Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Internal Medicine Doctor

Gotta keep this one brief since I'm on my lunch break. Quick update...

My mom who is a nurse wanted me to try a different avenue other than neurologists since I've seen five with no luck. She recommended seeing an internal medicine doctor or "internist" (not to be confused with "intern"). They're like primary physicians but more in-depth and according to the American College of Physicians (see the link), "they are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may strike at the same time."

The bad news is, of my migraine friends on Twitter, only one has had luck with an internal medicine doctor. The good news is, someone HAS had luck with one. My desire has always been to find the cause of my headaches to treat them, and I feel that an internist might be the way to go since they cover such a broad spectrum.

Another reason for seeing an internist is I want to get off Lexapro and Lyrica which do not work and I need a doctor to do this. My neurologist will not be happy with me, but I haven't seen her since April and her new facility is still trying to get in United Healthcare's network (my insurance), so there's no telling when I'll be able to see her next.

My appointment is in one week. Wish me luck!

P.S. - When I spoke to appointment scheduler and asked if they handled chronic headaches, she said they'd see me and then refer me to a specialist, but I said been there done that - I want to be treated by an internal medicine doc and find the cause, and then she had me speak to the triage nurse who said she'd have to schedule the appointment first to see what they could do.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I'm overwhelmed with - everything.

I'm in a hole at work and I can't dig out. I think it's because all I've had lately is writing assignment after writing assignment, and I have major trouble concentrating which I blame Lexapro and/or Lyrica for. This is causing me lots of stress.

Plus I've been having trouble sleeping which throws off everything.

Also my headaches seem to be out of control. At least I haven't had any really bad migraines lately, since I've said goodbye to hormonal birth control. But I still have almost daily headaches, and some get so bad that medicine doesn't have an impact on them.

But I always try to end on a positive note, so here are some things I'm grateful for:

* God. He fills me with hope and gives me strength to deal with my pain.

* My acupuncturist. Although the six sessions I've had so far don't seem to be helping, I still have hope. Some of my fellow blog and Twitter migraine sufferers have had success with acupuncture and say it takes a while. Today my acupuncturist told me to show up at 2:00 next week, which is when community acupuncture ends, because he wants me to do a private session where I can lay down - for the $20 community acupuncture cost!!! :) I'm excited to try another approach.

* My job. Even though it's stressful, my boss is flexible with my doctor's appointments. Plus, I'm blessed to have a job and health insurance.

* Family. They are all supportive and understanding. Plus my husband and I finally booked a trip to Seattle for next month. Can't wait!

* "No." I've finally been able to say no to people (I don't have a choice really) and it feels great. Having a more open schedule and taking a break from things is wonderful...or at least it will be once work calms down.

Remember that no matter what you're going through, it always helps to count your blessings.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

One Month Gluten Free

First of all, an inspiring read on migraines and going gluten free. This blog post is by the person I met on Twitter who inspired me to try a gluten-free diet. She has celiac disease, and when she cut gluten from her diet, her migraines went away. While I do not have celiac disease (according to a blood test) I'm still thinking there could be a chance I have some level of gluten intolerance, which is why I'm trying a gluten-free diet. Here's her blog post, My Migraine Story - A Gluten Free Miracle.

Second, a VERY helpful read if you're planning to start a gluten-free diet, How to Start Living Gluten-Free.

And to add my own experience...I started a little over a month ago by eating up all my food and giving away extra flour, Bisquick, Kashi bars, etc. Then I went completely gluten free immediately by eating mostly unseasoned and unbreaded fruits, vegetables, meat, rice and potatoes. Throughout the past month I've tried gluten-free foods from Whole Foods, Kroger, Harris Teeter and Earthfare. They all have pretty good selections, and I was happy to learn that Kroger, which is my primary grocery store, labels gluten-free items (such as cookies or cereal that would typically contain gluten). When I shop I carry a list of ingredients that contain gluten so I can check foods I'm unsure about.

For breakfast I have gluten-free breakfast bars or fruit, for lunch gluten-free frozen dinners or a salad, and for dinner I'll usually have a veggie, rice and meat. I've also tried GF pasta (made from rice or other grains), quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), which is a healthy herb/grain that you can eat like rice or use in recipes like meatloaf, and Tamari - gluten-free soy sauce (yes, soy sauce contains wheat). For snacks, I have corn chips or gluten-free cookies. Eating out has not been too difficult. I'm used to having to check to see if restaurants have MSG-free options since it makes me sick, so now I check online menus for gluten-free options as well. Many places like PF Changs, Chili's, and Outback Steakhouse even have special gluten-free menus online. I've also tried a kitchen in Raleigh that lets you pick up meals that are guaranteed gluten free. They have a killer zucchini bread! And just yesterday I bought a gluten-free chocolate cupcake from a bakery selling at the local Farmer's Market that was out of this world! :)

I went an entire month without cheating, although I wasn't 100% strict either. I did check my pills and lip gloss, but I don't worry about lotion, shampoo, makeup, and cross-contamination issues. Since I don't have celiac disease, I'm guessing I don't need to be super-sensitive. BUT yesterday, I could not resist a bite of wedding cake and the crepes station at a wedding. I wanted to see if I'd get an instead headache. However, I already had a headache before the wedding, and although it did get worse, I think it's because of the two strawberry mojitos I drank!!!

So the big question is have my headaches improved? In June I had 26 headaches. Today is July 12 and I've had nine headaches so far. But the three non-headache days were in a row, which is unusual.

Of course if you read my blog, you know that I'm also doing acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and some different types of vitamins. Any of those might be helping.

For now, I'm going to stick to my gluten-free diet for five more months, or at least that's my goal.

P.S. Thanks for all the gfree people on Twitter who have been happy to answer questions and who post helpful tips!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Acupuncture Update

I've had four acupuncture visits so far; one per week. Unfortunately I'm still having headaches almost every day. I had a total of 26 headaches in June. A friend told me today that she saw a Duke study on acupuncture and headaches, and it took about 12 sessions for improvement, so I've decided to give it that many. Here's an article on acupuncture - it explains how it works, which I wonder each time I go! Thanks to @ManageMigraines on Twitter for the link.

In addition to the community acupuncture, I've been doing what I guess is acupressure where I tilt my head to the side and use that side's hand to push on the opposite side's area between my neck and shoulders, if that makes sense. When I push it, the pain radiates to my head. I'm supposed to push it until the knot that's there breaks up.

Also, as you can see from the picture, I'm on lots of fun non-big-pharma pills. So in addition to the Lyrica and Lexapro that my neuro put me on and I'm going to get off as soon as I see her next, I take the following: women's multi-vitamin, iron (not headache-related), magnesium, fish oil/omega-3, vitamin B complex, Chinese herbal migraine pills which are the black beads in the picture (10 twice a day) and 800 mg Ibuprofen or 2 Aleves when I have bad headaches.

My gluten-free diet is going very well. After eliminating food I couldn't eat from my kitchen, I printed gluten-free menus from restaurants that have them, printed a list of ingredients to avoid, and visited several different grocery stores to see their gluten-free foods selection. I'll blog more about it soon.

Hope all my American readers have a wonderful Independence Day, and I hope all my readers are headache-free for the weekend! :)