Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hello Again, Neuro

It had been a while since my last neuro appointment, so it was nice to go back last week. My migraines have been bad lately and since my Ketorolac expired and a previous neuro had prescribed it, I figured it was a good time to pay her a visit. And boy, do I mean pay...the specialist copay for my new insurance is $50. That adds up when you see a lot of specialists!

The appointment went pretty well. My neuro mainly listened to the headache/migraine update I gave her, plus some ideas I have. She's going to see if my new insurance will cover Botox (not getting my hopes up). Another idea I had was doing a spinal tap aka lumbar puncture because I've never had one and it's my hobby (more like second job) to rule things out. She was able to schedule it right away, but when I called my insurance I found out I'd have to meet my $1,000 deductible before they'd cover it (well, 80% of it). So far I've paid $0 toward my deductible. I left a message with the neuro billing person asking how much a spinal tap costs, but this lady is chronically unresponsive. My online research shows it's about $300-$400, so I canceled my appointment and moved spinal tap back on my "One Day When I'm Rich" list.

The other week after doing a big run (big for me being 20 minutes without stopping, and the other 10 minutes walking), I started having sciatic nerve pain, and I talked to my neuro about that. We agreed that I need to keep exercising since it may help my headaches, so she referred me to a physical therapist and now I'm doing that once a week. Luckily the pain hasn't been bad, but it's good to play it safe. And that copay is only $25.

Other than that my neuro appointment was fairly uneventful, but it was still good to check in with her. I still really like this one and hope to keep going there for a while.

By the way, my thyroid test (which was ordered by my gyno) came back normal. No surprise there.

I was talking with someone today and she recommended 5-HTP for my migraines. Have any of you heard of it or tried it? WebMD makes it sound scary, but if it works for migraines I'd give it a try!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gyno Appointment Update; plus Bachmann News

I saw my gyno and neuro this week, but I'll start with the gyno. If you remember from a few blog posts back, I've been having bad cramping and was hoping to get an ultrasound or some kind of testing done. My gyno felt that my symptoms weren't alarming and she didn't see the need for me to have an ultrasound. I asked about endometriosis, and she doesn't think I have it.

Maybe that's good news, but then what would be causing my pain? We decided that I'm probably on too high of a dose of the progesterone cream, so this cycle I don't have to take the progesterone and next cycle I'll cut my dose in half (using it once a day instead of twice). I hope this will clear up my acne, decrease my stomach bloating, and stop the cramping, all side effects of the progesterone. Plus I'm convinced that's why my migraines have increased, although the whole reason I'm on it is so they'll decrease. Have I mentioned how much I hate hormones, both synthetic and bioidentical?

My gyno also reviewed my charts (I take my temperature 7 a.m. each morning and chart it to track where I am in my cycle) and noticed that my temperatures are abnormally low, so she asked if I've had my thyroid checked. I have, but it's been about five years and she said things can change within that time, so I had the blood test done. Once I get the results I'll share them in a blog post.

Even if you don't keep up with politics, I'm sure you heard about this idiotic article about Representative Michele Bachmann's migraines. I could go on and on about why this and other similar articles are ridiculous, but I can't say it better than Diana Lee in her article. Well, maybe I'd change the intro, but I prefer to avoid politics so I'll leave it at that. ;) Check out Diana's article, and please take her advice on defending migraineurs as people bring up this issue.

Neuro update coming soon. Until then, be well, dear friends! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


My long weekend migraine finally went away completely on Monday - in fact, I didn't even have a headache! It was terrific. So was Tuesday. By Wednesday, I started to get a slight headache and today I feel the pain again, boo. At least it's not a migraine so far.

So did dog sitting last week help my head? As much as I enjoyed having my "nephew" around, the answer is no. To his defense, he had been to the groomers a few weeks before he came here and he still had a strong perfumey smell on his fur, so I took him outside and hosed him off (which he hated). Unfortunately, that only helped a little. Maybe that's why I still had headaches/migraines even though I was taking him for long walks/runs almost daily. Then again, it probably takes longer than a week and a half of regular exercise to see an improvement in your health. Either way, I still want a dog.

Speaking of exercise, I've been keeping it up as much as my head will allow. My body's been really sore from the running, which is probably normal and I've made sure to stretch so I know that's not the reason. I think I just need to get used to it. Another thing I've added to my headache arsenal is Gatorade.

