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.
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
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:
- Elavil (1x per day)
- Flexeril (as an abortive)
- Neurontin (3x per day)
- Keppra (2x per day)
- Magnesium oxide (2x per day)
- Birth control (1x per day)
- Prilosec (2x per day)
- Zofran (as needed)
- 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.
UGH!!!!! How am I going to keep this all straight!!! Oh and let the side effects begin 😦
I’m Outta here!
Today they started a new preventative medication and another abortive medication.
Zyprexa (Olanzapine) is an intermuscular medication that they were using as an abortive to try and give me pain relief. Too bad it didn’t work.
Keppra (Levetriracetam): They gave me a 1500mg dose through the IV to try and stop the migraine cycle. Unfortunately it gave me severe anxiety…and I mean severe. I kept trying to tell the nurses that this was happening but it was an intern and she just asked me if I wanted some Benedryl. “I don’t know, you’re the nurse, ask the doctor, can’t you see I am crawling out of my skin” It was awful and I was pissed off at the nurse to boot. I finally had to call in the main nurse on staff and have her call the doctor to come…I was very serious about needing help. So they just added another medication to my list of medications: Elavil.
Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant. So when they put me on this medication they took me off of Prozac, the antidepressant that I have been on for 5 years and was working very well. The anxiety never really did go away from the Keppra.
However at the end of the day I still feel like I am crawling out of my skin.
The next abortive medication (a new term for me…abortive medications are meant to be used to stop a migraine in its tracks. Some medications, like Topomax are preventative medications) they tried was called Imitrex (Sumatriptan). However it made my head hurt so bad that there was no point continuing to try with that med. They also made Flexeril (a muscle relaxant) an abortive medication because I convinced the doctors that it had worked in the past, so they put it on a list that I could take every 8 hours as needed.
I think the goal is to knock it completely out even if for a day and then figure out how to keep it away. Pretty sure I am on board. 22 days has been a long haul to go without complete relief.
They are also now sending me for another MRI (MRA/MRV) to get a better look at the vasculature in the brain.
Then they tried the steroid Depakote/Depacon and I reacted very poorly to it. Tight chest and lots of anxiety and can’t sleep. No more steroids for me (In retrospect almost a year later, I really wish I had not taken steroids off the list so quickly because I discovered that Prednisone was extremely helpful down the road). Add EKG to my list of firsts. A precaution because of my reaction and continued reaction to the steroid. But more anxiety and respiratory not cardiac. Again just precautionary. Then they gave me a Flexeril as I tried to calm down after the reaction to Depacon and then, most importantly spent the rest of the day watching Downton Abbey.
Update: still in the hospital and still trying to get the headache pain under control. Good news (from a Dr stand point) nothing that they can find is causing this headache. So I can see how it is good news; no tumor (Arnold Schwarzenegger “it’s not a tumor” sorry), no aneurysm, blood clot, infection. Nothing really bad that they know how to test for. Bad news: that puts me in with with all other migraine sufferers who have no answers for what is causing the headache or how to specifically treat it.
Doctors Plan: Continue trying to knock down the headache so that it is manageable for me to go home, try new preventative meds to keep it from coming back once we knock it out and follow up with the neurologist.
My plan: I am currently considered a fall risk because of the meds they are taking me off of and so getting up and about is difficult. Therefore I have no idea if my head is actually better or not so Dan is going to come up tomorrow and get me up and around and see how I am doing then just to make sure the pain is actually knocked down when I am up and about not just when I am laying flat. In other words manageable pain while functioning.
I went to my family Dr today. It was supposed to be the apt that would clear me to go back to work and I would be all better. No such luck.
The new game plan is two fold. Part 1 is if I experience anymore of the unbearable pain I go straight to the Sparrow ER. The other part of the new plan is that he is referring me back to the neurology team that treated me in the hospital. My leave from work is extended for 6 weeks as far as my dr is concerned. It still has to be approved but hopefully it will be.
