Tag Archives: Medicine

Health, Healing and Hippos

Apologies for the length, but I wanted to share some of my medical story. I pray it will help someone today.

My first “migraines” were all abdominal and appeared at 14 along with “womanhood.” I missed weeks of school at a time and I couldn’t explain that the pain was more than “cramps.” (Enter 4-5 years of naproxen.)

My first “head” migraine hit in college and I was so sick a dear friend basically picked me up off the floor at the radio station and took me to the ER where they admitted me. I really felt like I was going to die. The pain was 10/10 and I was 🤮🤮🤮 non-freaking-stop. They did an MRI or CT scan and the entire right hemisphere of my brain was lit up like a Christmas tree. That I remember. There’s other stuff I don’t, but I was there for 2 days. They loaded me with fluids and pain meds and dad brought me home where I had the weirdest “morphine dreams” ever.

Example (embarrassingly admitted, but still makes me laugh…) Jamey Karr, Greg Wheeler, David Le Blanc, David Kilburn, Paige Burrough Ballard, Lani Clark, Brian Frank, Mike, Carla, Tommy, and a few others were all eating out at Blackstone’s. But it was like a scene out of Tombstone and the guys were all in western wear. Paige, Lani, Carla and I were having a discussion about men in chaps.😜Next thing I know they are riding off into the Panhandle sunset on pink hippos. That’s right. Pink hippos. And even now the more I think about it, the funnier it gets…

Phew… back to reality.

For almost a decade and after two kids, I was still migraine free. Those were pretty decent years (aside from female problems that I no longer contend with and IBS, which I do.) Then in 1998 🤯 official diagnosis. I’ve had migraines ever since, but they’ve morphed and changed over time.

I have been on and off preventive meds for years. I even had a couple of years that were just manageable headaches. (But as a ⚠️ WARNING ⚠️ —do NOT take Excedrine migraine heavily… that ended up with a very painful bowel bleed and a lengthy hospital stay because of it. Excessive NSAID use is no joke.)
Then in 2015 🤯 I was diagnosed with Occipital Neuralgia (which I’d never heard of, but have become nearly an expert) and Pudendal Neuralgia (I’m not going into this one.) Apparently my entire CNS is a mess. Fast forward til last week and a half…

I had 4 ER visits in May and June. The pain was intolerable and like many other chronic pain patients, I deal with some depression. I was literally down and out on the 4th visit. That last bill was a whopper, but the ER doc on call was actually a pain management doctor who gave me a couple of nerve blocks I hadn’t had before (and I’ve had more than a few.) My migraine dropped from a 7-8 to a 5 instantly and was at a 4 at discharge. It stayed a 4 and after a good nights’ sleep (something new) I woke up with no migraine or ON pain. I seriously thought I was out of my mind. I hadn’t had a true pain-free day in months (years???)

So… I’m now seeing a pain management specialist, finding a new neurologist here in town (not a fan of the one assigned) and throwing in alt “meds” that help – vitamins, essential oils, massage and going to go to a chiropractor when I get the all clear from the tests and nerve blocks that will be done.

I know weather triggers the ON and migraines – as does lack of sleep. I have certain foods I’ve totally cut from my diet as well. Those are an almost instant reaction. (One of the many reasons I don’t like to go out to eat is I like to know what’s in my food and the consequences are truly dire if I don’t stick to a pretty regimented diet.)

I wanted to share this because I don’t want anyone to give up on ANY problems they have – whether mental, physical or spiritual. There ARE answers out there and you may need a multi-disciplined approach. The doctor I saw last week was “feeling around” my head and neck. I had lost about 75% of lateral movement (didn’t notice because of constant pain) and my head and neck were really swollen. So… 4 new meds (a couple are just short term anti-inflammatory etc) and my dear hubby could actually see some curve in my neck again.

There are many options out there, but research, the right doctor and patience are huge.

