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I’m Back and I’m feeling great…temporarily that is!

This post is just to get me back to my blog.  It has been entirely too long and there is so much to catch up on.  I tend to do things gung ho for a period of time and then burn out and that is exactly what happened with my blog.  I am really hoping to get back to it, especially during this time of reprieve.

Just a quick migraine recap…I went to Mayo and they put me on Neurontin stepping me up to 2400mg/day.  I successfully made that step up and had my first 8 day window with no migraine and then it came back full force.  I was also prescribed prednisone for 2 months starting at 80mg/day for a week and stepping down 10mg per week.  I started the prednisone on June 8th and have been on it for 22 days.  And let me tell you I FEEL FANTASTIC!!!  I feel like I could do anything, go anywhere, be anyone, etc.  I even went Jet skiing for the first time which by the way brought on a major migraine regardless of all the meds I am on…so I still have to be careful.

But the one thing I am so very much enjoying is reconnecting with my husband and 2 kids.  They have missed me and I have missed them and it wasn’t until I started the prednisone that it truly sunk in that I have been completely absent from their lives for the past year and a half.  Yes, I made veiled attempts to be with them in the same room, but there was always this anxiety that a sound they would make would trigger a migraine, so I could never be fully present with them.  And now I am able to snuggle, spend time with and not be the snarky mom I have been for the past year.  Yes I still get frustrated with my 5 and 10 year old of course, but I don’t feel like I am going to strangle their necks because they dropped a marble on the floor.

I just feel happy!  I don’t think you can truly understand happiness and joy unless you have had it taken away and for that I can be thankful for the trials and tribulations I have been through over the course of the past year and a half.

I don’t look forward to the end of the prednisone trial (2 months), but at the same time I really don’t think about it much because I am truly able to live in the moment and feel happiness and relief.

I have lots to catch you up on: end of year school activities I got to partake in, vacation, dealing with migraine and kids on summer break fears and so much more.  So keep an eye out for more to come!  Sorry for the hiatus but it is good to be back!!!

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Test Results

I keep forgetting to post the results from testing done at Mayo Clinic. They all came back normal. So still no answers but in the long run it’s good that I don’t have cancer in the brain or spine or any of the incurable autoimmune diseases. But it’s been pretty rough week with the weather patterns the way they’ve been. So I still keep trudging along taking each migraine as they come. Finally over a 72 hr migraine…abortive meds were not helpful throughout this one.  No changes yet with new meds because it will take 8 weeks to get to the target dose and then another 5-6 weeks to know whether or not it’s working. If it works AWESOME, if not I go back to Mayo in August.  I will start the prednisone break on June 10th so that I am able to be there for my 2 boys over at least two of the summer months.  We already have a week long trip to Florida in June and hopefully we will be able to do some camping during the break.  I am also aware of the possible risks of prednisone and one of them is Headache, so hopefully that doesn’t happen to me.  And increased acid reflux, so hopefully the meds I am on for reflux will continue to keep it under control.  The side effects long term will have to be dealt with in the long term.

So for now I deal with the side effects of Neurontin: fatigue (both mental and physical).  But hopefully as soon as I make it to the target dose and stay on it for a little while my body will adust.  More importantly I hope it works!

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Mayo Clinic: The rest of the stay

Saturday:  The highlight of our trip. We met up with a college friend Chris Gottschalk and Niko. They picked us up and took us to a great restaurant called Whistle Binkies. It was so much fun and so nice out that we got to sit outside. 80 degrees and breezy…perfect! And I got my favorite dish…pan seared ahi tuna. YUM! Then on the way back, Niko gave us a mini tour of downtown Rochester.  We arrived back at the hotel just in time to our comfy clothes on to watch the new Hallmark movie 😀

Sunday: My mom and I laid low for most of the day, but we did go to Olive Garden….YUM!  I was pretty nervous about the upcoming Lumbar Puncture the following morning.  I have had bad experiences with the puncture itself and have also had spinal headaches that resulted from both punctures that I have had. 13062527_10154047653281897_1477015710969330656_n

Monday: Migraine is pretty bad so hopefully it will yield the best results.  The pressure was actually high and when they removed the fluid my head pain decreased. I am prone to the leaking spinal fluid and resulting spinal headache. It is just a wait and see now.

13055418_10154047658096897_8464084912672851094_nProcedure is completed. Fluid pressure was really up and when they removed the fluid my migraine did get better. Now we wait for results from testing and I go back to the hotel and rest.  And rest I did for the rest of the day, icing my back between sleeping.  12994542_10154051269991897_644240225602523312_n

Tuesday: I rested all day yesterday and most of the day today. I did make the journey to the hot tub this afternoon (Love love love my new Turbie twist. I have a hard time getting my hair up in a towel because bending over and standing up quickly both throws me off balance and increases head pain. Thanks to Mindy Richmond I have always wanted one because I saw it at her house. And now I have one and love it!!). I either have a migraine on the top of my head or there is still that off chance of a spinal headache but not nearly as severe as the 2 before so that is good news. My mom Sherry Dunne Weaver has been taking walks along the nice river walk. This hotel has turned out to be such a great choice. Hopefully I will have test results back tomorrow and know something more.

