He said you listen to tapes and go through visualization and positive thinking exercises. More on that here. I think my neuro said he can do this, so I'm going to ask him about it next time (I had thought he wrote a note for the office worker to take care of it but it was actually the PT referral).

- Life Coach - Not a typical treatment for headaches, but I told him how stressed I was with work, and he said I should see someone on career counseling. He also said I could set up an appointment with my preacher, so I think I'm going to do that. Once I "figure things out" I'm certain my stress levels will drop. And he did suggest prayer, which I've been doing, but prayer is a conversation with God (two-sided) and I have trouble with the listening part. What's interesting is at Bible study last night we talked about Christian meditation and how you should take time each day in silence and let God speak to you. I'm going to start doing this.

- Meds - Lyrica wasn't working, so I'm going off it. I'm still on Bystolic (5 mg each night), since my neuro is convinced that it's almost eliminated my migraines (not headaches). Could be true, and since I don't have noticeable side effects, I'm fine with staying on it. And now my latest medication to help my tension headaches is, drumroll please...Zoloft.

Which brings me back to why I'm home sick today. Warning: TMI up ahead in three, two...Zoloft gives me awful diarrhea. I take 25 mg each night and after a week I'll increase to 50 mg at night, then 75 mg if I want to (yeah right). I started it Mon. night and was sick Tues. morning. I went to work but only ate oatmeal and pretzels. Of course, because I didn't eat much, I got an awful headache. I took it again last night, and this morning I still had the headache and upset stomach, so I called in sick. I'm going to work from home this afternoon though because I took Butalbital (Fioricet) and feel better (except for the stomach).

Zoloft scares me because I know how hard it was to get off the Lexapro, but I need to keep trying things if I'm going to get better, and plus I could use the serotonin boost. I've had so much anxiety lately.

I have some appointments to schedule (and a war to win)!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy 4th

Sorry for the inactivity lately. Work's still pretty stressful, and I'm tring to relax as much as possible. Also, I don't have much to say because I haven't seen my neurologist in two months (usually I go once a month). He wanted to give the medicine time to work (ha! does it ever work?), but well at least I'm $40 richer (my specialist copay).

I see him again July 7, so expect more activity soon after that.

Hope everyone has a happy holiday...Go America.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Work stress and the 2-week headache

I've had a headache for the last two weeks, not including the weekend. And my job (which is a Monday-Friday job) has been a nightmare.

Coincidence? I think not.

That's all that needs to be said right now. I actually don't have too much of a headache right now (just some neck tension), so I'm going to go work out, something I haven't been able to do in, well, two weeks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Acupuncture my butt

I had a free consultation at a local acupuncture clinic last week. Here's my experience:

The first person I met with, who is an herbalist and possibly their receptionist too, took me back in a private room and asked me some generic questions, and then asked me if I had questions. I asked her how often I would need to get acupuncture before seeing an improvement in my headaches, and she said it depends on the person, but since I've had headaches for 8 years it might take a while. Then I asked her the cost, which is my #1 concern:

$85 a session, plus a fee for the initial visit!!!

YIKES. And that is after taking the supposed 20% off that most insurance companies would offer. And she said that the acupuncturist would probably want to see me twice a week at first.

So then she went to see if the acupuncturist might have a minute to talk to me. And what do you know, he did. I felt special.

Now, I didn't want to be fed empty promises, but the acupuncturist could have at least explained why acupuncture might work and how it's helped others with chronic headaches/migraines. Instead, he simply stated how headaches were "his favorite" because he helps 90% of headache patients, mentioned one lady who quit her job and her headaches went away (what does this have to do with acupuncture...?) and then he PITCHED me, which is part of what I do for a living (in PR), and let's just say I can recognize bull crap when I see it. He flaunted his years of experience, awards, and the fact that all the neurologists in the area send their headache patients to him, and then asked me what other acupuncture clinics I had looked into, because he is head of some board and knows all about them and can tell me how good or bad they are and how much better he is.

