Monday, August 12, 2013

I tried.....but I couldn't do it

I am on a lot of medication, and recently I have been re-evaluating what I am on, why I am taking the medication, and if I STILL need to do so.

I was able to wean off two medications, and cut the dosage in half of another medication. This made my kidneys very happy, since they have to filter all these substances.

I have suffered from migraine headaches for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid I remember having headaches, and hiding behind a door  because my dad wanted to wrap a vinegar-soaked rag around my forehead to help with the pain. (That was an old Italian remedy.) Now I understand that the smell probably would open up the sinuses if they were blocked and probably WOULD relieve SOME pain, IF I had a sinus headache.

I finally mentioned to my doctor that I suffered from migraines after she questioned the result of a blood test showing some strain on my kidneys. She couldn't figure out what was happening until she said, "The only thing that could cause this test result is if you take a LOT of ibuprofen. Do you?"

I laughed a little and said, "Are you kidding? I take them like candy!"

"Why?" She asked.

"Because I have headaches all the time. Migraines."

She couldn't believe that in all the years I had been seeing her, that I never once mentioned it to her. I have no idea why not. I think because it was a way of life with me. A new day, a headache. That's what I was used to. The record was 17 days in a row with a headache. I just wanted Jim to cut off my head. I think at that point he was tempted to do so. I'm sure I was not pleasant to live with!

The doctor put me on a prophylactic dosage of Topamax, which I take two times a day. This usually prevents migraines, or headaches of any kind, from happening. If one should happen, then I take another special pill within 20 minutes or so at the onset of the headache. This pill does wonders.

I have been on Topamax for years. How many years? I don't know. More than 8 years. 10? 12? I can't remember.

And therein lies the problem.

Topamax has several side effects. One large one is memory loss. Topamax has been nick-named "Dopamax" because it makes people "dopey".

I know that being forgetful comes with getting older. Everyone I talk to tells me that they, too, have had times that they've forgotten someone's name, or where they put things, etc. I feel that I am worse than the average person my age when it comes to memory loss. Is this due to being on Topamax? Probably.

I decided that I would try to wean myself off of Topamax.  How do I know if I still needed it? Last Friday I started with half the dosage. By Friday night I had a migraine. We were away from home, by my daughter's house, and I had packed that special "pill" with me. I took it and my migraine was gone by the next day. Saturday I went back to my full dosage of the medication.

We had a wedding to go to in Iowa which was another 3 hour drive. I had reserved a non-smoking hotel room in advance, but when we got there, I found out that it was on the second floor. The hotel had no elevator (we're talking Super 8 here), and stairs and me don't agree. I asked if there were any rooms available on the first floor and the clerk found one and switched us. But she neglected to inform us that it was a smoking room. IF she would have told us that, believe me, I would have CONQUERED the stairs!

We were only in the room about 45 minutes before we had to leave for the wedding. The smoke smell didn't hit me, it just smelled closed up and, well, smelly. But when we came back from the wedding, it DID smell smokey. I thought I wouldn't be too bothered by it since I wear a CPAP mask connected to a machine. (You might wonder why I didn't demand another room. I assumed that the hotel was booked because when we pulled up, I saw a couple sitting in their car, the dome light on, while the woman was shuffling through papers. It looked like she was looking for other hotels in the area.)

WRONG. All night I felt like my head was in an ashtray. The pillows smelled of smoke, and even though my CPAP machine has a filter, I smelled smoke. I was very, very sick with a full-blown migraine the next morning.

I had no more "special" pills with me (I usually only carry one since it is so rare that I get a migraine!), so I had to suffer all the way home - which was a five hour drive! Nothing worse than being sick when you are in the car, and light and sound bother you!

We finally arrived home, I popped a pill, and went straight to bed. Two hours later I became human and surfaced.

Today I awoke with a slight headache again. Three headaches in four days. That is not good.

This is what I learned.

Don't fix what isn't broken.

Don't f*ck with the headache medicine!

I'd rather be dopey than walk around with a migraine.

So if we should meet on the street, don't take offense if I don't remember you. Just reintroduce yourself, okay?


JoJo said...

Wow that sucks. I've only had a migraine a handful of times in my life but they were memorable enough. I really feel for people who get them all the time. I really thought I was going to have an aneurysm.

Nicole Thomas said...

Shoot, really? I just started Topomax this past week. I am just now starting to feel slightly dopey, but I thought it was just the Monday morning slugfest. I've had headaches my entire life too... no other medication works except for strong RX pain killers after it starts. So for the first time, I'm trying to take something to prevent it from starting. I haven't had a migraine in a week, which is a miracle.

