Headaches and Headache Balm

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Most of you know I’m pretty science based. Hell, when you have a chronic illness, you kind of have to be with all of the treatments you have to endure. I’m the first one to throat punch a person who tells me to stop my meds and eat some raw foods to cure my Crohns, or take a walk instead of take my antidepressants. I don’t particularly believe in god, though I tend to swing more towards agnostic rather than militant atheist these days. (Fuck organized religion though!)

However, over the last year or so, I’ve surprised myself by being a bit.. holistic? I’m not even sure that’s the right word I’m looking for. I started using essential oils to treat my anxiety and headaches among other things.

It all started back when my heart started acting up. (Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia, although as time goes by, it seems closer to POTS, but I don’t have the funds to see a different EP for a second opinion.) I had always been a very anxiety-ridden person, and having a racing heart that occasionally needed to be medically stopped, shot my anxiety through the roof. So a friend of mine gave me some essential oils to try for my new-much-more-hard-core panic attacks. They seemed to work.

So I started investigating different kinds of oils and what people use them for. Now, I’m not one to say “Oh, try ingesting 3 drops of this oil, twice a day and you’ll be cured of this ailment!!”, because that’s crap, and we all know it, but I do think that certain scents are calming, and certain herbs have been proven to work as anti-inflammatory (and disproved – I’m looking at you Turmeric.) Over the past year, I started diffusing certain scents that help me calm myself down when I’m overly stressed or anxious, or help me (or my daughter) sleep when a bout of insomnia strikes.

I’ve also started using Headache Balm (which is essentially peppermint and beeswax) which delivers a cooling sensation when applied to the neck and temples. Combine that with breathing and some Excedrin, I can battle my way through a tension headache or migraine without having to use my injections or head into the ER for IV medication.

Last night/today was a prime example. I went out to have drinks with a friend of mine, but a couple hours after leaving the house, I got that twinge in my head that signaled a migraine coming on. I borrowed some of her headache balm and called my boyfriend for a ride. I came home and was able to get some sleep with more balm and a lot of Tylenol.

Woke up this morning, and it was still there. It was miserable. Jon massaged my head with balm and I took a Zofran to battle the nausea that came with it. I also used some oils to keep my anxiety down (which I always get once I get nauseated or am faced with using my very expensive medicine that I can’t afford). By mid-day, it was finally subsiding, with no real damage beyond time lost, so I came home to nap.

Now, I’m enjoying my Saturday night, curled up in my bed (with a a bit of a Crohns flare, been bothering me for a few weeks) and my diffuser going to help me stay relaxed.

The way I figure it, is if the balm and oils has a placebo effect, than great! I’m all for placebo effects! If they don’t work! Then my house smells great and I’m moisturized! I’m not delusional enough to think that some ginger oil is going to cure my crohns, but I do think that some lavender oil helps me sleep, and some lime and geranium picks me up. No matter what, patchouli has always helped me stay grounded. So why not give it a try?

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Simple Exhaustion

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I am exhausted. Simply exhausted. So that infection in my head, apparently isn’t an infection. The kicker? No one really seems to know what it is. Basically I’ve had a headache since early December, varying from moderate to severe, but it’s always there. I had finally caved and stopped at an immediate care, which is where I was told it was an infection. They gave me steroids to reduce the inflammation and some medicine to help with the side effects of “vertigo”.

Well, last Thursday (today is Monday), I went back to the immediate care because for the few days prior, my headache was staying purely in the severe pain range. The doctor I saw there, referred me to the ER for a ct scan because she didn’t think it was an infection. So I gladly went to the ER, because by that point I was in enough pain to be consistently crying. Once I got to the ER, they didn’t want to do any more imaging since I had seen a neurologist back in 2015 for a couple of migraines (which cleared up – and completely different kind of headache) and my scans were clear. They treated me for a migraine and for pain and sent me on my way with a script for Imitrex (injectable).

My pharmacy didn’t carry the imitrex so I relied on my existing script for tramadol to try and manage the pain until I could get it. I essentially spent Thursday night to Sunday afternoon crying in my bed. Finally Sunday I cracked and headed back to the ER where they treated my pain again, and gave me a small pain med script for Norcos. They still didn’t want to do any imaging, and referred me back to my neurologist.