One random thing he did was look at my tongue and tell me I was stressed because the tip was red. And he said I wouldn't need acupuncture very long since I'm young (which contradicts what the lady said).

He also told me that his office doesn't "accept" everyone who is interested, and that some people just don't want to get better and they wouldn't be able to help those people anyway so they turn them away. I can't imagine why anyone would not want to get better, but I'm not denying there are people like that out there. However, at the end, when he handed me his card and told me to call if I wanted to set up my first appointment, I played dumb and asked if he would contact me to let me know if I was accepted, and he said not to worry; that I was definitely a candidate for acupuncture.

Wow, I feel special yet again.

Why do places have to play games like that? I really want to try acupuncture some day when I can afford it, but thanks to this place, I am extremely turned off to the whole thing.

Has acupuncture helped anyone with headaches/migraines?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Imagery to Reduce Headaches

A good friend of mine cut out something on headaches from a magazine and gave it to me the other night. It's a short write-up on how "practicing guided imagery can reduce tension and headache frequency." It refers you to a free how-to video from the Mayo Clinic's Web site. Here's the link.

I've been wanting to try acupuncure, but I found out it's about $50 a session, plus initial consultation fees which vary. I'm wondering if the relaxation aspect of acupuncture is what works. So I think I'm going to try doing the video and yoga regularly to see if it helps my headaches. Unfortunately, the vido doesn't work with my mac, but I'm going to try it at work. I was able to read the transcript and it seems to be breathing exercises. The article (sorry, I don't know what publication it came from) says to "concentrate on the throbbing artery in your head and visualize it relaxing and the blood flowing more easily."

It sounds a little cooky, but as always, I'm willing to give it a try if it helps my headaches!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Going off Lexapro

So, before I started taking Lexapro, which my neurologist prescribed for headache prevention, my eye had been twitching, either from my contacts or from stress at work (I think both). The twitching stopped after I was on Lexapro a while. Now that I'm going off it (I was on 10 mg; now I'm taking 5 mg every other night), my eye's started twitching again! It only does it when I get overwhelmed with stress, which is a lot. I don't think my life is really that stressful though - I think it's more that I stress over everything.

The Lexapro didn't help my headaches, but I guess it helped my anxiety, and now that I'm going off it, I'm struggling. I usually do a lot of volunteer work and try to stay busy, so unfortunately I'm going to have to cut back on some of that and give myself time to relax. I wish I had the money to do acupuncture, take yoga classes, be a stay at home wife (haha), and go to the beach every weekend.

Oh but then I'd stress about germs on the needles, pulling a muscle, my husband thinking I'm lazy, and traffic.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Sinus Buster

An employee of Sinus Buster saw my blog and sent me free samples of different formulas of the nasal spray, including the "Headache Formula" pictured here. It's similar to Sinol, but it has feverfew in it, which is also supposed to prevent headaches with regular usage. I've been using Sinus Buster twice a day for about two weeks. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped prevent any headaches yet, but I'm still going to keep trying it and maybe increase the dosage. It's much easier to use than Sinol - the sprayer works better (note for anyone who works at Sinol who may be reading this!).

Check out more info on Sinus Buster here.

My neurologist is letting me go off Lexapro, which I was originally excited about since I don't like being on antidepressants. I've been on it since late last year though. I split the pills in half a few nights and then stopped taking it for about two days. My neurologist had told me to wean myself off it, but he didn't get too detailed. I got SO depressed, so right away I took half a dose (5 mg) and have been taking that every other day and will keep doing that until I run out. It's scary that medicine can affect your emotions that much.