My current medication, Topomax (Topiramate), has so many side effects it’s crazy, so my family dr said I could start stepping it down if I wanted too. On the flip side I finally got a couple of days of minimal relief. So it is a toss up!! so I pray specifically about this. The meds are only just helping and only a little, but the relief is welcomed. I did figure out that when I got my first dose of 25mg Topomax at the hospital (Wednesday), I woke up the next day and the photo sensitivity was a bit better and the headache wasn’t so severe. Thursday the doctor upped the Topomax to 50mg and I felt a little bit better. Friday they added Elavil because my anxiety was really bad and sent me home on 50mg Topomax. By Saturday the tension part of the headache was gone but the pain over my right eye was still there, just a little bit better. This continued for Monday/Tuesday. But by Wednesday the headache returned in full force and continued to increase in intensity through Thursday and Friday (when the cognitive disabilities began). The intense pain continued through the weekend into Monday. On Monday March 2nd I increased Topomax to 75mg and during the next 3 days the headache pain level had decreased to manageable. I believe there is a trend with the Topomax but with every increase in dose, the side effects begin to increase as well.
Side Effects of Topomax: At times I don’t remember where I am or how to turn something off I have turned off 50 times (all brief but scary). My mind gets so jumbled I can’t answer simple questions. I have great difficulty starting a conversation. I switch words around. I can’t do simple math problems. In other words cognitively, Topomax isn’t so good for me. So weird that medication can do such strange things to the brain.
How could an allergic reaction to an allergy shot have landed me here? That’s all we want to know!! And when is someone going to help stop this damn headache.
I kept waiting to do an update because things were plugging along with little to no change with a headache that was always there but I was learning ways to cope with it by taking showers and lots of naps. The medicine was making me extremely tired and I was napping a lot. I am also adjusting to being home; the sounds, the lights, the smells even. I am still preferring a dark quiet room though which is to be expected with a headache of any kind. I am starting to gain back some energy as well. The Dr told me that it would take 3 days for every day I was bed ridden to recover. Ugh! 3 weeks to regain the strength I lost during my hospital stay.
Yesterday I went for a follow up apt with my family dr and we have a game plan. I am so grateful that my dr understands Topomax both on a personal and professional level. I feel so much better knowing that I am in good care. So that is good. However, after every Dr visit over the past 6 weeks something always and I mean always got worse. And this visit was no exception, nothing major. But my headache got worse within hours of going to the Dr, nothing drastic but the headache kicked it up a few notches which is a big bummer but not entirely unexpected really. It could also be the weather adding to things. The Drs said the worst of this rebound headache would be for the first couple of weeks and then only time will tell. But it sure is making me start to wonder whether or not I should just stop going to the Dr altogether:).
At any rate dark, quiet places are my friend and are truly lovely.
On a positive note: Gideon got excepted into the Great Start Readiness Program for next year. How exciting!!! My little boy is
going to preschool!!!
The last 24 hours have been horrendous…no pain meds at all, only the magnesium. Oh and in the midst of this horrendous pain, they decided to do the MRI. MRI + Massive Pain = severe anxiety and no MRI. As I sat waiting for my turn in the MRI I began have a panic attack because I knew there was no way I could possibly make it through…my nurse finally came down and pumped me full of morphine. It was as if I could feel all of my worries and pain melting away. I made it through the MRI and brought me back to my room.
A neurologist finally came in and laid out a plan to treat the rebound headache. And so it begins. They have given me the first round of medicine, Topomax, to treat this, what should I call it, shitty headache. I’ve been told that the side effects could be interesting. For example my nurse who had also taken this medicine told me it made her stupid. She would order food at a fast food restaurant, go to pick it up and wonder who ordered it for her or she would get up to go to the bathroom and couldn’t find the bathroom in a one bedroom apt. so this should be an interesting next couple of days.
They tell me it could take 2 to 3 days for this medicine to work, if it works, and if it doesn’t work they try something else. so it looks like I will be in here for a little while yet. On a positive note and even though I feel bad, I am really happy that my mom and Bob are coming home. When I was going into the MRI and was in so much pain all I could think was ” I want my mom” and now I get my mom. Up until today Dan had been so sick he couldn’t come up to the hospital. I was so glad that he was feeling well enough to come visit today and bring me a few things from home. I am so thankful for such a supportive family and so many supportive friends I love you all and thank you for all you’ve done including all the prayers. I’ll try to update again tomorrow.