Doctors and Medications and Meth: Oh My!

So, last week I wrote about my never-ending headache, and the huge pain. Then I went to visit the migraine clinic at Providence St Vincent’s Hospital. Jolene went with me, and we met with the PA, a young, well-dressed woman named Virginia Whitney. She asked lots of questions about family history, triggers, medical history, etc., and then did a short neurological exam. I’ve been doing those exams at least twice a year since I was 15, and joke that if I ever needed to pass a drunk driving test, I’d have the routine down pat. The exam is pretty much the same: follow my finger with your eyes, touch your finger to my finger then to your nose, now the other finger, walk heel to toe, stand on your tip-toes, stand with arms outstretched, grip one of the doctor’s fingers as hard as you can with each hand. All these test balance, motor function, hand-eye coordination, and I’m sure a host of other things I’ve never asked about. Next time, I’ll ask.

The only part I never do well on is the balance beam section: I have trouble walking heel to toe, and always have. This time I also discovered that I can stand on my tip toes on both feet together, but cannot walk on them; my right foot just crumples, and I walk like Catherine O’Hara in this scene in “Best In Show.”

Yeah. Fun. Love that movie, but not the walk.

Anyway. I came away from the appointment with a plan of action, and a bunch of new meds. Keep a headache journal, take no imitrex (my go-to pain med, and the only one I actually have) for 10 days, start on a round of anti-inflammatory steroids, start a new med that was supposed to stop the headache, and no more caffeine. Yeah. No coffee, tea, Pepsi, or even chocolate. Yikes!

Well, I haven’t completely stuck to these rules. First off, on Sunday, my head hurt so bad that I took an imitrex. But I have been abiding my the no caffeine rule, and I’m kinda proud of myself. Hasn’t been as difficult as I thought. The steroids really killed the pain in my neck, which has made life a lot easier; being able to turn my head is a blessing! However, the med they gave me to take daily for the headache, a medication usually given for blood pressure called Verapamil, has been a pain. I took my first dose Saturday night (the instructions were twice a day), and within an hour, I was itchy. I didn’t immediately connect the itchiness and the Verapamil; in fact, it took me until Tuesday to do so. In those few days it got worse; after each dose, I’d begin itching like crazy, first in a small spot on my arms or neck, then on my belly, and at last my entire torso and legs. Once I realized what it was, I called the doc, and stopped taking it. No dose last night, or this morning, and no itching. I had to laugh when the nurse told me three times that if I had any swelling of the mouth, tongue or neck, trouble breathing, or shortness of breath, to go to the ER or call 911. Good advice, but did I need it 3 times? They are supposed to give me a new medication this week and with any luck it will work and not make me crazy!

Speaking of crazy, who’s been watching Breaking Bad? Oh. My. Gawd. Seriously, this is one of those shows I both love and hate. There are times when the arc of Walter White‘s character seems almost Shakespearean in it’s depth. I began watching mostly for  the glimpses of Albuquerque, but continued for the awesome story, and I am sad to see it end. All bad things must end. breaking-bad-final-season-poster