"Good gosh, are you writing a book?" Quote from my husband. It's Friday night, and it's been a rough week at work and my world of headaches (probably related to the work stress), so I'm going to listen to the hubby.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Elimination Diet

Related to the comment in the post below about food triggers, I am reading a book now that mentions how wheat is a common food allergy and can trigger headaches/migraines (there are several others of course). It also talks about how to do an elimination diet - do a "water fast" for a day, then gradually add in one food item at a time. Easier said than done in my opinion - most meals involve things that are mixed together. Are you supposed to eat strawberries all day, for example, and the next day add in carrots? Yikes. To respond to the person who left the comment, I would see a nutritionist. I'm also small (5'7''/116 lbs) and I can understand your concern. I've had to stop medications that made me lose too much weight as a side effect. I'm sorry that you are feeling depressed too. Please know that there is always hope. Start by seeing a nutritionist, and/or neurologist and/or psychiatrist/psychologist. I'll keep you in my prayers!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Are migraines more painful than childbirth?

A reader of my blog suggested that I read "The Pain Cure" by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. and Cameron Stauth. The copyright is from 1999, so it's not the newest book out there, but I decided to check it out. In one of my posts from a long time ago, I mentioned that I bet migraines are more painful than childbirth (or something along those lines). I've never had a kid but I've had plenty of migraines. Now I'd like to take a moment to say, I told you so.

Chapter 2 has a "Severity of Pain" chart that lists various ailments by numbers 1, being least painful, through 10, most painful:

1 - Moderate sunburn
2- Sprain
3- Mild arthritis, or moderate tension headache
4- Phantom limb pain, or broken bone
5- Back pain
6- Severe arthritis, or fibromyalgia
7- Invasive tumor pain
8- Giving birth
9- Infant colic

And drumroll please...10 - the most painful ailments - Migraine headache, or severe burn.

So you might be wondering, as I was, how can they tell that infant colic is more painful than those other things when infants can't even talk? I'm not a doctor, but I'm guessing someone did a study and tested brain waves to get these results. The source of this information or details involved are not listed on the chart or in that chapter, but I'm not finished with the book so maybe it discusses it more in depth later on.

But I've experienced 5 of these ailments, and I think this pain scale is pretty accurate.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nasal Sprays

So, I haven't been using Sinol very long and right now I have a cold so when I do use it, I can't even feel the sting, but...I'm going to go ahead and jump to the conclusion that nasal sprays aren't going to help my headaches. Maybe I should try a different one like the one suggested by a reader (see comment in previous post), but I think that my headaches are from hormones or something internal that nasal spray won't impact.

I hope I'm wrong. In the meantime, I'm going to keep using the Sinol and keep trying other new things I come across as well.

And of course, I'll note everything on here.

Sometimes I wonder, what if there's some crazy cure for headaches that nobody knows about because it's so random? Like if you stand on your head for 10 minutes each day, you won't get headaches. Or eating dirt can cure a headache. I'd try it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


(From Sinolusa.com)

I finally found Sinol, with the help of a Sinol rep. He said that CVS does in fact carry Sinol, but it is not in the nasal spray section; it is in the headache/pain med section on the bottom shelf. With a $3 off ExtraCare Card coupon, I ended up paying about $12. I tried it about 3-4 times yesterday, and boy did it sting! It was not bad though, mainly like the sensation you get when you need to sneeze. It didn't help my headache, but the directions say to use it when your headache starts and unfortunately mine started at work before I had the chance to purchase the Sinol. My neuro said I may need to use it regularly before I see results, so I'm keeping this stuff with me at all times!

My husband thought I was dumb for trying something just because someone mentioned it on my blog, but I reminded him that I spoke with my neurologist first, and I told him that it's natural and made from peppers, and he said "oh" and gave me that "fine you're right" look. Haha.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Neurology Appointment Update

At my neurology appointment earlier this week I asked my neurologist about the seizure medication I mentioned in my last post, but although he seemed to be willing to have me try it last time, this time he said it wouldn't work for me because I'm getting tension-like headaches and not migraines (I could argue that the Fioricet stopped the migraines, but I don't argue with doctors...or anyone for that matter, except my husband). He thinks that since I haven't had a migraine in about a month, the Bystolic must be working. Speaking of Bystolic, a few posts down is a very encouraging comment from someone who is taking the drug, and - get this - it's WORKING! It's good to hear that actually happens - seriously!

