More on Imitrex . . .

Friday’s post made a pretty radical statement about Imitrex, so I thought I should put it in context by posting the entire relevant section of the e-newsletter Dr. Sears sent out last week (my wife read her copy on Thursday, I think).  So, here it is:

“I treat a lot of different kinds of chronic pain at my clinic. The patients most desperate for relief are the migraine sufferers.

If you get migraines, you know they can knock you out for days at a time.

The World Health Organization says migraines are to blame for more lost years of healthy life than multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ovarian cancer and tuberculosis combined.1

But mainstream medicine knows very little about the cause of migraines or how to treat them. Most doctors prescribe Imitrex. That’s a drug to help relieve headaches, pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.

But Imitrex can actually cause headaches. They’re called rebound headaches.

And it has other terrible side effects like slurred speech… diarrhea… hallucinations… twitching muscles… vision changes…

And over-the-counter remedies are no better. Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can make the pain worse. They can cause an “analgesic rebound effect.” This means your headache can come back when you stop taking them.

And we’re learning more every day about just how dangerous these drugs really are…

In fact, a study published earlier this month in the journal BMJ found that your risk of having a heart attack increased as much as 50% after taking ibuprofen

Regardless of dose or length of time you take it…

Sometimes, nutrient deficiencies — like a magnesium deficiency — can be behind migraines. But for some patients, making sure they get enough of the right nutrients isn’t enough to stop the pain. Still, that doesn’t mean I resort to Big Pharma’s meds…”

So, there you have it.  It is a vicious cycle for me – because it all started with pain management following the treatment of a bone tumor.  The pain meds continued over a period of  around 15 years almost daily, before I even got an inkling of an idea that this might not be smart.  Shortly after that, I had my first migraine – which I later learned was likely CAUSED by the long-term use of the pain meds.  So, I start using Excedrine for the migraines, and my joints started to decline more rapidly – so I try to medicate them (by this point I was using non-prescription liquid pain relief as much as possible) and the migraines got worse.  Eventually I got word that Imitrex would help, so I asked the VA for that and got it.

In the last 6 years I started using reading glasses – and about a month ago I asked my wife to get a new pair with stronger correction.  And here is something I didn’t even think to connect to the whole cycle – I get random muscle twitches pretty much everywhere, but especially in my eye lids and legs.

So, to answer a question asked about Friday’s posts – no, this is not sustainable.  Not really.  But, I still have little choice but to bear with it until we get the cefaly device to see how well it helps me. If we get it ordered by the end of June, I’m thinking I should know how well it does or doesn’t do the job by mid September.

I’m hopeful, but I am also realistic enough to admit that it may fail to help – if it does, I’m not chasing any more rainbows.  I’ve seen people bankrupt their families trying to buy a few more days.  I will not do that.  However long I have remaining – and let’s be realistic, no matter how bad my quality of life gets, it could still last another 40 years – I will accept and use to be the best partner for my wife that I can be with what I have to work with.

Saturday Posts . . .

Sorry, I didn’t get one posted in advance.  We had strong storms nearly all of the last week, and when the storms finally quit, yesterday, I tried to get some sleep.  Woke up with another migraine, and still have not received the refill of Imitrex from the VA Hospital.

So, I’m sitting in a dark room, with sunglasses on, nursing a gingerale for an upset stomach.

Health update . . .

You want to know something?  If it weren’t for the migraines and arthritis, I’d probably live forever with this body.

That’s only partially a joke.

Today I had my annual physical at the VA health clinic I’ve been going to for nearly 10 years.  They drew a fasting blood lab first, and then I went to see my primary care doctor.  He got the results of the blood work while we were talking.

EVERYTHING – Yes, everything, was within “normal limits” except for my cholesterol numbers, which have been elevated since the first time I was ever tested.

When the team nurse tested my blood pressure, she had to do it twice.  The first time it was 128/94 – which I would have accepted.  But, she said she got distracted talking to another nurse, and she and I had discussed the logistics of the VA moving the clinic to another town (which is supposed to happen late next year), so she wanted to do it again.  The second test was 120/87.

Keep in mind – I’m now 54 years old, and take no medication for blood pressure control.

But, when I saw the doctor, he didn’t like the numbers because he said the second one was too high.  So, he tested it himself.

And the numbers HE got were 110/80.

For the first time since he met me, he didn’t even bother asking me to take medicine for my cholesterol.  When he pulled up the blood test results, he did say that it was still high, but when my wife asked him how it compared with last year he acknowledged that the LDL was down 50 points from last year.  So he just told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and dropped it.

Be Careful . . .

My wife grew up in Missouri, and still has many relatives in the state. Earlier this week, we had a high temp here of 70F degrees, and one of my wife’s cousins that is still in Missouri posted the following on her Facebook page:

Sixty degrees in January is an absolute guarantee of an approaching apocalyptic winter storm.

Here on Thursday, just two days later, we had a high temp predicted of 39F degrees, an overnight low of 24F, and a 50% chance of precipitation. Followed on Friday the high temp was supposed to be about 35F with 90% chance of precipitation, and Friday night the prediction was 20F with an 80% chance of precipitation.

All of those percentages were accurate at 1100 hrs (11:00 am) CST on Thursday – as reported by Weather.com. As I’m posting it, we’re now at Saturday morning, and it’s pretty much all come to pass, with the freezing rain/ice expected to continue through Sunday. Monday it’s supposed to climb back up to around 60F degrees – and drop to near freezing again Monday night after raining all day.

Guess who’s getting well acquainted with Jose’ right now?

Election aftermath . . .

Well, US Election 2016 is over.

As you probably remember, my wife is a librarian who works in a university library.  The vast majority of university faculty in the US are, it would seem, liberals.  So, when my wife got up to prepare for work this morning, I pulled her leg just a bit.

Specifically, I asked her if the library has any procedures in place to deal with any of her co-workers spontaneously combusting.  She wanted to know what I meant, and choosing my words very carefully, I said, “President-Elect Trump is going to have a much better day today than most of your colleagues.”

It took a few seconds for that to sink in – but in her defense she had just awakened.

I hope you have a great day today, whatever outcome you hoped for yesterday.

10 days grain-free . . .

I thought it was a good idea to turn off all the politics and just do an update on this grain-free experiment my wife and I are doing.  We’re now 10 days into eating NOTHING with any known grain in it.

You know what?  I’ve felt like this before.  Back in 1995, when I was a newly minted Minister in the Church of Scientology.  Completing the ordination was the final step on my being fully-trained for my post, and thus opened the door to my doing training/processing that wasn’t just about my job.  The first action I did?

The Purification Rundown.

I can’t say anything bad about the Purif (as it is usually called).  It was the first step in opening my eyes to the environmental hazards this “modern” world has forced us all to live in.  That, and I did get some awesome results.  That said, the last 2 days of the Purif were, for me, a total living nightmare.  The pain was worse than anything I’d ever experienced, with the exception of passing a kidney stone (I’ve done that 7x now).

This grain-free program is bringing that all back.  I got my very first migraine in the Purif (although I didn’t know to call it that at the time).  Now I’m getting what I’m calling micro-migraines.  The pain is the same as a migraine – usually in the same place.  However the headaches only last between half an hour and 90 minutes, and I can have 3-4 of them a day.  Every day.

There is another reason I deliberately tied this experience to my experience doing the Purif.  They are both processes aimed at better body health, and as such, you have to expect things to get worse before they get better.  Think of it this way – something made your body ill – to get better you have to chase that something out of your body.  While it is stirred up and running out, it is going to be affecting everything it passes through on it’s way to the door.  Sort of like chasing a wild bull through a china shop.

So, even though I feel lousy right now, I have enough awareness of what is going on to accept that this is what is SUPPOSED to happen, and I’m going to hold on and tough it out.  I’d think it should start getting easier in a few days, except that I have no honest idea just how bad the damage to my intestines was.  This might actually take a few months to get all the way through, for me – because I took NSAID pain killers like breath mints from 1980 to 1995.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time.  The way out is the way through.  Whatever turns it on, turns it off.

I think you get the idea.  Mostly I’m trying to remind myself.

2-3 days . . .

Seriously, what is this country coming to?

A little while back, I was talking to my dad and he mentioned that he had an extra “Trump for President” yard sign, and asked if I wanted it.  Needing an excuse to get him here (I hadn’t yet delivered his birthday present, which was overdue at that point) and preferring Donald to Hillary anyhow, I accepted.

When he got to our house, the first thing he did was put it in our front yard.

I really didn’t pay that much attention, but I did notice that 2-3 days later it was gone.  Missing.  Vanished.

Seriously, is this country now so polarized that the only acceptable response to someone putting up a yard sign is to STEAL it?  Cue the violins, Nero has a solo coming up . . . .

Comedy of errors?

The last time I wrote about my struggle with Social Security over whether or not I qualify for disability, they had to reschedule a hearing because the doctor who was supposed to give expert testimony after a review of my records had not received the disc the records would be on.

Well, we finally had the replacement hearing on Tuesday morning.  Normally, I would have posted about it by Wednesday, but the whole “May the 4th be with you” thing caused me to delay writing the post.  Intuitively, I knew I needed to wait.

Thursday afternoon my lawyer called us.  Since my wife is taking vacation time, she was the one who answered the phone.

First, let me share some of my initial observations about the hearing on Tuesday.  The court clerk/typist who usually works in the office I sit in was visible on the video feed sitting in the office with the judge.  She had been replaced locally with a woman who had a less-than-professional bearing.  For one thing, knowing how to touch-type myself, I observed that she (the replacement) was going to have trouble accurately typing anything with finger nails that extended 2″ beyond the end of her fingers.

Anyhow, we had the hearing, and the judge seemed pleased with how smoothly and quickly it went.  My lawyer was nearly ecstatic over how easily she got me to give the specific answer that she needed when she asked me certain questions about my history.

So, when she called me on Thursday afternoon, I was almost thinking that she’d been told we finally won.  Still, intuition said the party was premature.  It was right.

My lawyer had just spoken with the judge, who could not apologize profusely enough for what he had to tell her.  In nearly 20 years of work as a lawyer, she’s never experienced anything like this before.  There exists no record of the hearing Tuesday.  We had a video conference call with the Judge in his court room, but not one minute of it was recorded.  The typed transcript was not “suitable”.

For some reason, when my lawyer told me all of this my memory flashed to the judge stating before we officially started the hearing that they had 6 cases back-to-back.  Thus, my first question to her was, “Did this affect all of the cases they had on Tuesday?”

Yes, it did.  They are scrambling to reschedule ALL of them for as soon as possible – probably at least 3 months, could be as long as 6.

Stay tuned, we’ll be back after this commercial break.

(sorry, I just had to throw in that old television announcer line)

A very busy day . . .

Yesterday was a busy day.

First, the city arrived and put in our 2 new trees (both elms, which will eventually provide afternoon shade for the new sidewalk).  They are in the ground and happy (I think?).  Late last night, Gaia even took care of watering them.

Then I had to call my wife to let her know I was calling an HVAC repairman – at 0900 it was 5F degrees hotter inside the house than it was outside the house, with the A/C turned on.  They arrived at around 1400 (2pm).

Shortly after noon, our mowers arrived – one of them, anyhow.  He told me that his son and daughter-in-law (the other 2) both fell off of a ladder 2 days before while working on some guttering (they also have a guttering and downspout business).  She was about 10 feet off the ground, and landed on the concrete driveway.  He was higher up, but a garden table partially broke his fall.  Both were rendered unconscious by the impacts, but they are doing alright now.

Then the HVAC repairman told me that the problem was 2 parts of our system quit working.  Both could be replaced, but he didn’t have either part on his truck.  One was a capacitor, the other was a circuit breaker.  He has capacitors on his truck – but not for 27 year-old systems.  So, he had to drive out to a supply store to get the parts.  It was all working again before my wife got home from work.

Oh, and though it’s a minor detail in such a busy day – I got an email from the eBay seller we bought a covered litter box from – you really DON’T want to know why we needed that – with a tracking number.  Testing the tracking number at 1430 told me that the package had already reached Lenexa, KS at noon.  While it MIGHT have been able to get here by the end of the day, I was already expecting it to arrive today.  Yep, I was right on it not arriving yesterday, at least.

Oh, and somehow during all of that I still managed to fit in a workout on our new weight bench (despite the severe temp and humidity – there was a storm system wrapping itself around our area all day).

Veteran’s Choice and other updates . . .

Veteran’s Choice:

I finally found out the precise process for going through Veteran’s Choice to get any health care.  First, you have to qualify (which I do, they even re-issued the card for me).  Then you have to get your VA Health System primary care doctor to authorize use of Veteran’s Choice for every visit.  Then you get to actually go to the local physician to get taken care of.

In the case of my possibly getting a hip/femur replacement, it means that I have to go to my VA PC doc, he’ll order x-rays, and then put a consult request into the VA computer system for me to be seen by the nearest orthopedics clinic – Fayetteville.  Then Fayetteville looks over the x-rays and visits with me about my situation.  IF they agree that I should have the procedure, then AND ONLY THEN will I get to see if there are any local surgeons who work with Veteran’s Choice – and that doesn’t even start dealing with the physical therapy after the surgery.

Double the doctor visits; double the x-rays, potentially double the wait time for treatment – and this is supposed to be BETTER care?  I don’t think so!  I was so upset by this revelation that I called my dad – and asked him to call his neighbor and good friend: US SENATOR JERRY MORAN to voice my complaint.  He (dad) said he could do that today.

RANDOM STUFF:

We’re in the process of finding a new home for the black leather, overstuffed, love seat we’ve had in our living room for the last 15 years.  We still like it, and it’s not in bad shape (for sharing a home with indoor cats), but we need the space for the weight bench that I got to prepare for if I get the hip/femur surgery.

I’ve been doing some research, and determined that the hip replacement and the femur replacement are almost the same surgery.  The difference would be that to replace the entire femur should actually be less time in the surgery, because they don’t have to cut the femur with a bone saw and screw on the metal replacement.  But it will leave a larger scar.  Oh well, to get full range of motion and weight-bearing capability back, I think I can live with the scar.

The weight bench has a leg curl/leg extension attachment, so that I can start with low weight and insanely high reps to condition the muscles before the surgery.  Then, after the physical therapist gives me the all-clear, I’ll start working up to heavier weight and get these legs back into the condition they were in before the tumor – at least in theory.

The new weight bench was delivered by FEDEX this morning.

Oh, and in the middle of all the other stuff going on this morning – I got a knock on the front door.  When I answered it was one of the city employees who worked on the new sidewalk through our front yard.  He said that the city “came into some money” specifically allocated for shade trees over the new sidewalk, and he wanted to know if we were interested in getting a couple.  I laughed – I was just on the Arbor Day Society’s website yesterday looking at what we might do along that same idea!  Now all I have to do is go out and put some tomato stakes in the yard to mark where the shade trees should be put and the city will do the rest, within the next week!  WIN!