Now I know not to mess with it! I am also on a shitload of meds, and I'm trying to evaluate the needs of them. Shoot, I should have written this post myself!

Ami said...

I'm so sorry you're stuck with such awful headaches, but glad the topamax works for you!! My doctor suggested it once but the side effects scared me enough that I decided not to try it.

I am fortunate with my migraines (if that's possible) because they're hormonal about 90% of the time.

The sumatriptan (generic imitrex) takes care of the headaches most of the time, and sleep and excedrin help the rest of the time.

I used to get sidelined for three or four days every month.

in the coop said...

Valuable lesson learned, then.

That had to be one miserable car ride home. My husband gets migraines, and it is painful just to watch him. I can't imagine the pain. When I simply get a normal headache (which isn't even very often) I wonder if I'm dying from some horrible tumor.

I'm glad you have medicine that can take care of the pain for you, even if it makes you dopey.

Country Gal said...

I used to get bad migraines when I was younger I would pass out from them .I also had to be in a dark room with total quiet to help get rid of them but now it is once in a while to this day do not know what caused them . Mine are now cause by sudden air pressure change or weather related and I can usually catch them before they get bad ! They say migraines are hereditary which I believe as my mum suffered terribly with them some times for weeks at a time and back then there was no meds ! Just aspirin then came Tylenol ! I hope your headaches subside and you can fine the cause and get them treated !

Rae said...

The headaches sound awful. I know from taking care of a few people that had them how miserable it is to deal with them on a regular basis. If Topamax works then you need to stick with it. No sense in suffering. Watch those non-steroidal pain relievers like ibuprofen though - they are kidney killers. Many people end up on dialysis from taking them and don't even realize the damage they are doing to themselves.

labbie1 said...

Hi, my name is Yvonne and I live in a 5th wheel. What was your name? ;)

BTW, what are your feelings on Essential Oils? I don't sell them--NOT a participant in any MLM. I am getting certified as an aromatherapist though. Just wondering because I would be happy to see if I can be of help with the migraines. :)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh gosh Pat...I've had some migraines, just enough to know what they feel like, but not enough to even imagine how horrible it must be to have them regularly. And second-hand smoke is one thing that brings mine on. (My MIL was a heavy smoker and I got a headache every time we went to her house (she didn't smoke in ours) ...I used to tell Bill "but I love your mother (I did). I don't know why she gives me a headache!"

You stay on that medicine, hear? Your brain is operating just fine (how could you blog so beautifully plus everything else you do if it wasn't?)

Brian Miller said... name is brian....smiles...
ah i feel for you...migraines are nothing to mess with...i used to have to do med adjustments with the kids i counseled...and always had to watch side effects...some are worse than what they fix...but others....

Liz said...

I finally found something that takes care of my headaches (I refuse to call them migraines because while they are miserable, they aren't nearly as bad as I've heard migraines can get). It's so nice not to have to constantly worry about getting them. Dopey is a small price to pay for not being in pain.

Lynda said...

What if I meet you on the street and don't remember you? Do we act like strangers or do we decide to be friends at that point? Maybe if we just don't remember each other's names, we can have fun anyway. I forget names all the time but can still talk with people pretty well. Medicines are the pits many times. There are a couple of meds my docs want me to take and I won't because of the side effects. Those are worse than what ails me. To avoid migraines though would be worth about anything. I am so thankful that is something I have not suffered with except a couple times in my life. Thanks for sharing your info. Perhaps enough will read it that some better solution can be found for you.

Valerie said...

Okay, this is me, Valerie... Seriously, Pat, I feel for you. Having such awful headaches must be crucifying. I think you've done the blogging world a favour by posting about your experience.

Of all the over-the-counter painkillers I always choose ibuprofen. Doc said they affected the heart, there was no mention of it affecting the kidneys. I've just acquired a kidney issue, noticed by a deterioration in a blood sample... the non-emergency variety that warrants a hospital visit. And because I feel so WELL I can't believe it!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You poor woman! That's got to be SO FRUSTRATING to deal with.

Carletta said...

I so can relate to migraines. Luckily for me mine don't come often anymore and when they do I take a pill and I'm good to go.
I agree, don't mess with what works.

Anonymous said...

I have had migraines for decades. They definitely have gotten better, or so I thought, but any time the barometer shifts, my head does too!. I take Imitrex when I feel one coming on and it takes it right away. I could not live w/o the Imitrex but I'm only allowed 9 a month. The drug constricts the blood vessels. Fortunately, I don't need 9 each month unless we have back to back storms blowing through here.

Anonymous said...

I totally sympathize. I suffer migraines. It is pure h*ll. (I am also 'afraid' of storms.)