Also at the appointment I asked my neuro about the glucose test and he said it wouldn't show anything and that everyone gets headaches when they eat too much sugar. I also showed him a printout about Sinol and he said he hadn't heard of it but he had heard of capsaicin, an ingredient which I believe is derived from hot peppers and is clinically proven to help headaches. He seemed very interested in hearing if it works for me. CVS no longer carries it, and I couldn't find it at Rite Aid or Whole Foods either, so I e-mailed the source to find out where I can find it. I'll probably have to order it online. They revamped their Web site; check it out if you're interested: click here.

My neuro put me BACK on 75 mg of Lyrica because he thinks it worked for me at one point, which I don't remember, but I don't remember any bad side effects either, so I'm willing to try it. However, I quickly discovered a side effect the last two days - drowsiness. I take it at night but it still makes me drowsy in the morning; in fact, I turned off my alarm in my sleep and was really late for work yesterday and today. I'll have to set a second alarm Monday. Thank goodness I have a nice boss!

Meds I'm currently taking: 10 mg Lexapro, 10 mg Bystolic, 75 mg Lyrica, plus my Mirena IUD and a daily multivitamin, and Butalbital (Fioricet), Aleve or Exedrin Migraine when I get headaches.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Nightmare side effects

Now that the Bystolic I'm taking has had a few weeks to sink into my body, I've noticed an interesting side effect - nightmares. I've tried other meds that caused realistic or wild dreams, but these nighmares are pretty intense. And by intense, I mean VIOLENT. I won't go into detail but I'm glad I'm getting off the stuff.

At least this side effect wasn't really in "real" life. It could have been much worse, and that's not why I'm getting off it. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped my headaches a bit. They've been awful and very persistent lately.

Tomorrow I have a neurology appointment, and I'm almost certain my neuro will take me off Bystolic. I'm going to ask to try Zonisamide, or Zonegran, which is a medication for seizures that my nurse sister recommended, and when I brought it up to my neuro last time, he said he was considering that one.

I really wish insurance would cover more than just drugs so I could try acupuncture or something different. I'll ask my neuro about Sinol tomorrow also. I have a list of the ingredients printed out. CVS no longer carries the nasal spray but the Sinol people said that Rite Aid does. I hope I can at least give it a try.

I'll post an update on my appointment sometime this week.

Although my headaches are a part of me and it seems like they will never go away, I'm STILL fighting this war, and I WILL get rid of them some day (even if I have to wait until heaven- they WILL be gone)!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rebound Headaches

I've had a headache almost constantly the last week. At first, I was taking medicine (Butalbital/Fioricet and Aleve) and it would go away, but I didn't want to take too much medicine so I didn't take anything at least one of the days. Unfortunately, I still got a rebound headache from taking too much medicine. Yesterday I had to quit "cold turkey." The headaches don't bother me as much when I can take drugs, but not taking anything yesterday just about killed me. My head hurt SO bad. Fortunately it didn't become a full-blown migraine, so I could still work.

My husband was really supportive. He's used to me having headaches and doesn't really treat me any differently when I have them, but he could tell I was hurting. Maybe I was exaggerating, but I told him that people go to REHAB or the hospital to get off drugs and I was doing it on my own and it was painful. Different drugs, but still...

This morning, I woke up several times with an awful piercing headache, but after hitting snooze a few times, I finally got up and felt better. I've had a slight headache all day (work was ridiculously stressful), but I feel 10 times better than I did yesterday.

I checked CVS for SInol (see comment two posts ago) so I e-mailed them today to ask if they are going to carry it. Yes, I can order it online to try it, but I'd rather talk to a pharmacist and make sure it won't interact with my medicine. I'll write on here once I hear back from them.

