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!!