So, I went home crying, doped up on pain medicine that only took my pain down to a 5 out of 10. I came to work this morning, one, because I need the money, and two because of the headache and general “not right” feeling, I don’t want to be alone. I called my neurologist (as well as two others) and the earliest appointment I can get is Feb. 20th. To say that I’m stressed out and in pain, is putting it really mildly.

I am grateful though. Jon has basically been taking care of me and the house for the past few days, as well as sitting with me in the hospital trying to comfort me. Not only that, but a lot of my friends have been rallying around me, helping with anything from meds to childcare expenses and childcare itself. I don’t know what I would do without everyone, because frankly this is a bit much for me to take. I can deal with my tachycardia and my Crohns, but this pain is unbelievable, and to be honest, I’m scared.

The headaches I got before were two migraines with some low level headaches in between. They eventually just went away. Beyond the two migraines, I could function as long as I had some excedrin. Beyond that experience, I’ve never really had headaches. So this is completely new to me, and after a month of them going on, a week of them being severe, I’m worn down and really starting to doubt myself as well as my doctors.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. What if the headaches don’t subside before my appointment on Feb 20th? My painkiller script is only for 15 pills, I’ve taken 3 today to just get through and that’s barely keeping my pain at a tolerable level. I’ve already racked up $1,300 in copays for the Immediate Care and ER since Thursday, that’s not really a viable option, and neither is using up my remaining 4 days of sick time for the year.. or missing work beyond that. So I just don’t know.

I guess just cross your fingers for me. I am at a loss.

 

Random Ramblings Again

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It’s been so busy here, it’s unbelievable.  Here it is, already the middle of June and I am still feeling like it’s the beginning of spring.  Of course before I even register that it’s pretty much summer, school will be starting and summer will be over.

I went back to work about 3 weeks after getting out of the hospital.  Those 3 weeks at home weren’t exactly bliss.  What I was hoping for was 3 comfortable weeks to get back on my feet and spend some time with my kiddo.  What was it really?  It was filled with both my daughter and I getting a cold (which we both still have coughs from) and what I shall term the never ending headache.  (I’ll get to the headache later)

Honestly?  Those weeks I learned how inpatient I really am.  I do not like the whole “time to heal” bullshit, it’s basically admitting that I need help and downtime.  While being at home itself didn’t bother me, I didn’t like that my body couldn’t keep up with what I wanted to do around my house.  It was damn hard to sit there and know that chores needed to be done, but I could only do one thing before I wore myself out.

It was nice on one front though, I was able to take my time getting the short one ready for school in the mornings.  Eating breakfast was leisurely and filled with chatter.  I was able to get her home right after school, so afternoons were spent outside or hanging out together indoors.  I’ve only been back at work for just under a month, and I already desperately miss that extra time.

Noodle is perfectly content with going back to full-time daycare now.  Her daycare morphs into a summer camp every year (and is still cheaper than most daycares around here).  They go to the beach and water park on alternating weeks, and take field trips to go mini-golfing and to different parks around the area.  She’s already been to the beach once, to a joint with bowling and one of the many bouncy-house-filled-trampoline-places that have become ever so popular.  Summer camp is always so fun for her, while I feel guilty for missing out on time with her because I’m at work, she’s off having a blast!

Like I said though, I’m back to work.  It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would.  It’s still taking some time for my brain to catch up on my tasks (which involve dimensions and math at the moment), but I’m getting there.  I never really got off of my sleep schedule, so that wasn’t/isn’t a huge issue.  The toughest part has been dealing with my apparently numerous health issues while trying to act like nothing is wrong at work.

I had an issue for a couple of weeks with one of my incisions, it kept opening up and was infected for a short bit.  Trying to take care of that, while wearing pants (it was right where the waist band sits) and talking to coworkers and customers wasn’t exactly my idea of fun.  That and the headache… or headaches… or whatever (again, I’ll get to that), it’s damn near impossible some days.

I feel bad because I know I’ve been snippy towards my coworkers, and I’ve made it a point to apologize and try to keep them in the loop with everything.  It’s still not their fault, but sometimes the pain and fatigue is a little much, and they’re in the wrong place.  They are basically like an extended part of my family at this point, so hopefully they take my apologies to heart and understand how rough it’s been.