Btw - many medications for migraines don't cause rebound headaches but unfortunately the ones I've tried don't work for me...they actually make the migraine worse.

Tomorrow's Friday. Woohoo! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Med/Head updates

I've been on Bystolic for more than a week and haven't noticed a single side effect! I'm still on a small dose of Lexapro and have mild dry mouth from that, but that's it. However, I haven't noticed an improvement in my headaches. I had a bad sugar headache yesterday from my sister's bridal shower (I can't say no to cake...and chocolate, and punch, and cream puffs, and jelly beans and well you get the idea). Mom said I should get my glucose levels checked so I'll ask my neuro about that. I'm also going to find out more about Sinol, a new nasal spray that helps headaches/migraines mentioned in the comment (thanks Rebeca!) on my last post. If anyone's tried this, please share your experience!

Happy Easter everybody! I'm proud to be a Christian and worship Jesus who died for our sins so we can choose to follow him and live forever in heaven. God gets me through life, and I could not deal with many things - including my headaches - without him. If anyone wants to know more, just ask!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New medication - Bystolic (Nebivolol)

Yesterday at my monthly neurology appointment, I asked my neurologist about seeing a nutritionist, and he said he didn't think I would find anything, but I could try it. I decided to save money and instead start writing down what I eat on my headache calendar for days I have headaches. I also asked about Zonisamide, which works for one of my sister's friends. He said he was considering that one, but first he wanted me to try a new medication, similar to Toprol but it shouldn't lower my heart rate down to the 40s (per min.) like Toprol did.

The new drug is called Bystolic, or Nebivolol. WebMD's description is here and Drugs.com's is here.

What's scary is it was approved last December...it's only March. It is so new that my pharmacist couldn't read my doctor's writing because they weren't familiar with the drug, and when I finally did pick it up at CVS, the description was non-existent. On the tear-off sheet that lists side effects, instructions etc. it says "This is a BEIGE, TRIANGULAR-shaped, TABLET imprinted with FL on the front and 5MG on the back."

I kid you not.

In addition to the research I did from the above links, I called my mom to see if she's heard of it (she's a nurse). I left her a voicemail, as I did for my sister, who is also a nurse. They must both be working right now. If they tell me anything earth-shattering about this drug, I'll be sure to post it! Guess I'll go ahead and start taking it tonight...I have a cold and a 100 degree fever, so maybe it'll knock me out. :o)

Friday, February 29, 2008

My body hates me.

Happy Friday everyone! I'm really sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. See, I write for a living (public relations) and I've had two newsletters to put together this month. So when I get home, which is late, the last thing I want to do is write. But since I'm taking a quick lunch break at my desk, I decided to write this post.

So, in regards to my title...let me start by saying I am *NOT* pregnant. And yet I've had many of the symptoms. I've been eating a lot, and I'm always hungry. Except when I'm nauseous, which has been frequent. I think the nausea is from migraines/headaches I've been getting. Then there's the moodiness - more downs than ups unfortunately. I'd rather not get into the rest.

But I don't have a headache right now. Woohoo!

My next neurology appointment is March 10. If anyone has any ideas I could bring up to my neurologist, that'd be great. So far I'm going to ask him about:

-fish oil
-food triggers
-and one type of medication that my sister told me about but I don't have it in front of me since I'm at work.

Any other ideas?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekend Migraine

I'm going to be honest. I go to bed and wake up later than usual on weekends. I'm really good at keeping my sleep-eat schedule during the week, but I don't want a strict schedule on weekends.

On Friday I had weird random pains in the back of my head, on and off all day. I can't remember when I went to bed but I'm guessing it was around midnight. Saturday morning, I got up around 7:45 - not terrible - but then I took an afternoon nap on the couch from 3ish to 6:30ish. Waaaay too long! I woke with an awful headache that got worse and worse toward the night. I didn't take anything because I try not to take medicine for headaches at the end of the day because sometimes they go away after I sleep for the night, and if I still have it when I wake up, then I'll take the medicine. I have to be careful not to take medicine too much because I could get rebound headaches, so I try to save it for the really bad ones...