Wednesday: I woke with no spinal headache or migraine! Now we are off to have lunch with another college friend Mary Francis.  While we were waiting at the Gonda Building at Mayo Clinic for Mary, my mom and I finally had a chance to look around and see some awesome art work.

And then we were off to eat at a Dutch restaurant called Pannekoeken.  I love eating at new places that are not chain restaurants.  We all ordered Pannekoeken and the waitress came out singing Pannekoeken.  So much fun!

I still hadn’t heard anything towards the end of the day on Wednesday from the doctor,  so I sent a message and they said I could go home and wait for the results of the tests from there.  The initial test results came back all normal which is good but the autoimmunity and paraneoplastic results hadn’t come in yet.

Thursday: Our trip home was very uneventful.  I slept most of the way…stomach hurting and getting more and more congested.  So I only drove for 2 hours…luckily my mom was up for driving.  First person who came to greet me was Gideon with a big smile and a huge hug and he asked me if my migraines were all gone.  Buddy I so wish they were but I told him that the doctors are working hard to  make them go away.  When I walked into the house, I instantly smelled really weird in the house and it made my head pain increase…I finally figured it out and it was epoxy from Dan’s RC planes 😉  But I was really just feeling blah and my head was in a fog.  So I went to bed pretty early.  I took the first 300mg pill of Neurontin that Dr. Cutrer prescribed.  When I finally tried to go to sleep I couldn’t breath through my nose at all, and I was a little worried that I was having a reaction to the new med, so instead of getting to sleep in my own comfy bed, I ended up having to sleep in the recliner so I could breath.  Benedryl cleared up my sinuses finally but I didn’t wake up until 6:30am.  So thankful that my mom was still here and was able to take the kids to the bus.  I never heard anything this morning, so mom if you read this, thank you so much for everything.

Friday: I slept most of the day and felt really blah and foggy again.  I did send another note to Mayo and found out that the Dr. just received the autoimmunity and paraneoplastic results today but did not have time to review them properly yet.  Hopefully I will hear from them early next week.  It is good to be home.

I will be returning to Mayo for sure in August after I do the 2 month step down of Prednisone and have been on Neurontin some time.  I decided to wait on the prednisone (with doctor approval) until June so that I will be able to hang out with the kids instead of being stuck in my bedroom all day everyday.  So I won’t start prednisone until June 15th (which will also give me a break from migraine for our trip to Florida at the end of June).

 

 

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Mayo Clinic Day #1

Update from my first visit with my Mayo Clinic doctor: Dr. Michael Cutrer.
First of all he read through my summary before he met with me and had ideas of a plan before he met with me and all of my spreadsheets made things go so smoothly today. So my effort was not wasted.
The Plan: On Monday bright and early I go in for my third and hopefully final 😉 (wishful thinking) Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). BUT this time they plan on doing so much more with the fluid than before. They plan on running several assays to determine if I have any immune deficiencies or any other illnesses that might come in up on the testing. If everything from that testing and the pressure testing from the lumbar puncture itself comes back normal we will just have to wait 48 hrs and then we can come home on the other part of the plan…if something turns up I will go back in to see the doctor to discuss whatever they find further.
The medication part of the plan: someone finally listened to me that Prednisone works. That my headaches/migraines have an inflammatory response that seems to be helped by prednisone. So he is going to start me at a very high dose and step down every week over the course of 8 weeks. If anything to finally get some relief a little more long term than 1 week. And at the same time he is going to be titrating me up on Neurontin, a medication I was given at the same time that I was given Keppra (a drug I knew to cause anxiety), and we were never able to determine if it would really help. In fact I was only on a dose of 100 mg/day…and this doctor wants to titrate up to 2400 mg/day over the course of the 8 weeks that I am on Prednisone, so that when I stop the prednisone I am at the highest dose of Neurontin which will hopefully take over the pain prevention. These are hopes, not guarantees. But at least their is hope.
So now my mom Sherry Dunne Weaver and I get to enjoy the weekend and hopefully meet up with friends. So what are you guys up to this weekend: Chris Gottschalk and Karen Connell. I am pretty sure that we are going to head up to Minneapolis one day to see Jeremiah Carpenter and Kelly Carpenter if it works out for them. And Mary Francis we will have to try and meet for lunch if you can get away one day. I believe I won’t be at the clinic long on Monday and will want to rest…but maybe we can take the shuttle to where you work on Tues or Wednesday for lunch. So many folks in this area 🙂
Now that my anxieties are calmed, I know the plan and it makes sense…I feel a load of relief lifted off of me. Thank you for all of you who are praying (and that list is so long to tag everyone and I wouldn’t want to miss any, so just know that know that you are praying).
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The Plan: v 8.0 – Dr. Masih

Really bad night last night. Though the meds I am on provide brief periods of relief they still do not allow me to visit with many people (even 2 sometimes) without having a full blown, pain level 9+, headache. That is what happened last night. After company had left, I was left with a headache, pain level 9+ That lasted from about 5:30 until I was finally able to fall asleep. And then I was awake on and off all night with headache pain. I took a shower this morning and that seemed to help a bit. In addition to the headache yesterday I also made the mistake of not checking the ingredient list of Jelly Belly jellybeans. They are one of the few jellybean makers that do not use artificial flavoring. I tasted the
coconut and thought it’s just a tiny jellybean. Well it got me and for some reason it took awhile to figure it out, oh yah my head felt like it was splitting open. Once I figured it out I took my antihistamine and within
about 25 minutes the stomach cramping had resolved and I only had the head to deal with. Better one problem at a time than two.

I have been feeling like I am going to pass out every time I stand and walk and then I get extremely weak feeling from head to toe. Like I am having to lift a bar bell. I wonder why they never said anything in the hospital before I left. They just said drink lots of water. When my blood pressure plummeted to 83/43 they put me back on IV fluids but didn’t really instruct me how to manage when I left. So all of this advice has been ever so helpful.

So my doctor apt today couldn’t have been timed better. God is in Control …relax. I have to keep reminding myself of this.

Safe trip down. Praying for good direction from Dr Masih

Update from Dr: He agrees with the resident dr who had been treating me in the hospital that this is “just” a migraine. But he also agrees that I am an extreme case. So he adjusted the meds I am on (Increased Keppra, increased Elavil, and stop neurontin). I am to call him back in a week but in the meantime he wants me to look into 2 in patient headache clinics in case the increase in meds does not work. One of the clinics is in Chelsea, MI (Michigan Head-Pain Neurological Institute: MHNI) and the other is in Chicago (Diamond Headache Clinic).

It doesn’t seem like much of a game plan but at least it is something. In the meantime I need to keep overstimulation to a minimum and try to start getting some exercise as I can handle it.

Nathan Gillikin:  Heather, have they diagnosed your headache as hemipalegic migraine? Do some research on that. Hemi headaches are as debilitating as what yours sound like. My wife had a few of those. She had slowed speech and partial paralysis as well. One hospital tried to push meds for stroke one time. I had to step in and tell them about hemi-headaches. Not much is known about them and they are hard to diagnose.

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BP drop/meds/going home: The Plan v 7.0 – Sparrow/MSU neurologist

IV is back in. Apparently they don’t like it when your blood pressure drops to 87/43. I failed at drinking enough water. Wish they would have told me how much I needed. I drank my water bottle (24oz) over the course of the evening but it wasn’t enough. Oh well. Not really a big deal. It’s just crazy to see your blood pressure so low. And they repeated it several times.  They don’t really seem concerned which is really weird to me, because I kind off am???  I think they are just ready to get rid of me.  And I believe they will get their wish today. 😦

I just called the headache/migraine clinic at U of M and the wait is over a year and 6 months for just a general neurology consult. We just have to pray that the meds and the nerve block injections will do the trick.

I think I must have been clenching my teeth on my left side last night because it feels like someone punched me in the jaw. No pain on right side. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t leave the hospital with something
weird.

After the neurologist came in for the last time, he added one more medication to my ever growing meds list: Neurontin.

Neurontin (gabapentin) is an anti-epileptic medication, also called an anticonvulsant. Gabapentin affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain. Neurontin is used in adults to treat nerve pain and has been used to treat migraine.

So I leave the hospital today on the following medications:

  1. Elavil (1x per day)
  2. Flexeril (as an abortive)
  3. Neurontin (3x per day)
  4. Keppra (2x per day)
  5. Magnesium oxide (2x per day)
  6. Birth control (1x per day)
  7. Prilosec (2x per day)
  8. Zofran (as needed)
  9. Topomax (until I have titrated down and off)

And of course I can’t leave the hospital without something else weird happening, besides the very low blood pressure.   I woke up on my day of discharge and my ear was hurting on the outside edge.  No idea but it sure did hurt..but as with my last stay at Sparrow, they just dismissed it and sent me home.

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UGH!!!!!  How am I going to keep this all straight!!! Oh and let the side effects begin 😦

March 13th

I’m Outta here!