So.. the headaches.  In a previous post I mentioned the first headache I got in the hospital.  The one that couldn’t be eased even with morphine, dilaudid, and ativan.  The one that made me think I was going to die?  Well.. apparently that’s part of my life for now.

Shortly after I got out of the hospital, I coughed (remember I got sick?) and BAM! my head exploded.  I dropped to my knees just holding my head.  4 hours later and I could function a bit like a human being.. but it left me with a low-to-mid grade headache that never went away.  So following the floor doctor’s instructions, I made an appointment with a Neurologist.  So for the better part of a month, if not more, I’ve had a headache every day.  Some days are worse, some days are tolerable.  Some days I am relatively normal?  Some days I just cry.

I went in to see my new doctor on Monday.  Very, very nice lady, who asked me a bajillion and one questions and preformed a neurological exam.  She’s not entirely convinced that the headaches are migraines for a few reasons, the biggest being that when I have a headache, light and sound don’t hurt me.  Just motion.  She’s trying to figure out what kind of headaches they could be.

However, since the first one I ever had was in the hospital after major surgery, she wants to rule out a blood clot or something along those lines.  I had a MRI while I was in the hospital, which was clear for massive clots and tumors, but she wants me to have an MRV and MRA, which are similar but look at the arteries and veins in your brain.  That appointment is on Monday.  In the meantime, I’m on a headache preventative and I have some pain pills as back up.  I know I have to give the medicine time, but seeing as how I had vision changes which bloomed into a huge headache (luckily it popped in my mind that the vision changes I was having might be what’s called an aura… and took a pain pill before the headache hit… so I took the edge off) yesterday, that hasn’t left yet (although it’s a bit better this afternoon), I’m nervous.

To be completely honest, I am just scared that I’m going to end up with another chronic condition.  What if I end up having these headaches long term on top of my Crohn’s Disease?  I know that I’ll buckle down and make it through, just like I always have, but it’s terrifying to me to have to face something else.  I went into surgery with high hopes of an improved quality of life, come out and end up with headaches… and now what seems like Crohns symptoms.

Yeah, I have symptoms that remind me a bit of when I first got sick.  Odd stomach pains, running to the bathroom, etc.  I hoping it’s really just an oddity, a side effect of surgery.. maybe it’ll go away soon?  I’m giving it a little time to see, but then I’ll be calling my GI.  I really, truly hope that this isn’t the disease coming back already.

The whole headache/Crohns debacle just really gets to me.  Like I said, I let my hopes get really high for this surgery.  I’ve been sick (with good days at some points) for 8 years now, I allowed myself to hope that I’d get a break after surgery.  Coming out of the whole ordeal with a whole new health problem is… well.. it’s hard.

Honestly this is where I’m thankful for the people around me.  For Ry, who’s literally been by my side through all of this, from all the hospital visits to surgery, and now with head/neck massages when I want to crack my own skull in two.  I’m thankful for my daughter, who understands that sometimes mommy has to take it slow, and through living with me, has learned a compassion that most kids her age don’t get.  Sometimes her hugs and kisses (and HUGE art projects… excuse me, weather machine.. ahem) are just what I need to keep trucking.  Hell, I’m thankful for my coworkers who visited me at the hospital, and have been making sure I take care of myself at work.  All the way to my neighbors who have helped out all they can.

I did manage to feel pretty good for Noodle’s birthday WEEK though, so that’s a major bonus!  Yes, I said week.  The kid lucked out this year due to everyone’s schedules kind of colliding.  She got one Saturday at Grandma and Grandpas, her birthday at home, and a party with the neighbors the next Saturday.  I think my kid is actually sick of cake at this point.  She got a lot of great gifts too, I’m super glad she had fun, because she deserves it!

Which reminds me!  I got her last report card, and my kid got good marks in everything (except for handwriting… it’s messy).  She tested well in math and is super ahead in reading (that’s my gal!!).  I am definitely proud of my little monkey and how far she came these past two years.  We went from her not wanting to read, claiming she couldn’t, and flat out refusing to read out loud, to reading everything I give her, quickly too.  Definitely a proud mama here.

I think that’s enough for tonight though, I had a bunch of thoughts bouncing around in my head.. as you can see my writing is just all over the place.  However, if you  haven’t noticed, I’m not much one for proofreading, and sometimes I just have to get it out.

I’m off to bed.  Goodnight!