...like this morning. I had trouble going to sleep last night because my head hurt. Next thing I remember I'm waking up at 4 a.m. with a pounding migraine. I use a cervical pillow to help with neck pain, but it's really hard and it was killing my head, so I threw it on the floor and used half of my husband's soft pillow. When I woke up for church, the migraine was there but seemed to be getting better, so I didn't take medicine.

I went to church and had a cup of tea to see if the caffeine would help me feel better. Then about 10 minutes into church, when I stood up with everyone for the gospel reading, I started to feel bad, like I might faint, and then the nausea kicked in. It was awful...I tried to stay through the reading but I had to go near the end. I told my husband I felt bad, grabbed my purse and went to the bathroom. I didn't throw up, but I had to sit and close my eyes for a while. Once I felt less nauseous, I went to get some water and I took an Excedrin Migraine. I sat in a comfy chair in the lobby area and could hear the sermon, so I stayed there the rest of the service. I started getting cold and was shaky so I drank a cup of coffee. It didn't take long for the medicine to kick in, and I ended up going out and eating a huge lunch with my husband.

I'm starting to feel the medicine wear off, but I'm hoping after I sleep tonight it'll be gone. I'm dreading work tomorrow because I have a LOT to get done, and if I still have the migraine I don't know what I'm going to do.

I think I need a less stressful job to see if the headaches get better. What that would be, I don't know...I seem to stress about everything. Maybe I just need to try yoga again.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

M&M: Massage and Migraines

An article in the Sacramento Bee discusses the benefits massage can have on migraines. Click here to read the full article.

Since professional massage is expensive, the article lists three things you can do at home:

Hand reflexology: By pinching your fingers together, apply pressure to the web between your pointer finger and thumb and work the tenderness out for three to five minutes on each hand. This should take down the headache a few notches. Feel around this area for little curves under the skin, indicators of dehydration.

Foot reflexology: Sit down and put your bare foot on a tennis ball. Apply pressure while moving your foot around on the ball. Focus for 10 to 15 seconds on sore spots, then switch feet.

Light traction on the spine: Consult a professional to learn how to do this properly, then ask a family member or friend to try this method on you. Lying on your back, have them place a soft rolled terrycloth towel on the base of your skull before applying gentle traction from the C7 vertebra (the most protruding vertebra in the neck) up to the skull. Use 30-second traction intervals for five minutes total.

My comments:

Hand reflexology - lots of people, including my former chiropractor, shared this technique with me. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked for me, but maybe it works for some people.

Foot reflexology - can anyone say "Charlie horse?" That would most definitely give me a Charlie horse which would be worse than my headache.

Spine traction - my chiropractor tried this on me; didn't work.

Something that MIGHT work, though, is a head massage. I went to get my hair cut at a new place last weekend and the stylist massaged my entire scalp during and even a few minutes after washing my hair (and I was also in a massage chair). It felt so good and I think that would work on a tension headache. I'm either going to have to get frequent hair cuts or teach my hubby to do this.

On a different note, I went to my dentist yesterday and the girl who cleans my teeth (who is in her 20s like me) gets migraines so we always update each other on our progress (or lack thereof). She had been taking Topamax but it didn't work all the time and made her lose her appetite. Yesterday she told me a new side effect it had on her - kidney stones! She said they were more painful than the migraines, and her neurologist wanted to up her dose of the Topamax. Thank goodness she said no, and she stopped taking the Topamax. Now she is not taking anything, but she still had migraines with the Topamax so not much has changed. That's pretty scary; I think she was on the Topamax for only a few years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Migraine & Headache News/Info

For your reading pleasure...

-Click here to read about compact fluorescent light bulbs and their effect on people who get migraines. I don't have light sensitivity with mine, but usually mine aren't full-blown migraines, just bad headaches (trust me, there's a difference). The mercury in CFLs scares me. I hope LEDs become popular (and cheaper) soon. Not sure how those would affect migraines though!

