I have a lot of thoughts jumbled up in my head right now; so, I'm going to try to get them all out...it might be a long post. Fair warning.
Calling in sick to work is probably one of my least favorite things to do because of all of the ramifications it produces in my fish bowl; and yet, throughout my working life, it has happened quite frequently. I've struggled with depression, anxiety, a nervous breakdown, and (of increasing frequency lately) migraines. I really struggled when my memories broke through, but it feels as though that was a different struggle because that was an emotional struggle. As I mentioned, lately I have been struggling a lot with my migraines. A LOT.
So, I've had migraines for as long as I can remember. My mom had chronic headaches, and my grandmother reported to have a headache every day of her life; although, the degree to which her head hurt was never reported. As with all things that have cycled down through my maternal line, my headaches seem to be worse than I ever witnessed with my mother or my grandmother. My mother could always function; my grandmother could always function. Over the years, I've often wondered if maybe they just had more sand than I came away with, but I've finally determined that I just wound up with a very different physiological make-up thanks, in large part, to the combination of my mother and father (thanks, dad).
By the time I was a teenager, I lived on Aleve and Excedrin migraine pills three to four times a day, three to four pills of each at a time. At one point, my friend, Philip, was worried enough about my pill consumption to actually ASK me how I could function on a day-to-day basis with that much medicine in my system, but I hadn't ever really thought about how much I was taking because it seemed normal to me. It was every day. It wasn't until about six months ago that Angel suggested (strongly) that I see a neurologist for my migraines. Up to that point, I had been seeing my family physician, who had been prescribing various medications in an effort to relieve the pain after the fact.
I've taken Vicodin, Imitrex, oxycodone, ibuprofen, aleve, Fiorinal, Toradol, morphine, etc. after the onset of pain in an effort to stop it after it has begun. I don't like keeping narcotics in my house because, quite frankly, I have an addictive personality, and I come from an addiction-prone family line. When I went to see the neurologist, he prescribed Topamax to be taken daily in an effort to stop the migraines before they started, which I thought was a fantastic idea, and it worked....at first. For about the first month, I felt pretty good. I was able to go for about a month without taking any pain pills at all.
The downfall is this: My body has been pumped full of pain meds for at least a good 10-12 years. It now has the uncanny ability to metabolize medication (and booze) very, very quickly. So, once my body got accustomed to the Topamax, I started having migraines again even though I was taking it every day...which presents this problem: In order for the Topamax to continue working, I will have to continue increasing my dose until I can no longer take the medication because I've topped out at the highest dose safely consumed.
AND THAT makes me wonder what the hell I'm bothering to go to the neurologist for because in the end, I'll top out on Topamax, switch to something else, top out on that, switch to something else. I'm spending a lot of money on medications right now, for one, and I'm not any better than I was when I started seeing the neurologist. For two, I'm trying to find other (cheaper) methods for coping with my migraines (i.e. massage therapy, the magic patch) so that I don't feel like a freaking 80-year-old with 50 pills to take in a single day. I really dislike having to take so many pills, and I'd like to get away from that if I can. So, I'm seriously contemplating discontinuing my treatment with the neurologist if the massage therapy provides some relief. I will be safe and smart about it and not stop everything all at once, but I don't see the point in continuing a treatment that I don't feel it helpful in the long run. Plus, I don't want to keep sinking hundreds of dollars into treatment that isn't effective.
PLUS, ever since I started taking the Topamax, I've had a lot of side effects, which is a first for me. I've been on other medications off and on throughout my life; and of all the meds I've been on, I only had side effects with one other. Since I started the Topamax, though, I've noticed a slew of them: upper and lower extremity numbness and tingling, facial numbness, lip twitching / tingling, and monster periods. The latter side effect has really been hard to deal with because I'd just gotten to a point where my periods really weren't that bad. In the past, also, I didn't take pain meds (such as ibuprofen or Tylenol) for my period because it made the next month's cramps worse. For the past few months, though, I've been having such bad cramps, though, that I've even had to take pain pills to make it through them - even then, I'm hurting through the pain pills. Beyond that, I'm bleeding a lot more than I'm accustomed to bleeding, which has me worried too. This has only started since I started taking to Topamax, too; so, it is hard for me not to connect one dot to the other. Not having the side effects is a big draw for stopping my neurology treatment, too, by the way.
So, all of that brings me back to today. I called in sick to work today because I'd been fighting a pretty bad headache since Thursday afternoon, I was bleeding through every freaking thing, and I was hurting really bad. Every time I call in to work, though, I go through an entire circus of ramifications, though. Sometimes, I only hit the highlights; but today, I went through them all. I have never worked with anyone, nor have I ever known anyone HERE (read: that lives within a 50-mile radius of me) that deals with migraines. I have never been able to convince myself that anyone understands what I'm going through. Ultimately, my co-workers and my boss just see that I'm not there. I don't believe they understand how hard it is for me to go through all of this stuff. I don't think they believe I'm trying to figure it all out because ultimately, they only want the end result: the want the product - a good employee who doesn't buck the system, who shows up, and who keeps his / her mouth shut. I get it, I really do, but I have never been able to get to that point.
And you know what? I want to be able to not care. I want to not care what my co-workers and my boss think of me and / or my migraines. I want to not care if they don't believe that I'm doing what I can; but ultimately, I do care. Because it is easy for them to assume that I'm making it up, but I'm not. It is easy to just see what you think you see, but this is my world...my whole life... But more than that, I want to get a handle on my migraines, and I want to be able to go to work every day just like they do. I know that it will never go away. I think I have finally accepted that there will never be a day that I won't have to deal with this, but I want to get to the point where I know what to do. I want to know what works so I can do it.
And I hope I can figure it out before I lose my job.