Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Headache Journey......part 2......Could This Be the Answer?

To read about the beginning of my headache journey you can click here.

After I left Dr. Spight's office I was a little in shock. I wasn't quite sure what to think. Did I give myself the chance to have, dare I say it? HOPE? 
As soon as I could, I made an appointment at the Medical Center near my home to have an MRI. I've never had an MRI before. Saying I was nervous was an understatement. I'm claustrophobic. I don't like to be enclosed in anything especially if I don't feel that there is a way out. 

I like big open spaces!

MRI data could soon play a major role in determining whether stroke survivors are candidates for tPA therapy.
So I climbed onto the coffin torture device MRI table thingy. The MRI tech hands me a little squeezy thing. "This is your emergency stop button. It will let us know if you need to stop. But, remember, if we need to stop we start all over." Dear Mother of God, what are you people doing to me that I need a panic button!
I numbly take the white squeezy thing and bravely say, "Oh, I should be fine, no big deal." But what I'm really thinking is, do you happen to have a shot of Jack, tequila, or any other hard alcohol any where? Is that part of the protocol these days, state your name, date of birth and here is your shot before we start the torture!
 SERIOUSLY...Your going to stick me in what?
So I lay down on the hard bed, they strap me in and tell me, now don't move at all! Or we start all over. OK, that calms me so much. Thanks!
Oh so slowly, I slide into the MRI device. It's very white in there. Then they say over the intercom, we're going to start now, you ready? As ready as I'll ever be, giddy-up. 
That's when the loud jack hammer starts. It sounds like I'm in a nuclear attack. 
Nuclear Bomb being tested in the atmosphere.
Photo: Pravda
I've never really had a panic attack before because of being in an enclosed space. I guess I've always said I'm claustrophobic but I really don't believe it until that very moment when the oh-so-white walls of the MRI chamber start to collapse on me. My heart starts beating so hard that I'm sure they'll have to stop because they can see it! Two seconds into it and I'm contemplating squeezing the panic thing! No way, I can do this. I start taking deep, deep breaths. Slow, deep breaths. I close my eyes. Why didn't they tell me to close my eyes? The noise is still loud, but I focus on my breathing rather than the noise. I think I can, I think I can. Hell no I am NOT letting them stop this machine just because I'm a wuss! 
2 hours later..."OK, we're all done! I'll be in to help you out" they say over the speaker. So it wasn't really 2 hours, more like 15 minutes, but it was pure hell! How do people stay in there for longer! I've heard some people have them last a couple hours!!!! I would need some major drugs if I were to do that. I applaud those people for being brave enough to be in those horrible machines that long. Even if I have another 15 minuter I'm asking for drugs, I am not too proud!
Sorry to go on so much about that but it was very traumatic for me, as you can plainly see! :)

We went back up to the Institute for Low Back and Neck Care to bring them my MRI results and to determine the next steps. 
Dr. Spight pulls up the results on his laptop and goes over them with us. Everything in my neck is perfectly fine. No ruptured discs, nothing. So he says that tells him it most likely is Occipital Neuralgia - aka excited nerves in my head! Oh yeah, the jokes haven't stopped with that one!

The point of entry of the occipital nerve is about one inch below and one inch to the side of the bony prominence at the back of your head
So now we need to schedule a test. Because with Occipital Neuralgia we need to stop that nerve from telling everything around it that it hurts. {I know this isn't the correct medical terminology but if I try to tell you all about it that way, I'm going to sound like a dumb ass. So I'm using my own terms and some pics I found on-line to help describe what I went through and what I learned about that.}
The test we are going to do before the BIG shebang is an injection of cortisone and Novocaine. But the kicker is, I have to schedule this out and for the first time in my life hope and pray I have a headache. Because we can only do this test if I'm having pain. Ugh ~ seriously. I can't predict these things and they are almost every day, but not every day! And sometimes they come and go!
So the morning comes and I have to get up and get ready. I wake up with a slight headache on the left side, not a bad one by any means, but I feel pain. And that's all I need. I have always been able to move my head at different angles, or if my arm isn't just right or if I'm shrugging I can induce a headache. These Occipital Nerves of mine are very finicky! Almost anything induces pain. The entire car ride up to the Cities I'm pushing around on my head, moving it in all different angles to see if I can get the pain to be more intense. {who would have thunk?}
We get to the office building, sign in and get back to my little prep room. The nurse comes in to get my IV started. Oh great, here we go. I hate IV's. {I know, I know, am I a whiner or what?} I've had one surgery in my life so, just as I was with the MRI machine, I'm kind of wuss with procedures. But, come on, I've given child birth! Twice! And the end result of this could mean I'm pain free!
I pull my big girl panties on and get the IV like a big girl. Do I get a sticker? No, sucker? Hmmmm....
I put my hair in a pony on top of my head so they can reach my Occipital Nerve for the injections. 
They have me lay face down on the skinny little table. 
Side note: the day before my procedure, klutzy Amy got out of her car and smacked her head on the car door. Right in the middle of my forehead. Right where they are now telling me to lay said forehead! I'm trying to get rid of pain here, not get more!
I lay down and they clean my head with iodine. This of course, they inform me, is turning my blond hair orange. Too funny!
Then Dr. Spight has his Radiology Tech there to take images to make sure he is in the right spot. Thank you Dr. Spight for making sure you know where you are sticking needles into my head before you do it. Would you please talk with that other doctor who blindly did this and then sent me on my lonesome way?
He first numbs the area with Novocain. I feel a small pinch. Then he injects the cortisone in each side. Honestly, this entire scene is kind of sketchy for me, first, because I'm nervous as hell and second, because they were sticking a bunch of big ol' needles in my head. So my account of the whole situation could be a little off. 
After the injections, they ask where my pain level is at. When I arrived that day my pain was probably at a 3, not the worst I've had by any means, but now, after the test procedure? 
I'm at a big fat 0 baby!
3 hours after the procedure I have to call in to tell them my pain. Still a 0! I'm tired, but that's about it. I'm probably more tired because of all the stress than anything. 
I'm to live my life as normal and call them after a week. Sometimes this shot can do it. Sometimes not and the next step is needed.  
So now we are playing a waiting game. Just waiting to see how long this shot lasts and if it is my final step in this journey or if I go to the next step...I'll give you a small hint...this journey is not over after those shots...


Colleen said...

Hi Amy! Just saw your comment on my blog. Thanks for reading!!! My curiosity is definitely piqued with 50 shades of grey. I am laughing at your comment. I'll keep you posted as I think I'll have to see what all the fuss is about!!

Greta said...

I've never had a MRI -- scary! You are brave for not pushing your 'panic button.' :) :)
Praying that your headaches are gone for good! :D

thecoffeehouse said...

oh man, that coffin thingy would scare the crap out of me! you are so brave. headaches?! ugh. I don't do well with them. Thinking of you!!

dreaming en francais said...

Oh man, I'd be feeling pretty claustrophobic in there too -- and the "panic button" would make me feel even more queasy about the whole thing! xo