-CNN article on migraines - check out the comments too.

-Symptomatic relief medications (these should not be taken regularly as they can cause rebound headaches and have harmful effects on the body over time)

-Medications for headache and migraine prevention (From my memory - which sucks - I've tried Propranolol, aka Inderal;Verapamil, aka Calan, Verelan, Isoptin; Amitriptyline, aka Elavil (discontinued), Endep; Desipramine, aka Norpramin; Doxepin, aka Sinequan; Nortriptyline, aka Pamelor, Aventyl; Escitalopram oxalate, aka Lexapro; Duloxetine hydrochloride, aka Cymbalta; Divalproex, aka Depakote; Pregabalin, aka Lyrica; Topiramate, aka Topamax...obviously, none have worked for me, and many have unbearable side effects)

- Additional medications, again from WebMD here (I've tried every "abortive" medication except Naratriptan (Amerge, Naramig) - some worked for a few headaches but then they would make my headaches worse...I don't think they work unless you get "classic" migraines)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

HEP update

First, an update on my HEP (see post below). I have "Lamictal" written down on my headache calendar, as well as "calcium channel blocker." My memory is so bad that I have no clue how I found out about those, but I googled Lamictal and I think it's a seizure medication. I've tried meds for seizures for my headaches, but I haven't tried Lamictal. I think I've been on a calcium channel blocker too, but I'm not positive. Those are two things I will ask my neurologist about.

My health insurance's Web site is undergoing maintenance, so I don't know if a nutritionist would be covered or not. I have an intolerance to monosodium glutamate (MSG) which makes me think that maybe food could be affecting my headaches too. If I eat MSG, I get awful flu symptoms but no headache (MSG gives many people headaches, but not me, go figure).

I have a tip that most people know, but I wanted to emphasize it on here. If you are taking a prescription (pill form), especially long term, and the instructions say to take it with a full glass of water, please do that. My mom is a nurse and she told me that if you don't drink a full glass of water, the medication can mess up your kidneys over time. In the past I'd drink as much as I could but if I was in a hurry I'd take a few gulps and that's it. Now, of course, I drink a full glass - I like my kidneys functioning. The bad thing is that I have to take my medicine at night (because it makes me drowsy) and that means I end up waking up once or twice in the middle of the night to pee. Oh well, my kidneys will thank me.

I've been running around all weekend and I'm starting to get a headache, so I'm going to relax. I hope everyone had a fun weekend. If you're struggling with headaches remember that you are not alone and I am praying for you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Headache Elimination Plan

Happy MLK Day everyone.

I've been thinking about my headaches and it seems like after keeping a headache diary for about 3 years, I'm not finding any patterns. I've tried tons of medications, have been to at least five neurologists, saw a chiropractor, and had a blood test.

Since my current neurologist seems pretty much stumped, I'm making a plan: my Headache Elimination Plan (HEP). I'm giving it a fancy name and am putting it on my blog in hopes that I'll actually carry out the plan. :)

1. Research everything I haven't tried and take notes to share with my neurologist on my next visit, March 3. I'll share the notes on this blog too.
2. Research food triggers and see if I can get tested to find these. Possibly see a nutritionist (after all, that's how I found out my intolerance to MSG)
3. Be diligent in eating, sleeping and exercising on a regular schedule.

If you want to add to my HEP, please do so!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hormones, birth control, headaches and doctors/specialists

I asked my new gyno about getting my hormones checked, and she said that would show nothing to help my headaches - it would only show when I'm ovulating. She did say that my spotting from the IUD would go away in a few months, and my neuro says if I can stop the spotting I'll have fewer headaches, so we'll see. I'll believe it when I see it (or DON'T see it...yuck...sorry)!

