April 2013 Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival
The April Headache Disorders and Migraine Blog Carnival theme is "Unexpected blessings that have come out of our experiences living with migraine disease and other headache disorders."
My unexpected blessings came after I sustained my TBI on December 9, 1996. I was carrying my son Sam who was almost two years old at the time to the car to put him in his car seat and run a few errands. I slipped on a patch of black ice on our concrete driveway and smashed the back of my head very hard. The next thing I knew, Sam was sitting on my lap crying, everything was fuzzy, and my head and neck really hurt. It's been just over 16 years since my life was forever altered.
I don't remember getting into the house and using the phone, but somehow I managed to do just that and call my dear friend and neighbor, Gisele. I probably remembered her number because I dialed it so often each day Frank her husband answered and said Gisele wasn't around, later saying I "didn't sound right." The next thing I remember was being in the backseat of my car with Sam and Frank driving. I don't even remember how Sam got into the car seat. Frank said Sam was having trouble walking - it turned out he had a sprained ankle. From what we can piece together, I must have held onto Sam so he wouldn't hit his head and I took the brunt of the fall. I protected his head, but my "ample" hips landed on his ankle - hence the sprain. In retrospect this was a good thing, because the street we lived on was pretty busy and if he were able to walk away from me... well the outcome could have been very different. My memory was still impaired when I arrived at the hospital because I wasn't sure who Frank was. He later told me I asked him if he was my husband.
I have no recollection of being examined, changing into a hospital gown, or having my vitals taken. The next thing remembered was having the doctor ask me to touch my finger to my nose. My CT was normal, so with those results in hand and loads of head and neck pain, nausea and amnesia, in addition to Sam's sprained ankle, we were sent home. I was told to rest for the next two days and given a referral to see a neurologist in two weeks.
The next few months remain a blur to me. All I remember is lying on the couch in pain, trying to be a mom and wife. Thankfully, Gisele and my ex-husband Michael kept our household running. From what I've been told, I was 'out of it' for quite a while. My head and neck hurt all the time, I was absolutely exhausted and slept most of the time, and was unable to focus on basic daily tasks. Getting Sarah ready for school and packing lunches was overwhelming. Michael made sure Sarah had everything she needed in the morning for school and in the afternoons, Gisele, along with her two young children would be there to get Sarah off the bus, help her with her homework, get dinner started and complete the basic tasks that any mom would be able to do. Then there was Sam who seemed to need my sole attention 24/7. Thank goodness for their help. My poor kids, Sarah was in Kindergarten and I missed most of her year. Sam, well, he had his own issues at that time anyway, so we just added this one to the pile!! (But he is turning out just fine, thank you.)
My first appointment with a neurologist was two weeks after I fell. He confirmed I had a concussion and added post-concussion syndrome to the mix. He did want to rule out my fall wasn't from a seizure and ordered an EEG - which was normal. He did say my symptoms should have been subsiding by now and he wasn't sure how long they would last. He prescribed Fioricet and Elavil for pain and said my symptoms would slowly decrease. My next appointment was in three months.
My "recovery" continued as my head pounded, neck ached, and I couldn't concentrate on much of anything. I was dizzy (and continue to be) have short-term memory loss, daily chronic pain, occasional irritability, and could no longer multi-task like I used to. Multi-tasking was one of my best attributes - I could do laundry, cook a pretty nice dinner, pay a few bills and help the kids with their homework, all at the same time. That's what I call multi-tasking! But now I was (and continue to be) easily overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks.
I stayed with my first neurologist for about 18 months but I didn't seem to be making any progress. My GP gave me a referral to another neurologist who I worked with for quite some time. He was very smart, but specialized in brain tumors. This doctor was kind, compassionate and willing to try new treatments, but then we moved to Buffalo and I needed a new doctor.
My current neurologist has been very helpful in many ways. When I first met him he said my situation was "desperate" and it was time I got some help. In addition to post-concussion syndrome, he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and said he was (and continues to be) open to second opinions. He along with my ophthalmologist confirmed I had idiopathic intracranial hypertension and sent me to a neuro-ophthalmologist for further testing. He also the doctor who sent me to a university pain clinic headache clinic in Syracuse at my request where we discovered the disc issues in my neck.
As I continue my journey with chronic pain my life has changed dramatically - my marriage ended, my children have grown up and I am entering the second half of my life uncertain of many things. I am however, certain that I have been blessed by getting to know all the wonderful people in the migraine and headache community. Without all of them, I'm not sure I'd have come this far.
Next month the theme of the Headache Disorders and Migraine Blog Carnival will be "Tips and tricks for coping with the changes brought about in our lives by Migraine & Headache Disorders."
Thanks for reading and feel well,
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