Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Understated Threat of Rebounds

I had a nasty scare yesterday afternoon; I thought I was getting a rebound headache from my painkiller, Tramadol. I ended up calling my neurologist, and asking him what to do. He called me back and asked what had happened.

I'd been doing poorly all day, but around noon, the pain really started to increasing. At 1:30ish, I took some Frova and a 50mg of Tramadol. Half an hour later, the pain was still getting worse, so I took the other 50mg of Tramadol that I'm allowed to take. Well, that seemed to take the intensity away for about 45 minutes, and then I got a huge spike in pain. The first thing that came into my pain wracked brain was "rebound".

I'm very familiar with rebound headaches, as I get them from ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). That's because, when my status migrainous was first setting in, I didn't know to ration how much pain medication I took a week, and ended up triggering rebound headaches on top of my migraine. So, since I was in more pain, I took more pain meds, which made the pain worse, lather, rinse, repeat. I thought that, since the pills were OTC, it was ok. And I never took more than the maximum dose in 24 hours. I was very careful about that part. I just didn't know that I could only take them (safely) a couple of times a week. Finally, my neurologist found out how much I was taking, and basically banned me from taking anything. He gave me a script for Tramadol, and that's been basically my one painkiller ever since.

So, given my history, when I took a painkiller, and shortly afterwards the pain got worse, my first thought was rebounds. However, Dr. B (my neurologist) told me that basically the spike was "bad luck" and that there's a very small chance that I'd be getting rebounds from the Tramadol. He told me that that's why he gave it to me in the first place.

That was very reassuring to hear.

However, even though I wasn't getting a rebound headache from the Tramadol, I felt compelled to write this blog today. Most people, like I did, think that if the painkiller is OTC, it's basically safe to take. This is true, to a point.

But even if the painkiller (Excedrin Migraine was my painkiller of choice back then) is OTC, and you're following the dosing instructions to a T, you really shouldn't take that painkiller more than about 3 days a week without consulting your doctor.

The warning of rebound headaches isn't on bottles' warning labels, and I find that very frustrating. I was, I thought, doing exactly the right thing by not taking more mediation in a 24 hour period than what was recommended. But since I took the Excedrin Migraine almost every day, I ended up with sensitivities to Tylenol and ibuprofen that last to this day.

That's something else they don't tell you. Once you start getting rebound headaches, it's possible that your body will never be able to tolerate that medication without giving you a rebound headache.

A couple years ago, I tried taking some ibuprofen for my costochondritis, and I ended up getting a rebound headache, even though my head pain had been moderate and not what I was taking the ibuprofen for. It was very frustrating. Now I have to be very careful what painkillers I take if I go to the ER or something like that, as a lot of painkillers that the ER uses contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

So listen to my story, and take away a  bit of knowledge. TELL YOUR DOCTOR how many painkillers you're taking, and how often you take them. They really need to know. If your doctor clears you to take painkillers more than 3 times a week or so, then you can, of course, follow their direction. But if you're self medicating, please be careful!

Quantum in me fuit,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

30 Things Meme

I found this meme over here and thought it would be interesting to fill out. Feel free to skip over it if you want.

1. The illness I live with is: status migrainous
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2004
3. But I had symptoms since: birth (1987)
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: letting go of some dreams, and instead learning to go my own way.
5. Most people assume: that I'm stupid because I'm in pain
6. The hardest part about mornings are: waking up and coming back into awareness of the pain
7. My favorite medical TV show is: nothing. I find them frustrating.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my laptop. It connects me to the world where I would otherwise be alone.
9. The hardest part about nights are: the times when it hurts too much to close my eyes.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) 11 different Rxs, I can't count the number of actual capsules right now.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: practice somatic experiencing, but recently had to give up acupuncture as it was making the pain worse.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:....invisible most likely. It's nice to be able to occasionally pass for a "normal" person.
13. Regarding working and career: I can't really have one. I've been disabled since 'o5 when I had to drop out of high school.
14. People would be surprised to know: I would think twice before taking a miracle cure, as I don't know a life without pain.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: the fact that I appear weak.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: turn it into something positive by publishing my children's book.
17. The commercials about my illness: don't really exist. Commercials about migraine in general annoy me because it makes it seem like a pill can cure everything. They never mention the times when the pain becomes intractable.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: playing my violin. I had to stop symphony and private lessons because I was falling too far behind because of the pain.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: school. I was a huge nerd, and loved school so much. It broke my heart to withdraw.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: writing and helping others.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: probably freak out. I wouldn't know what to do.
22. My illness has taught me: that it's ok to ask for help.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "I know my headache isn't anywhere near as bad as yours is."
24. But I love it when people: treat me like a person, rather than a disease.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: "Quantum in me fuit" or "I did the best I could"
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: it's not the end of the world.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how much I can endure.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: left a sweet note on my front door, and attached a spoon for me.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I feel the need to bring awareness to how many people are affected.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: honored.

Quantum in me fuit


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Good That Comes

It's easy to get sucked into the negative side of a life with status migrainous, and it's important to grasp hold of every good thing you can reach to balance things out. It's particularly easy around negative or depressing milestones to get sucked in. That's why I'm so thrilled that I have a good anniversary that comes around at roughly the same time as a bad one.

As of today, it's been two years since I was released from the hosptial's psych ward. I was admitted because the migraines were so bad that I was disassocitating and turning suicidal while not in control of my body. Not the type of thing you want to happen.

However, I found the strength to ask for, (read demand) help, and I finally got it. And it really did help. It was a total paradigm shift for me, to figure out that I could ask for help when something got too big for me to handle it on my own.

Before Sept. 10, 'o8 I'd had status migrainous for just under seven years, and I had never learned how to ask for help. Instead I had shut down my body and mind so that I wouldn't have to deal with the pain. In 'o8, I broke the cycle of hiding, and learned that it actually made me stronger if I asked for help than if I had just stayed in my shell.

So while I'm about to enter into my 10th year of status migrainous, I can remember Sept. 10, 'o8 as a time when I proved I was/am stronger than the pain, and that means the world to me.

Try and find something good to focus on this week!

Quantum in me fuit