Lemon-lime deliciousness

My mom read somewhere that hydration is important but that drinking only water may not be enough because our bodies need electrolytes. She said I should try Gatorade, so I went to Costco and found a big container of the powder kind so I can make my own and avoid the BPA in the bottles. I realize that I'm adding fake flavoring, fake coloring and more sugar (from what I can tell, the sugar is real) to my diet, but if it helps my head it will be worth it. I'm drinking one to two glasses daily - all at once, not sipping throughout the day, because I like the enamel on my teeth, thank you. I'll try it until I go through the entire container, and I'll let you know if it works!

Giveaway: my blogger friend Steph at Head Wise is doing a giveaway (a care package). So far, I'm the only one who has entered and that doesn't seem fair, so please go leave a comment to enter - the deadline is tomorrow! By the way, the giveaway is thanks to another blogger friend, Jessica at Painfully Speaking. These gals ROCK!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Headache vs. Migraine

My migraines have been bad lately. Migraines, not headaches (although headaches have been bad too). I had to switch my work days last week and today I didn't make it into work until 11 a.m. Luckily I only work 20 hours a week. If you have migraines, you know what they're like. They get in the way of life. But for those of you who read or stumbled upon this blog who have never had one, I thought I'd share a taste of how they differ from typical headaches, in timeline format based on my current migraine.

 Photo credits: Tibo (headache car); Icarus Kuwait (migraine car)

My nearly every-day headache: I start to feel head pain. I begin to assess the pain and decide whether or not I should take drugs.
My current migraine: Yesterday I have general headache pain and take GelStat earlier in the evening (I ordered a bunch of this online to give it another try). Last night I'm watching TV. I get up from the couch and my head goes BOOM BOOM. I say, "oh SHIT." I've been good about cursing lately, so this is a bad sign. I make some ginger tea to help my nausea, put an ice bag on my head, and then decide to try and sleep it off. I wonder what could have triggered it - storms, running, yoga, chewing tough steak, hormone issues from the cramping I've been having, a combination...

Headache: I sleep like a log.
Migraine: I wake up on and off due to the pain, sometimes moaning. The pain pulses with my heartbeat. Every time my husband moves in bed, even slightly, my head throbs. My soft pillow hurts.

Headache: I take 2 Aleve and go about my day.
Migraine: I wake up early and get some applesauce so I can take meds. It's an unopened jar and normally I'm a machine when it comes to opening jars, but when I strain my head throbs so I wait for my husband to get out of the shower so he can open it for me. I try eating a rice cake in the meantime but the chewing motion hurts my head too bad. I take 2 Butalbital, wait for it to kick in (which means the dizziness begins), take a a quick nap, and start getting ready for work. I make appointments for next week with my gyno and neuro (shocking that she could get me in so soon) because this is getting ridiculous. Then I tell my boss I'll be late. I'm lucky - he's always been understanding about my health.

Headache: Generally the Aleve works. If not I'll suffer through work and nap when I get home.
Migraine: My head starts to throb again every time I get up at work so I have to take 2 more Butalbital and drink a cup of caffeinated coffee. I have a meeting with my boss and stumble through the agenda, pausing and using the wrong words a lot - gotta love migraine brain. I work until the dizziness wears off so I can drive home. I'm still a little dizzy though.

Headache: I take a short nap and usually it eliminates the pain.
Migraine: I nap about 4 hours and wake up with a throbbing head again. I take two more Butalbital with dinner, along with ginger tea and my ice bag. This the the first time I've taken the maximum daily dose, and that makes me nervous.

Right now, I'm at the dizzy stage again. It's pretty much a guarantee that the head pain will start again soon, but by that time I plan to be in bed asleep for the night. I'm praying that the migraine doesn't last long and I wake up with a pain-free head, but my migraines usually last at least two days.

I'm hoping my doctors can help next week. My Ketolorac has expired (and I'm supposed to limit it to twice a month anyway), so for now my Butalbital is my strongest med and it's failing me. I'm starting to feel desperate, and that's never a good feeling. But I know a lot of you can relate, sadly.

Note: I'm not trying to belittle headaches in any way. They suck, too; especially the chronic ones, which wear you down over time.