Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Got a Shot in My Head!

It hurt.

It was another new doc, and this one was a occupational therapist. He gave me an occipital nerve block. I had NO IDEA what that was going to be like. I've decided to write it out, for my own self-indulgent reasons AND for the noble cause of preparing my readers for their own head shots. Because when fifteen thousand unexpected things happen in the space of twelve seconds, you don't want to cry, then giggle wildly and scare the doctor.

Let's start with the actual appointment: By the time we got there, I was already nauseous and hurty. Besides the obligatory overhead fluorescent lighting, they had a radio on. And then there were some insurance shenanigans. So, I sat outside, against the cool stucco wall, and filled out paperwork. Then the tile floor started making me nauseous. Seriously, can I get a break from the triggers already?

It took a half an hour to get into the exam room and another ten to fifteen for the doctor to make his way in. We turned off the lights in the room and closed the blinds on the window, so when he finally walked in, he stopped for a moment, startled by the dark. I grinned at him and said, "Welcome to my world." He grinned back and started singing a song I've never heard that contains that phrase. I was instantly at ease. Even if we got nowhere with the appointment, at least he wasn't going to be a big jerk. Big jerks don't burst into song before introducing themselves. Weirdos do, and I like weirdos, generally.

We established my problems quickly, and he checked my reflexes. After a lot of discussion about my symptoms, he suggested another MRI, one including my neck, and a nerve test. He recommended I see someone with whom I already have an appointment next month. That was cool. Then HE SHOT ME IN MY HEAD!

So, this is how it went down: He asked where I thought I might benefit from being shot. I suggested my temples and he demurred, he'd never stabbed anyone there before. Not wanting to be his first, I suggested the back of my head. He agreed, an occipital nerve block might just help me out. He told me to pick a side, I went with right. I laid on my stomach, with a pillow under my chest and my head dropped forward. He froze my right occipital... area?... by spraying it with some freezy stuff. Unfortunately, the freezy stuff dripped past my ear, down my cheek, and off the end of my nose. It was all alcohol fumes, so I was holding my breath desperately, hoping it would dry before he started the injection. I didn't want to cough with a needle in my head. Then he poked me. I kind of felt it at first, but my skin was good and numb. I was still holding my breath. The smell wasn't gone, but my lungs were concerned about the lack of air, so I started taking short shallow breaths. The nausea from the smell set in almost immediately and a second later, the freezy stuff started to wear off. I could feel it, and it felt really odd. It slowly started to hurt more and more, and I made a weird noise. It was a kind of whiny moan. Then he pulled it out and I had the craziest head rush I've had since I was 22, at a party and not having an occipital nerve block. I started crying without noticing and slurred, "I feel weird." The doctor asked me to clarify and I started giggling, "I've got the wah-wah's." (Which means, for those not in on the lingo, that I was feeling EXTREMELY intoxicated, and my head was buzzing in rhythm with my pulse, which can result in hearing a sound not unlike Charlie Brown's teacher in slo-mo, WAH..WAH..WAH), I kept giggling until I started to creep myself out and then abruptly stopped. I was still facedown. The doctor said, "Ok, well.... hang around for fifteen minutes if you want, take it slow, let us know if you need anything." Then he was OUT of there. I don't know, maybe his lunch was waiting for him, but I imagine that my reaction freaked him out and he went somewhere to drink.

The head rush faded slowly, and I felt sober after a few minutes. I could sit up after five, and stand after ten. I practiced walking before I left the room. The right side of my head felt numb, and for the first time, my headache was solidly only on one side of my head. I walked slowly and carefully out to the car, and by the time I got there, the numbness had worn off and my head went back to an even distribution of pain, no better or worse, though.

By the time we got home, another twenty minutes, I just wanted some ice and my couch. A few hours later, the injection site was sore and my neck was stiff. I kept stretching it gently, and icing. It gradually got worse, and I wished I had asked for narcotics. I medicated as well as I could with that I had; one super ibuprofen, half a vicodin and a couple valium. I went to bed with an icepack and fell asleep quickly.

I woke up the next morning and the worst of the swelling had gone down but it was still sore, and a little stiff. I had a family gathering to attend, and I was feeling optimistic. My head hurt slightly less than usual upon waking, and didn't protest nearly as loudly as usual as I went through my morning routine. I showered, dressed and loaded the dishwasher. My head was all, "Excuse me, darling, you may want to sit for a minute, as this level of activity is a little aggravating." instead of the usual, "OMFG WTF NOOOOOOO LAY DOWN NOW OWOWOW!" This was encouraging.

At the party, I was careful, at first. I had one earplug in at all times, my water bottle filled, I was sitting in the shade and I was feeling pretty good. I was talking and laughing, acting closer to normal than I have in months. Maybe a little too normal. I only made it two hours before I suddenly realized I may have overestimated my capabilities for the day. A migraine was coming.

I was starting to feel irritable and confused. My eyes were aching. I couldn't sit comfortably. It was time to go. I said my goodbyes, and hugged everyone, got in the car and waited. It took us about fifteen minutes to get home. By the time we did, I was having trouble climbing the stairs. It's all a little blurry from there.

It was about 30 hours before it finally broke, and there are no numbers to describe how bad it got.

I don't blame this migraine on the nerve block, since I get them at least once a week no matter what I do. However, I am positive that the severity of this last migraine is directly related to the temporary lessening of pain, which led to me triggering myself being all laughy and chatty. Not the block's fault, just my own for enjoying the reprieve a little too much.

I'm not going to be rushing to get another occipital block, at this point. Any relief it gave me was too minor to be any real relevance. I hear that there are docs who will shoot you in the temple, though, which might give me more dramatic results, for better or worse.

Also, there's the botox. But that's another post.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

30 hours??@@##!! When they hang on that long your brain feels bruised. No wonder its a bad week.

When I got an occipital block no numbing goodness for the headache happened, only numb skin and muscles up to my ear on my left side and it only lasted 4 hours. Yet the occipital stimulator seems to be working. Weird, eh?

Good luck on your next venture in the search for cureland.

Betsy said...

Wow - they gave you freezing? That's nice! When I was in the middle of my year of status migraine, I got multiple temporal nerve and occipital nerve blocks sans any numbing for about 3 months (pretty much weekly). Hurts like hell and I used to get nausous. I also swore a lot ;-) during the injections - luckly, my pain specialist understood. He'd have me touch my scalp to find the spots that were really tender to the touch and then inject there. Sometimes 4-5 shots at a session. Personally, I didn't find it to help at all. For me, what stopped the torture was accupuncture. But we're all so different! That makes it just so frustrating....I wish you all the luck in the world finding the thing stops the torture for you...