Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tell Me Where it Hurts

I know "they" say things fall apart at 50, but really ?? - starting on day three?

Do you know what is more frustrating than people not listening to you as you speak?  Doctors not listening to you as you speak - with your fucking medical history.

Friday, I finally had to break down and see a doctor about my head aching (which is different than a 'headache').  Nurse on Call was adamant (not Adam Ant) that they get me an appointment 'within the next four hours' or I was to proceed to an emergency department.

Then they proceeded to schedule me for an appointment six and one-half hours later.

Since I had the frickin' headache (sorry - aching head) for seven days, I thought 2.5 hours longer past their recommendation wouldn't kill me.......probably.  Since you're reading this - SPOILER ALERT:  I didn't die.

Going the ED (it is not just a room!), I would have waited four hours just to be seen and then they still would have referred me out to Neurology.  I know how the system works.

Nurse on Call was great with their phone triage, very very detailed, which they put in my electronic health record.

I truly pity the folk who don't have a healthcare background and how they get through not only the system, but can talk to and process what medical "professionals" communicate.

My headache (sorry - aching head) was left sided, the same side my sensitivity to my arm is located, the same side I have Impingement Syndrome in my shoulder and the same side I had my spontaneous hearing loss 15 months ago.

The doc (or nurse) never asked if I changed anything in my routine, but I was smart enough to let them know of one - I'll get to that.  But all leads up to a bigger picture.

As for that pity thing, that was not meant to be a slam on anyone - as I think I was on my fourth iteration of process before I started to put a few things together to explain this coherently to the doc and team.  Almost all for naught.

Anyways, two weeks ago I started taking Niacin for my ongoing tinnitus, which seems to be louder lately.  It's not clinically proven to work, but it didn't interact with anything I was already on and the side effects were minimal (as it turns out 3-5% people get headaches - I know now!).

First off, the doc was very very nice.  She (I know, a girl doctor - who knew?) and was committed to having me pain-free before I left. A lofty goal and not one I shared.....I'm a realist / fatalist.

But I had her stumped. We went through my full clinical history once again, along with the triage information I gave the Nurse on Call hours earlier. I know they look for discrepancies in information, so I sucked it up.

However, when I said how the on-set of the ache came on, some wheels started to come off. I said it started as pressure, no pain, in the back of my head, which I felt when I coughed once or twice.  "So you had a mild cold...."

No. No I didn't.

It was 06:00 and I was just doing old man morning noises and routines - not a cold. But for the rest of the appointment she kept referring to "my cold" - which each time I had to tell her "NO,  I did not and do not have".  But you can't unring a bell - and for her, that bell had been gonged.  I finally gave up.

We went through a battery of neurological tests, from walking, reflexes, eye tracking, strength, pokes, tickles, orthostatic vitals - you name it.

Let me tell you, if asked to do a field sobriety test, I don't know I could touch my nose with my fingers when drunk. I didn't do so well sober and we know how big that honker is!  The Hubble can see it from space....without magnification.  That walking heel to toe in a straight line test wasn't much better - though I suggest not doing it in Birkenstocks.

Since I do have the shoulder thing, the doc would have guessed it was a pinched nerve, "but I'm watching you move your neck and shoulders and you are not limited any way in your mobility, so it's most likely not that.".   Ruled (probably) one thing out.  I axed if it could be sinus related but she said not from where I was saying the pain centered, so two things ruled out.

It was the pain on the exterior of the head that really stymied her.  Her and me both.  We did determine the pain was emanating from the C2 and C3 area - but mostly the former.

We opted not to do an MRI at this time, since I had one 15 months ago and the results were fine.

While we agreed to stop the Niacin, but she didn't want to wait to see if that worked (her wanting pain to stop now, not later).  So we opted for a three day course of steroids (oh, I hope I grow big big strong muscles and maintain them by Monday evening - though I'll never play major league baseball again) and another drug which she gave me by the pharmaceutical name, which turns out to be an anti-depressant.

Mind you, I'm cranky a lot of my life, but not depressed, but it is also used for neuropathic pain.

Being on it might make me depressed, as I am supposed stay out of the sun and cut out alcohol for the time I'm on it.  Good thing it is only for 2-3 weeks.  Had I started a week earlier, my reunion with friends would have been a disaster.

The steroid can increase my appetite, so just to be sure, I played it safe and made sure we had pudding, potato chips and the like in the house. If I'm gonna have a side effect, I'm gonna make it work to my advantage.

So if the headache (sorry, aching head) goes away in the next two to three weeks, I can stop the medications. If it doesn't then we'll regroup.

Oh - and I'm also not to take pain meds during this time to avoid having the pain "rebound".

I'd like to say I'm hopeful, but I'm a realist / fatalist.  By the time I got to the doctor, I just kind of assumed this would probably be with me for life. Then I thought how much it sucks for people who have chronic pain and if moving to Washington or Oregon for assisted suicide would be the answer.

Maybe it's a good thing they gave me an anti-depressant.

...and this is my 3000th post.  Yikes.

Song by: Garbage


Ur-spo said...

how frustrating !

Which antidepressant?

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

How frustrating. I hope this leads to nothing and to something. Your doctor sounds like a good one.

anne marie in philly said...

holy shit! please keep us posted on your progress, dear. and everything does NOT fall apart at 50; in 2 weeks I will be 59 and I am on no recurring daily meds, save for a multi-vitamin.

Anonymous said...

Hope the doc finds out what's going on and takes care of it.

BTW things can fall apart sooner as we age. I already have a torn bicep tendon as proof.

Jeffrey said...

C2/C3 nerve roots? Maybe Craniosacral can help if that's contributing to this issue. You can find a craniosacral person via this link:

I see at least 4 in the Heights area on this search list. Hope this helps you. I have a funky nerve compression at the moment as well, so I feel your pain (metaphorically, vicariously).

Erik Rubright said...

Well damn. Hopefully someone somewhere gets something figured out for you soon.