fierce attachments

a mother-daughter blog about the fierce attachments in our lives… title inspired by Vivian Gornick's wonderful memoir

Category: migraine and chronic pain

living with chronic pain – someone else’s: part 2

by nikki meredith

chopping vegetablesMy husband walks in the door from work. I’m in the kitchen chopping vegetables.  He kisses me and asks how I am. I shrug and then place the tips of my three middle fingers over my right eye – the sign that I have a migraine.   “Oh no,” he says. “I’m so sorry.” And he does look sorry though I wonder how he can keep feeling sorry when it’s  such a frequent occurrence. But even more than that, I wonder, why do I do this to him? Why do I need to tell him?

It’s easier for me to answer why I shouldn’t tell him than why I do.  I shouldn’t tell him because I assume that the hardest part of living with someone with a painful medical condition is the feeling of helplessness. I know how I feel when he’s suffering from any malady, large or small, especially if there’s nothing I can do to make him better.  When you love someone, you want to alleviate his or her suffering and when you can’t, it’s terrible. And when you can’t alleviate the suffering, over and over and over again, it must be terrible over and over and over again.  So, I repeat, why do I tell him? If I love him, why don’t I spare him this ordeal? Read the rest of this entry »


living with chronic pain – someone else’s: part I

by nikki meredith

I woke up this morning smiling.  It was the first morning in three days that I didn’t have either searing pain behind my right eye or nausea. I took the dog for a walk with a sizable bounce in my step. I ate breakfast and after breakfast I took a shower and, as I towel-dried my hair, I thought about how good the day promised to be. It was, after all, a glorious fall day and I was without pain. And then I heard the unmistakable, high-pitched whine of a smoke detector. I was confused. We don’t have a smoke detector.  (Why we don’t have one is a long story but it has to do with high ceilings in the kitchen and low tenacity in life.) I threw on my bathrobe and followed the sound to our guest room.  I opened the door. Opening that door was a terrible mistake. There was, indeed, a smoke detector emitting an ear-splitting shriek. I quickly closed the door. In a matter of seconds, the fierce, penetrating sound brought with it the searing pain behind my eye that had vanished a few hours before.

All that happened in that room is that I heard a sound. Read the rest of this entry »

my migraine, my HMO and me

by nikki meredith

As I’ve indicated in a previous post, I’ve had migraines for 34 years. During that time I’ve been treated by internists, family practice physicians, neurologists, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, biofeedback therapists, and a multitude of body work practitioners employing a variety of techniques – acupressure, shiatsu, rolfing, etc. I have practiced yoga, Pilates, and an assortment of aerobic exercises promising that the oxygen intake would diminish my pain. I’ve also been injected with Botox, which, as mentioned in my last post, did not work. I’ve ingested feverfew, fish oil capsules and St. Johns Wart and because some migraine sufferers have been helped by anti-depressants, I have been prescribed Prosac, Paxil, Wellbutrin and Nardil (this is a scary one: if you eat aged cheese, pickled herring or drink red wine, your blood pressure can spike to the point of death…but hey, if the drug eliminated my migraines, it would be more than worth that kind of vigilance). I have also been given a series of drugs that are prescribed for people with seizure disorders — Verapamil (a calcium channel blocker), Topamax and Neurontin.  Not only did none of the above eliminate migraines, many of them triggered terrible head pain  – the most severe migraine was produced by Nardil. Read the rest of this entry »

one woman’s experience with a good pain doctor

by nikki meredith

As I write this, an intense pain is beginning to throb behind my right eye.  I gave myself a shot of Imitrex, a non-narcotic vasoconstrictor two hours ago but the injections only provide me with two hours of relief and the pain is returning. One can only have two injections in a 24-hour period so if the pain returns, and it does three out of four times, I need relief for the 20 remaining hours. I’ve had migraines for 34 years and during that time I have been to countless clinicians — conventional, alternative and combinations of both. I have been prescribed every category of drug that has a record of treating migraines, either in double blind studies or anecdotally, both on-label and off-label and too many herbs, elimination diets, “therapeutic” diets, supplements and non medical therapeutics to recount here. Out of all of the above, only one thing ever worked preventively: the blood pressure pill Inderal.  For three months I was migraine-free. And then they came back, if not with a vengeance, with disappointing regularity.  The doctor tried upping the dose and kept upping it until I was so lethargic I could barely get out of bed in the morning. High doses made no difference.  That was 25 years ago. Since then, years of trial and error, mostly error, have resulted in pain more days than not.

Despite that, life has been fine for the past six years because I’ve been under the care of a pain doctor. Read the rest of this entry »

Painkiller Paranoia is Over Prescribed

by nikki meredith

At least once a week there’s an article in The New York Times about the dark side of opiate use. Veterans, NFL players, pregnant women, old people — all on painkillers, all at special risk, whatever the study of the week finds.  Oxy, as in Oxycodone, is now ubiquitous in popular culture: we have Nurse Jackie lying, stealing and having sex to score oxy; the The Good Wife defending a doctor accused of prescribing oxycodone to a star high school quarterback who overdosed; and many of the Harlan County reprobates on Justify pop, sell or kill for oxycodone.

All of this attention strikes fear in the heart of those of us living with serious pain. Most pain patients will not die if they can’t get enough medication to dull the pain  (in most cases opiates don’t eliminate pain, they only ease it) but our appetite for living will certainly be diminished and, according to research, the toll unmediated chronic pain takes on our bodies will shorten our lives.  The drumbeat to restrict the prescribing of opiates is getting louder and who knows where this attention will lead. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: