Did I Say Thirty Needles?

This post won’t be interesting to most people, but for those who can relate to chronic migraine.. well, as the kids said in 2005*…Holla! The rest of you can stop reading now.

In my last post describing my battle with chronic migraines, I promised an update so here I am updating. I had my first round of Botox for migraines on March 1st and now, after two months, I am about to go in for the second round. My neurologist claims that a second round is routine because some people don’t receive results after just one treatment.

First I should say that I fully appreciate the aesthetic results of the procedure because my forehead looks like it did two mortgages and three jobs ago. It’s great. But when I said “30 needles” what I really meant was “31 smallish injections.” But if you’re like me, you will tell your neurologist that these injections are nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to the average migraine. At times I feel like I could get my hand caught in a drill press and I would say, “…but man, you should feel these headaches…” And if you don’t know what a drill press is you have obviously never been employed in a Midwestern factory like I have, so here is a photo.

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The fact that I’ve gained twenty pounds after starting the pain medication four months ago is unpleasant. Indeed, I am having fewer and less crippling migraines (think only four this month compared to fourteen or more) but it is hard to know if this is the result of the Botox or the medication.The weight gain is most certainly due to the medication and also due to the fact that it has made me so lethargic I choose to eat in front of the television rather than working out. But the question of “would you rather be fat and in less pain or thin(ish) and chronically depressed and in terrible pain?” would result in a resounding “bring on the cookies and Botox, please.”

I guess I will see in a month or so if the second round helps more than the first. In the meantime, tomorrow I will be shopping for larger pants and admiring my big fat smooth forehead in the shop windows.

*http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=holla

Voted Best Drill Press in 2016 https://thoroughlyreviewed.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Drill-Press1-300×300.jpg

The $1600 Nap

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a vacation meant leaving everything at home…including migraine headaches. Instead, every vacation in my memory includes at least one debilitating migraine; our family trip to the amusement park where a migraine solicited a nap on a picnic table surrounded by throngs of people, our trip to New York City when a hot day in Central Park ended in an early night in bed, to mention just a few. When I went to Dallas on a business trip, I spent one fun filled evening in the hotel room with a scarf wrapped around my head. I could go into vomit stories, but I’m afraid that might just be too much excitement for one blog, plus the stories are pretty gross and occasionally just talking about it gives me a migraine so I refuse. Today. Anyway, I have gotten to the point where the potential of a migraine almost makes it seem more appealing to just stay home, but I’m not willing to give in to that level of apathy quite yet.

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Which leads me to the time I last visited my family doctor, to talk about Prozac. She asked me what I thought was causing my depression, and I told her that, beyond the normal battles of family life (which seem normal to me but I’m beginning to wonder), battling headaches on a daily basis is starting to wear me down. She then told me that she recently met a new doctor in town who specializes in headaches, in fact she “loves talking about headaches. And so I thought of you.” She thought of me, out of the hundreds of patients she sees on a monthly basis.

So I started seeing a headache specialist- a neurologist- two months ago. She prescribed¬† steroids, beta blockers, and Amitriptyline to counteract the pain I would experience while weaning off my daily doses of Excedrin Migraine. Apparently that stuff will give you liver damage and stroke, if you’re not careful. And believe me, I’m not careful at all when I see a migraine coming. Sometimes, lying in bed with that pain, I imagine methods of relief that include power drills or just sweet, sweet death. In the meantime, though, these new medications are quite enjoyable, and making me into the kind of calm, quiet person you see and wonder if she’s drugged. Except my dreams are crazy and actually pretty fun to think about later during the day when I’m bored.

It’s not only migraines that are a problem, but the daily rebounds headaches I live with because treating a headache before it becomes a migraine is important, although not necessarily effective. When my neurologist asked me how much Excedrin I was taking, I said, “Two a day? Sometimes four, if the first two don’t work.” Actually, once I took six and a volcano began to erupt in my throat and I could feel my kidneys. I don’t actually think it’s normal to feel your kidneys so that was the last time I took six.

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Get in my belly!  Photo cred: fashions-cloud.com

“So,” my doctor asks after some mental math (there is a reason some people are cut out to be doctors), “you’re taking somewhere around twenty per week?”

And I promised myself I would be honest. Plus I don’t think there is a jail for over-the-counter Excedrin abusers. So I said, “Well, if you put it that way…”

The doctor then requested a brain scan and an MRI and told me that she would start working for approval from my insurance company for Botox for Migraines. She said it normally takes about two months for approval.

The person who helped me schedule the MRI asked me three times if I thought I needed sedation during the procedure. After the third time I asked her “Do YOU think I need sedation?” I was starting to feel like I would be missing out on something if I didn’t do it.

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Common, you know you want some sedation. Photo cred: SNL

“Are you claustrophobic?” she asked.

“Not especially,” I asked. “But how long will it take? I do have a hard time laying still for a long time.”

“You should probably be sedated.”

So apparently the MRI clinic left voice mails on my voicemail-deficient phone a couple of days prior to the event, but I didn’t receive them. So, because I drank water just before the appointment,¬† I was told that they couldn’t intravenously sedate me, but she should give me two Xanax. Which ended up being the exact right amount.Big props went out to my defective phone.

After drugging me, a pleasant woman chatted with me for a while and then put me into a machine. It was an “Open MRI,” which is different than the normal kind and more open, I hear. So open and pleasant, in fact, that I drifted into the most peaceful nap I have taken in ages and when I awoke 45 minutes later, I felt like I had been to a spa. Relaxed and rejuvenated, was I. I began to wonder what actually happened to my brain during that so-called MRI. Whatever it was, the lady told me I did a “great job!” but I’m giving all the credit to Xanax.

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I don’t look like this, but I felt this pampered. Photo credit: Mayfair Hotel and Spa

So over the last few weeks, I have been receiving phone calls from a number I don’t recognize. And due to my deficient cell phone, I have no idea if the calls are trying to warn me of a brain tumor, a stroke, or simply that everything is hunky dory in there. I have this thing against answering the phone (a story for another time) so I’ve decided to wait to talk to my neurologist, because she is a pain-relieving genius and also because the idea of having foreign objects existing inside my head doesn’t scare me like it probably should.

Tomorrow I meet with the neurologist again, and I believe we will be talking Botox (if the teeny-tiny possibility of a tumor is ruled out.) The idea of thirty needles poking into my head is so much nicer than the idea of another migraine, so I am looking forward to it. And I would be lying if I said that I don’t have a small hope of an injection or two in the squint wrinkles between my eyes. In fact, if I end up with a smooth forehead, youthful as a fetus, it would be all right by me. Because I deserve it after all I’ve endured.

I’ll keep you updated.

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Looks like a bad freckle make-up job. Photo cred: http://www.sheknows.com