I’m broken, but not shattered, and while it sounds hokey to some, I really feel like God is helping to mend the cracks and imperfections in this mortal shell. There have been many days I’ve asked myself if this whole thing is actually a test from God (think modern day Job.) I don’t know. But what I do know is in casting the burden to Him and sharing a bit of my story I hope I might just help someone else. I feel for the first time in years that I’m in a path to victory and to God alone will go the glory for bringing the people into my life that even just by being a friend is healing to me. Thank you for being there. Pink hippos…

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’…

Why Yes… It IS in My Head

“And then a throb hits you on the left side of the head so hard that your head bobs to the right…There’s no way that came from inside your head, you think. That’s no metaphysical crisis. 
God just punched you in the face.” 

There are approximately 13 million Americans who suffer from a painful neurological condition called migraines;  it’s more than 10% of the population or 1 in 4 households.

I am one of those Americans.

It’s believed that migraine headaches tend to run in families and there’s a 70% chance that a child of a parent with migraines will develop them at some point in their lifetime. Wow.  I can’t say that knowing that years ago would have made any difference (as my mother has them.)  It doesn’t change the fact I have them.  I can’t say that I would have even been “prepared” for them. 

What can prepare someone for a monstrous pressure in the base of their cranium / brain stem which steadily becomes the feeling of a ball peen hammer hitting you upside the head repeatedly while at the same time crushing your skull in a vice? This of course (for me) is accompanied by other symptoms I don’t feel the urge to discuss at this time. TMI. 

The sad thing is… many people think folks with migraines don’t have a serious problem, they’re faking it, it’s “just a headache”… Gads… I could go on and on.  Consider this.  Migraine attacks can cause strokes, comas, aneurysms or death.  Each and every time someone with chronic migraines HAS a migraine we actually wonder HOW BAD it’s going to be. I’ve ended up at the doctor’s office / hospital getting injections to knock my ass out because it was that bad. 

“ We once saw a documentary on migraines. One of the men interviewed used to fall on his knees and bang his head against the floor, over and over during attacks. This diverted the pain from deep inside his brain, where he couldn’t reach it, to a pain outside that he had control over.” 
I wish I could describe that pain, deep inside the brain.  I’ve said on more than one occasion to my husband and friends that it would hurt less to run my head through a concrete wall.  It’s true. 

But did you know there are migraines where there is NO pain? A couple of friends of mine at work have these silent migraines. They don’t have the headache, but they have other symptoms. They are just as debilitating. 

There are 10 or more different types of migraine and many people have a combination migraine that sets in – which is what makes diagnosis and treatment so hard.  I have a tri-graine: Abdominal, Basilar and Transformed / generally without aura.  In a good month, I will only have a few. In a bad month, I have had 25-31 days worth of headache-hell. And months stack up. Fortunately, I’ve been running on the low end of this for a few months. I’m grateful. For a while there, it was f-ugly.

I’m on day two of this particular migraine attack – triggered by nitrates and yet another weather system that moved in. (I swear I could be a meteorologist.)  I read a blog post the other day where a woman was on her 112th day. My God. 112 days of wanting to ram your head into a wall or beat it against the floor because the external pain is controllable. I so get it. I feel ya sister. 

“His headache was still sitting over his right eye as if it had been nailed there.” 

I have run the gambit on prescription drugs – lemme tell you, some of that stuff is like taking candy. Just doesn’t work worth a darn. And the kicker is… REBOUND migraines / headaches. For the love of all that is pure and holy in this world. You think you got it licked and it comes back meaner and badder than the original.  Tylenol 3 and the “cets” do that to me… Lorcet / Percocet / Darvocet… etc. That’s a big no-no. I’ve been through everything from Imitrex to Maxalt and Treximet (which is the only thing that works for me right now. Dare I say, “THANK YOU, TREXIMET.”)  I also take daily preventative drugs that work okay, but still doesn’t solve the problem. Of course, I’m assuming the problem can be solved.  I don’t know that is the case. But I can hope. 

I’m searching for options. I’m looking at acupuncture, massage, herbal remedies, nape piercings, and other alternative therapies with no decisions having been made yet. I’m tired of the drugs. I’m tired of the migraines. I’m tired of being sick and tired of being sick and  tired and all anyone seems to want to push are pills. 

However, with that said… I really am tired (migraines tend to do that) and I need to get some rest. I’ll let you know how things go at a later date and what decisions I’ve made.  I have a feeling it’s all going to be a process of trial and error that will fall under my blanket of “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” 

Cheerio and ta-ta for now.

Source: MedlinePlus