Saturday, March 23, 2013

Living With Pain

This post has been written in my head for quite a while, but has yet to make it from fingertip to keyboard to blog. For the past 8 months, I've been plagued with migraines. To say "plagued" sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? And yet, that's how it feels. Over half of the month, I wake up with a headache. This headache is not just any headache. It's one that has the power to make or literally break my day. If I decide to go ahead and take Excedrin, it may or may not help, and if it does help, my day turns out all right (albeit, a bit jittery). If I don't take anything (or sometimes, even if I do), my headache will most likely get worse and worse over the course of the day until it's unbearable to do anything but lay down and wish that I were not here.

I've been prescribed myriad high-strength migraine medicines, but they don't work, especially because you're supposed to take them at the onset of the headache, which is prior to when I wake up, so, thus, an impossible task. Ibuprofen doesn't even touch the headache, and often, the only relief I get is from sleeping. After talking with co-workers who also suffer from migraines, I started taking more supplements: Vitamin B2, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Vitamin B12. These helped for about 2 1/2 months, and then it was like the migraines came back with double the power and a vengeance against me, to boot.

I finally asked my general doctor for a referral to see a neurologist. I met with her on Wednesday the 13th, and she prescribed an extremely low dose anti-depressant that's supposed to replenish the serotonin levels thought to be depleted when one suffers from migraines. I took it for 3 days before suffering from the first side effects. Now, mind you, I'm a slight person: I weigh 115 pounds and am pretty dang fit, so things often affect me faster and more powerfully than your average person. That being said, I think everyone (especially me, even though I have a very long history of allergies to medicines) was surprised by just how fast these symptoms hit. Saturday morning I woke up with a tremor, and my heart seemed to be beating abnormally quickly and heavily. I gave myself a lovely panic attack and nearly fainted, all while D was feverishly looking up common side effects to this drug. They were all there, so we both thought it would be all right if I continued to take it.

The worst part about taking this drug is that my doctor had informed me it would take at least a month before I'd feel migraine relief. With these symptoms adding to my already-debilitating headaches, I didn't really know if I could last the whole month, but I soldiered on, thinking it would pay off in the end. Until Thursday.

I saw a new naturopath on Wednesday the 20th who was quite taken aback at my high blood pressure. I've never had such high blood pressure in my life, and now I was beginning to get quite concerned as well. I went home after getting blood taken for possible food sensitivities, and thought it was all just par for the course. Thursday, I woke up with even more pain, heart palpitations, and the scariest feelings in my chest I've ever had. I called the advice nurse to make sure I could stop taking the medicine without any adverse side effects (HA!), and then asked D to stay with me all day to make sure I wasn't going to die. By the end of the day, I felt okay, even though my energy level wasn't amazing, so I figured the drug was already working itself out.

Friday came, however, and by the evening, I literally thought I was having a heart attack. I've never been so scared in my life, so D rushed me to the nearby urgent care so I could get checked out. In the time before he got home, I started putting together a list in my head of folks I should quickly text to tell them I loved them before I died - that's how terrified I was. When I told the desk clerks that I had pain in my chest, I was immediately rushed back to get my blood pressure measured, and it was indeed very high - so high that I thought they would be getting together a will for me to sign. Thankfully, D was there with me every step of the way, so in my head, if I had to die, at least it was while I was with the love of my life.

Thankfully, when I got placed in a room (which happened rather quickly - it seems that the words "pain in chest" are magic when it comes to hospitals!), the nurse who was attending to me said that the numbers he was seeing on my charts were, although a little disconcerting, not nearly bad enough that I should think I was dying. In fact, he -- and later the doctor as well -- said that people live with those kinds of numbers for years. I can't tell you how much better this made me feel. Although it didn't take away the pain or lessen the pressure, it was as if a different, invisible layer of stress had been lifted. I wasn't going to die after all!!

Another technician came in and did an EKG, and finally the doctor came in and had a great talk with me. He listened to all my symptoms, concerns, and questions, and told me I truly didn't have anything to worry about. He told me to go to the MRI that I have scheduled this coming week, and to try to deal with my stress a little bit, as that can be a cause of migraines. He thought the migraines were probably the main cause of my high blood pressure, and that, if I was able to lessen their frequency, my blood pressure should probably resolve itself and go back to normal.

I can't even tell you what a relief that was. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm free of the headaches, nor is my blood pressure even back down to what it should be yet, but today I woke up feeling like I wasn't going to die (a great improvement over the past week!), and very confident about the healing road ahead.

I realize this is an insanely long post, and there are probably only two of you who have actually read to the very end (thank you!), but I wanted to tell you all of this for two main reasons: the first one is that you might be wondering why my posting here has gotten a bit limited. The answer is that it's kind of hard to feel motivated to cook, write about the food and then publish it when your head is pounding and your vision is blurred. The other reason is because I feel like so few people actually talk about the pain they're in that I wanted to be sure and mention it here. I'm 29-years-old and very healthy, yet I have been stricken with this chronic pain that has seemingly appeared out of nowhere and doesn't seem to have a clear cure. It's terrifying being in this spot, and I know of very few other people who have spoken about chronic pain, though I know there must be thousands of them who suffer the same or even worse than I do. Let's try and be open with this pain, and share it with each other, in the hope that it may make it feel just a little bit better.

Thank you so much for reading, and please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.

2 comments:

K said...

So sorry to hear about your migraines, it sounds like hell! But so glad that your not dying. I hope you csb find some relief asap !

Katelyn said...

Ugh!! I'm glad you shared this. So sorry and I'm also hoping you heal soon.

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