Monday, May 30, 2011

a crossroads. a turn.

[Note; the following post is mostly for my far away friends who use this blog to keep up with my life. Though this issue certainly impacts my parenting, my indulgence of it here is for those who know and love me personally. The rest of you, I will not be offended if you skim.]

It's a new world! Major changes over here, and this time not due to the kids' developmental stages. Nope, this one is about my developmental changes. Hold on to your seats. IT'S POSSIBLE MY HEADACHES ARE CURED. Perhaps I should wait to write these words, wait until the verdict is clear, but already the impact on my days and on my participation in motherhood (as in much else, as you will see) is radical. Let me explain.

I'd heard about botox as a treatment for migraines, heard it as a rumor. Then I read some, and turns out that women on the front end of the botox revolution who were receiving cosmetic botox in their forehead and temples, and who also had migraines, were discovering that their migraines were going away for the duration of botox treatment. At some point the pharmaceutical companies started running clinical trials, and last October the FDA approved it as a treatment for migraines. I found out in a random article sent to me by someone as a link. Why my neurologist did not shout this from the rooftop is a bit hazy for me, but it could be simply because folks get stuck in their ways.

I called my insurance company to see if they would cover treatment and, a thirty minute wait on hold assured me, indeed they will. When I asked my neurologist about it he referred me to a new neuro who treats patients with botox. Before hanging up I asked if in his experience it worked, and he said it was hard to tell because people generally used it as a last ditch, after all other medications had failed. But why? Why would it not now be a first choice? Or at least a third? Why would my doctor be more comfortable having me ingest handfuls of pills? I'm a bit confused about it.

Because the upshot is that if this works, not only can I eat like a normal human again, but I can come off at least 3 medications I'm on daily, not to mention the migraine pills I take for the actual headaches, plus the high dose NSAIDS (frequent) and codeine (rare) and anti nausea pills (medium). Are there any downsides to the Botox? Are people afraid of it and assume there must be? Cuz I don't see any. Except maybe that it's expensive, even with the insurance covering 80%. Still, it's not THAT expensive, and it's going to same me the money I currently put into the other migraine medications.

PLUS. Let us briefly discuss the things I will be able to enjoy on this earth. We'll touch on a select few and then move on. Ahem.

Brownies. Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, Reeces cups. Dark chocolate bars, truffles, chocolate mint ice cream. Blue cheese, brie cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan, manchego, fontina, gjetost, drunken goat. Enchiladas, PIZZA!, peanut butter, trail mix, ohmygoodness.





(I don't hold out much hope yet for the coffee. It's the worst trigger of all. We'll get there and just see.)

I'm gonna gain a bunch of weight.

I had to jump through about 120 hoops to make all this happen, and maybe that's why the docs don't advertise... they don't want to deal with the hassle. But last Wednesday, a whole six days ago, I went to the neuro's office and had her stick my head - all around my forehead and temples (those really hurt!) and the back of my head. Since then I've felt better than I have since I was perhaps 5. Really. Six days might not seem like a lot to you folks, but it's unheard of for me. I recently kept a headache diary for the first time in a few years, and turns out I was having headaches 6 of 7 days. I didn't even realize how frequent. The really big ones were every 3 days or so. In addition, I now know that what I thought was "no headache" was actually about 2 notches up the pain scale. Who knew! There were times when I really did believe I had no headache, but I was wrong. It's like when white noise you didn't notice suddenly stops. Quiet. But you didn't realize it had been loud before. That's what it's like.

So no pain! On two different occasions so far I've had a handful of peanut M&Ms; two big triggers, and a certainty of a headache before. And nothing! Two of the last few days I took naps where I feel deeply asleep for an hour. Nothing! Magic! The past few days I've been happier, more patient with the kids. I also have the emotional space to be more creative with them, convince them to drink their milk at dinner by slurping my own and making it a game rather than badgering.

I could come out on the other side of this a different person. I wonder if you folks will even recognize me. Plus, I have a really smooth forehead.

For those of you with questions, you'll find the answers here: 1) The needles hurt some, but nothing a person can't handle. 2) Yes, my forehead is very smooth, but mostly in the middle. Up at the scalp line my skin still wrinkles; my neuro said they target more specifically in cosmetic botox. 3) They don't know why it works exactly, but the theory is that the botox relaxes the nerves that spaz out, which cause the migraine. 4) It doesn't work for everyone, and for some people it only gets rid of the big ones, but the little ones still slip through. (yet, maybe that's because botox is mostly being used for the most extreme cases... when I first saw this new neuro and told her what I wanted to try, before she said yes she gave me a whole speech about which medication combinations I could still try, and wrote me a prescription for several.) (And, frankly, if I had to pick, I'd rather have my big ones. Those I can at least treat with a triptan. The low grade ones I fight all the time are the ones that make me a shitty mom who yells at her kids.) 5) It lasts for 3 months. I've already made an appointment for 3 months from now.

I'm supposed to start my period in a couple of days. If I don't have a headache then, we'll know some major plate in the earth has shifted. Then I'll enjoy an amazing glass of red wine and see what happens. Oh my.

I'll keep you updated about the new me.


andrea said...

simply awesome.

Paige said...

Cali, this is such great news. I hope it works permanently! I really don't know how you've managed the past almost 5 years with 6 out of 7 days with a MIGRAINE! I tend not to get headaches except when I'm dehydrated (don't worry, I have my own private hell - it's in my stomach, not my head), but when I do get one, I am a total mess. So you are an amazing mom! And now you will be an amazing mom who can bake chocolate chip cookies with her kids and EAT THEM TOO!

M. Bloom said...

My husband suffered migraines for years. He started taking a supplement called Migrelief which contains magnesium & the herb feverfew. Have you ever heard of or tried this? Anyhow, for my husband it was a miracle. He used to have weekly migraines and now he just gets these sort of minor headaches every 8 weeks, or so...

Just thought I'd mention... anyhow, I hope the botox is helping...