Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Migraines-They're Not Just For Middle Aged Hormonal Women Anymore

I've posted on here before about Georgia's ongoing problem with migraines.  Well, in the past year, they have changed a bit and I became concerned that it was something more.  Because you know, well maybe you don't, but I tend to be a tiny bit of a hypochondriac.  I am WAY better than I used to be, but I am one of those people who always goes to worse case scenario.  Pain in my head=tumor.  Pain in my chest=heart attack.  Never mind that I work out six days a week, eat fairly well, and have low cholesterol.  It's a heart attack.  Pain in my upper back=breast cancer. I was a lot worse in my late 20s.  I've gotten over it for the most part, but I still tend to think doom and gloom when something seems off.  So, when Georgia's migraines started to change, I worried a bit that perhaps they weren't migraines at all, but something far worse.  Before I knew it, in my head, I had us checking into L.A.'s Children's Hospital.  Since I didn't want to go to far down crazy road, I decided to be rational and go back to the neurologist who diagnosed her a year and a half ago.

As I said, the reason I was worried was because the symptoms themselves changed. When she first got them, out of nowhere, she would say she didn't feel good, moved to- she was going to "frow up", followed by- actual "frowing up" for about 5 hours, and ending with- her passing out for the night.  This used to happen about once every 5-6 months.  Over the summer it started to change.  Now she will wake up any given morning and complain of being dizzy.  If she has gotten out of bed, she will lay down halfway down the hall to our room and whine that she is too dizzy to walk.  I will pick her up and she immediately puts her head down on my shoulder, with her eyes closed, clinging to me for dear life, until I lay her down in bed or on the couch.  Within a few minutes the threat of "frowing up" starts.   Sometimes it takes a couple false alarms, but eventually she starts the cycle of ridding anything that may be left in her stomach from the night before.  She is pale, clammy and can't move or really keep her eyes open.  Now, instead of lasting all day, this will end sometime in the early afternoon.  Better, right?  Yeah, except that it happens all over again the next two mornings, although each subsequent day it ends sooner than it did the day before.  Also, instead of getting them every 5-6 months, she now gets them every 6-8 weeks.  Oh yeah, fun times I tell ya!  It takes us out of whatever we were supposed to do for now almost 3 days.  When she gets these I can't go anywhere, besides to pick up or drop off the other girls, and I NEED to make my Target runs every week.   So you can see why this much of a change had me a bit worried.

I do feel so bad for her every time she gets hit with one too.  She is miserable and feels terrible.  So let me take a minute to have a tiny tangent and address two types of people out there.  The true migraine sufferers and the ones who claim to have a migraine.  Those of you who say you have a migraine and are still walking around talking, eating, going about your day, let me re diagnose you.  You have a HEADACHE.  If you had a true migraine, you wouldn't be doing ANY of those things.  Take a couple of Motrin and shut up about it.   I never quite got it before, because I myself have never experienced a migraine.  In fact, I rarely get headaches at all, except when I'm sick.  However, seeing my child go through it so often, I get it now.  So for those of you who truly get migraines and can't leave the house for a day, I am so sorry and I apologize for any doubt you get from those around you, or perhaps even from me in the past.  I can see how horrible an experience it is.  Okay-end of tangent.

So anyway, I had briefly talked to my sister Megan, the nurse, about what was going on and she encouraged me to go get her checked out again.  She mentioned that there was a chance she might need an MRI, but she didn't know for sure, because this was not her area of expertise.  That idea freaked me and Andy out, but we wanted to do what needed to be done.

So last week, off we went to Pasadena to visit Dr. Michelle.  I love this woman.  She is no nonsense, yet sensitive enough to understand a parents worry.  Perhaps it's because she's a parent herself.  I told her everything that was happening and how much had changed.  She asked me a few questions, like if she was sweaty, or complained of head pain.  Yes sweaty, no head pain, just the dizzies.  Then she let me know that they don't usually complain of head pain until seven or eight.  Oh yay!  Something to look forward to in 4 years!  She did a brief exam on Georgia, checked out her eyes, ears, reflexes, made her hop on one foot, that kind of thing.  When all was said and done the diagnosis was... still migraines.  This is apparently how they change as the sufferer gets older.

"Sooo, the way it's changed into how it is now, all that is normal?" I asked.

"Oh yeah.  She is a textbook case of toddler migraines," she assured me.  "I'm not surprised you came back."

"And the fact that she gets them a few days in a row?" I asked.

"Clusters," she said matter of fact.  This I understood, because my mom suffered from cluster headaches in her 30s.

Then she told me the plan was to put her on a prescription antihistamine for two months.  Antihistamine!  Who knew?!  It has something in it that helps block the migraines from starting at all.  The only side effect was  that it might make her a little sleepy, so I am to give it to her before bedtime.  Side effect?  Making her fall asleep quicker when I put her to bed so she doesn't get up ten times?  That's not a side effect, that a plus in my book.  So, we go back in two months to meet with her and assess the situation.  If it works, then she takes her off of it and she can go up to a year without having a migraine.  I'm not really sure how taking medication for only two months keeps her from getting a migraine for a year, but if it works, I'll take it!

Before she left the room, I just had to make sure,

"So she still doesn't need an MRI to check anything out?"

"Oh no!" She told me again, "This is a textbook case of how the migraines develop.  No need to put her through an MRI."

That made me breathe a sigh of relief in more than one way.  First of all, no MRI.  I mean who wants their tiny three year old in one of those gigantic loud machines?  Secondly, I LOVE the fact that she used the word "textbook" case.  There was no question of what it could be, or that this sounds weird, or that doesn't look right, just that she fits right into the migraine category.  The way it looks, she probably always will.  Don't get me wrong, it's not awesome that she gets these, but at least a migraine is a thousand times better than where my worst case scenario head goes.


Anonymous said...

Poor little G-Money. :(


Hollyhome said...

I don't know much about much...but this same thing has cycled through me twice in life...cause of migraines...I needed glasses! I went through years of cat scans-doctor visits-so much stuff! And due to a hormone influx it messed with my eye sight causing the Migraines that made me 'frow up'!
Prob not work for Georgia--but I hope she feels well soon :)

Rachel Rivero de GitanaMusic said...

HI, thanks for sharing all this.

I just want to say that indeed a true migraine does prevent you from living and fully engaging in life. However, when one has dealt with them their whole life and is a mother of six children and has part time jobs and a wonderful husband, one does find a way to walk around the house and do what needs to be done and rarely call in sick. For a child, no! For an adult is what I mean; we gotta do what needs to be done sometimes.
I also take the antihistamines but it only takes the edge off the pain but that allows me to not throw up and to keep going, albeit at a much lower rate.
Indeed many people scoff ever so quietly that I can't do what I can't because of a migraine. But I have found folks like you, there are more reasonable because they have had them or know of people who do. It is hard. But as an adult life doesn't stop. That being said, I am on the end of a three day cluster. I want to throw up and am sick of pills and the couch. But my trigger is foods with additives etc. You'd think by now I'd know all of them! Alas! Anyway, God be with your little one and you! My eldest boy, 18, suffers from them too. Less common for a male, but sometimes he has to suck it up too. Thanks for the write up. It helped me know that my "self prescription" of antihistamines was on the right track. Take care of yourself and your babies.
www rachelrivero com