If you want to know a good birth control for headache-sufferers, my gyno recommended the Nuva Ring. My friend tried one and hated it, but I'm sure it depends on the person. I've tried various kinds of birth control pills, the patch (Ortho Evra) and the IUD that I have now. According to my gyno, the patch is about the worst thing you could try if you have headaches. She says if I really want to get rid of my headaches I should get pregnant - that worked for her. No thanks. :) I love kids, but I'd rather have control of my headaches first, then try to have kids (not sure if that would work though because I'd probably have to stop my medications before trying to have kids). I have LOTS to look forward to.

My gyno's husband works at a big neurology place in town, so she was asking if I tried that place. I said yes and left it at that (I don't think I had the best neuro there...he was more of a trial and error doctor - he tried medication after medication on me - and he didn't seem to care about ME and how I was handling everything like the neuro I have now does.) Anyway, our conversation went like this:

Gyno: Why aren't you on something to prevent headaches?
Me: I am - that's what the depression medicine is supposed to do.
Gyno: LEXAPRO??? Well have you tried Topamax?
Me: Yes, it didn't work and I lost too much weight.
Gyno: Any beta-blockers?
Me: Yes didn't work.
Gyno: Nor...
Me: ...triptyline...yes...and amitriptyline, too - it made me faint
Gyno: What about a calcium channel blocker?
(ME: I said I wasn't sure, but I just looked it up and I've tried Verapamil)
Gyno: Chiropractor or acupunture?
Me: Chiro, yes; acupuncture, not until insurance covers more of it!

I need to keep the same doctors so I don't have to go through that every time. :) I'm glad she cared though - maybe next year when I see her she'll know of something else I can try.

Thanks to all the doctors out there who take time to check out the physical and mental well-beings of their patients.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Neurologist visit

Yesterday I had a neurologist appointment. He apologized for not being able to help me yet. The last few visits he's seemed to be at a loss for what to recommend next; it's as though most of his patients try something and it works and they move on. With all the blogs out there similar to mine, I assumed that rarely happens. It's discouraging, but I guess it also means I still have hope.

His plan of action for this month is to lower the Lexapro (the expensive stuff) to 1 pill a day and increase the Desipramine from 30 mg/day to 100 mg/day. Since I've been having more headaches (tension) than migraines, he thinks that will help.

I asked him about having my gyno check my hormone levels and he didn't think it would show anything. I'll see what she says though on Thursday. My neuro told me to ask my gyno if I'm spotting from an irregular cycle or if it's from irritation from the Mirena IUD. He says I'll keep having headaches until I stop the spotting. I'd love to get rid of the IUD and get back on the Pill, because I'm having headaches either way, but I seemed to have more migraines on the Pill so I'm reluctant, and plus, as I've mentioned before, I had to pay $1000 for the IUD and it lasts five years. I'm only on year two.

More updates after my gyno appt. Thursday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

So many doctors!!!

Happy New Year!

Next week I see my neurologist and a new gynocologist. I hate to disappoint my neuro, but the Lexapro isn't working anymore. I'm very disappointed yet somewhat relieved because they cost $100 a month (60 pills total, 2/day); without insurance is about $180 for 60 pills, but I'm not going to get into my abscent-mindedness and why I know that.

I'm going to ask my new gyno if I can get my hormone levels checked. A friend from church keeps telling me I should do this because her sister-in-law has hormone-related headaches. I guess it couldn't hurt, but I don't know how my Mirena IUD will affect the results.

Speaking of the Mirena, I also have an upcoming appointment with a dermatologist (whom I've seen once before) for my breakouts...either caused by the Mirena or by the fact that I'm not on birth control pills anymore.

Last but not least, I have a dental appointment coming up as well. The girl who cleans my teeth has migraines, so we always compare medications we're on - last I checked she was on Topomax and it made her lose her appetite and didn't work too well (I had the same results when I tried Topomax).

Please comment if you're female and have had your hormone levels checked...I'm interested to see how that works and if it might help me figure out why I get headaches. Thanks!!