The One-Month Headache

After living with a headache for a week, we scheduled a doctor's appointment that just left me frustrated and with no relief. So, we decided to schedule an appointment with a neurologist that specializes in headaches. We had a month-long wait where I kept hoping I'd just be able to cancel, but the headache persisted, so Monday I went in for a visit.

After waiting an hour in the waiting room, the receptionist told us the the doctor was working with an especially challenging patient and he was very thorough, so we were welcome to wait or we could reschedule. The next opening wasn't until May 15, so we chose to wait and I'm glad we did because it was only another 10 minutes or so before he was available.

We both felt much better about Dr. McFarland. He was knowledgeable and confident, and he knew right off the bat that I wouldn't be able to take the most common migraine medications because of my heart condition. The 'triptan' class of medications is contraindicated in any patient with cardiac accessory conduction pathway disorders.

One of the worst pieces of news he had for me was he advised me to stop consuming all caffeine. Really, I only have like a cup or two of coffee a day, but darnit, I look forward to it. :P And cutting back won't cut it. He likened it to someone who is on fire because they keep throwing buckets of gasoline on themselves. If they cut back to just cups or even teaspoons, they're still fueling a fire. I even mentioned that I've read that caffeine is actually good for headaches, but he explained that in a persistent migraine sufferer like me, my tolerance for caffeine is 0. It is likely to just leave me with a rebound headache.

He did a basic neurological exam, including a heel-toe walk, tiptoe evaluation, eye exam, and reflex testing. So, my brain still works fine except for the persistent ache in my skull that refuses to stay away.

He prescribed Gabapentin as a preventative medicine. Preventative was not the way I wanted to go. He said eventually he would prescribe Midrin as an abortive option, but with how frequently I get headaches, preventative was the best bet. I still don't like the idea of taking medicine everyday, but if it dramatically reduces my headache frequency, let's go for it. He said it could take a couple weeks to really have a noticeable effect, so I've still had a couple of days of headaches that were bad enough I ended up taking pain relievers. He recommended that I minimize all pain relievers as much as possible because of their likelihood to lead to rebound headaches.

To end with better news, we had our first deer sighting in the backyard this week! Spring is definitely here!


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