Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Symptoms and Treatments

I am back at the beginning, doctor wise. I have to start all over and I am really dreading it. I am not the ideal patient, with my chronic illness that doesn't respond to traditional treatments and my aversion to pharmaceuticals. I want to explore using alternative therapies. I am open to pills as long as there is a basis for trying it out and the possible side effects are understood by all. I have a list of treatments and therapies I want to try and it's very important to me that I have a doctor who is more knowledgeable than I am.

I am thinking of writing a proposal, summarizing my health and my needs, and faxing it to every doctor in the south bay. It could open the perfect door or it could slam them all closed. Maybe an e-mail would be better? With a link to this blog. Faxing is so 1985.

The symptoms that worry me the most are the stroke-like ones. I don't have any paralysis so I am not actually afraid that I am having a stroke, but the slow-thinking, memory loss, confusion, trouble speaking clearly and motor sloppiness make me very nervous. I feel like I am drunk, or on some heavy duty narcotics. It can precede or coincide with a migraine. When this happens, I sit or lay down. Avoid stress, noise, harsh lights. Maybe talk quietly or watch a movie. There is nothing I can do but ride it out. It always disappears after a few hours, maximum.

Less frightening, but still annoying, symptoms include head tenderness, aura, and nausea. The head tenderness is very strange. There are myofascial pressure points on the face and head and whenever I touch mine, and often when I don't, they ache. Massaging the most sensitive areas of my head can give me some temporary relief, like a back massage will for a pulled muscle. An ice pack on my head can be soothing, too.

The aura I see before and sometimes during a migraine varies. Sometimes I see floaters in my peripheral vision or blind spots. I've lost a whole section of vision during a migraine. Lights will have halos. Sometimes everything has a halo. If I close my eyes during a migraine I see shapes and colors flowing like oil and water and fireworks throwing sparks, like an acid trip. I see movement just out of my direct line of sight quite frequently, regardless of head pain.

The nausea has never actually resulted in vomiting. I just feel carsick. Since the headaches started, I have suddenly started having trouble with motion sickness in general, not just when I have or am getting a headache, which I have never had. The carsick feeling can be triggered by the television, too. I treat the nausea with ginger tea and water. Saltines if necessary.

I have a horrible urge to binge eat when my head gets bad and no matter how much I eat, I never feel full. I don't usually feel hunger at all when I have a headache, but the munchies are irresistible. I kind of zone out sometimes and end up eating on autopilot and I'll find myself eating a sandwich or cookies without paying attention to what I'm doing. I haven't noticed that eating makes the headache worse, and may actually make it somewhat better.

I have been experiencing phantom sensations of heat and moisture, and I frequently smell poo when no one else does.

The memory loss is pretty disturbing. Usually it's just a problem with recalling words or repeating myself, but I have forgotten entire conversations.

I am doing my best to improve my quality of life. It's frustrating that my best weapon is an icepack, but it's more effective than nothing. It could be worse.