Known Johnson

July 17, 2006

The migraine report

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:28 pm

Tuesday is my first follow-up with my neurologist, two months after my first visit and after two months of daily migraine-fightin’ (the drug I take for my migraines which begins in “Top” and ends in “amax,” written this way because of damn bots spamming my comments) doses. You may have noticed a lack of migraine posts here lately and that’s a good thing: things have calmed down considerably. They’re not gone completely, but they’re pretty manageable and I’ve gone from feeling like I have a headache every single day to having a mild migraine every couple of weeks – and it sometimes only happens in response to me experimenting with foods to see if anything causes problems.

So far it seems like cheddar cheese and, sadly (really sadly) chocolate may be permanently off my menu – the few times either have entered my body, my brain has sought revenge on me overnight and even throughout the next day. Why the migraines wait until 1 or 2 am to strike, I don’t know, but I can now trace damn near every horrible night’s sleep back to eating something I now know I really shouldn’t have eaten. Avoiding these things seems to help me immensely.

Another very strange thing that I noticed is that if I have an intense craving for anything, watch out. Cravings are part of the “prodrome” phase of migraines, which can happen from mere hours to many days before the aura, if you happen to get them (and I sometimes do.) I’d never paid attention to this trait, but in doing some research last week stumbled upon some reading about the prodrome phase that really clicked with an incident a couple weeks back where I absolutely had to have potato chips – not wanted, not desired, NEEDED. I got the chips, ate them at an incredible rate, and then a few days later found myself suffering a migraine. I would never have made the connection, but it’s interesting to note that since then, and before then, I had absolutely no desire for potato chips whatsoever – nor any other food item. Pretty weird stuff.

As for side-effects, they really aren’t so bad: I don’t find myself as forgetful as many say the drug’s users are – but I do have to pay very close attention to things and make notes for myself. It’s in situations where I have to think quickly where I find myself at a loss. Sometimes words simply won’t form, or I forget a well-known fact like my PIN number, but I just have to calm myself a moment and it comes to me. Maybe it gets worse with higher doses, I don’t know.

As for the bad taste of soda, I’ve found that regular Diet Coke just hasn’t come back to tasting even close to normal. I hardly drink it at all now where I was a fiend before. I have found that, if it’s available, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke tastes much better, but it’s Diet Pepsi that is most preferrable. All soda still tastes flat, unfortunately, but at least Diet Pepsi doesn’t taste like chemicals like Diet Coke does (and Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi is even better – but much harder to find in fountains.)

One plus tied in with this taste thing that happens to work out okay for me is that chocolate, my nemesis as I explained above, just doesn’t taste as heavenly as it used to, so I don’t have a whole lot of incentive to eat it.

One thing the doctor’s got to take care of: sleeping. Apparently it’s pretty normal, but I have a lot of nights where I just don’t sleep very well. When I’m really exhausted, I’m fine, but if I’m not, I wake up, and then it seems like my brain was right in the middle of a dream, and I spend the next unknown amount of time watching colors swirl in my vision as thought spin wildly out of control in my head. I’ve trained myself to stop this by chanting in my head the word “sleep” over and over while trying to envision blackness, but sometimes I just can’t seem to fight it – and then I spend who knows how long staring at a vortex of muted colors. It can make for some awful nights.

I drink water like crazy – all to ward off kidney stones because the drug dehydrates you. Water gets old real quick, let me tell you. And I love water, but I love taste. I have found that Propel’s flavored water is really good – the Mandarin Orange in particular – and it’s a good thing to have because it’s got all those “vital electrolytes” that this drug’s users are urged to get back in their systems (which are flushed out from drinking so much water.) I miss soda, however.

The best side-effect of all, however, is on my appetite. I’d read about its appetite-suppression abilities, and from what I understand it’s just that the drug happens to work in all areas of the brain that control “want” – so it’s used for drug addicts, alcoholics, and other people with behavioral problems in addition to migraine and epilepsy sufferers. I can confirm that appetite suppression aspect – in two months on the drug, without lifting so much as a finger in the way of exercise, I’ve dropped nearly 15 pounds just because I don’t eat as much nor do I want to eat as much. It won’t last forever, however, and I fear that I may have hit the peak of my loss because I haven’t really budged much in a couple weeks – but I also won’t gain it back unless I really work at it. Luckily, I simply don’t want all the stuff that would put it back on, and hopefully when the doctor ups my dosage (as he suggested would likely happen when I first saw him) I may start losing again. Regardless, of course, the main thing is that the seemingly neverending world of headaches I lived in seems to be drifting away bit by bit – but it sure won’t hurt to drop some of this excess weight while I’m at it!

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