Occipital Nerve Block

Well the headache relief saga continues. If you remember, last November I had Radio Frequency Ablation done on the nerves in my neck. As a brief explanation, this procedure burns the nerve endings to break the pain cycle. But my headaches seem to originate in the Occipital nerve on the back of my head. Here is a diagram of the location of the Occipital nerve.

The treatment for headaches from that specific location is an Occipital Nerve Block. So I had that procedure done today. Here is a 3 minute you tube video of what my doctor did today. This video is showing it done on only one side. I had it done on both sides. (If needles make you squimish you might not want to watch the video)

So now we wait. My entire head was numb for most of the afternoon. Imagine how your mouth feels after you finish at the dentist. That’s how my entire head felt.

I’m not sure what is next if this doesn’t work. I’ve had nerve blocks done before (many times). Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Two years ago when I had the RFA procedure done I got great results. This time the results haven’t been as successful. I’m hoping the combination of the RFA and the nerve block will do the trick.

My Fibromyalgia manifests itself mostly in my upper back, neck and shoulders. My headaches are the result. A daily headache gets old after a while. I can live with it. I’ve lived with a daily headache most of the last 20 years. But I love that my doctor is not satisfied to accept that. He has hope for both of us – which is a good thing because I’ve pretty much accepted that it’s not gonna get better. I’m not trying to be a Debbie-Downer but that is the reality of my feelings.

At any rate, that’s been my day and my newest treatment procedure. I’ll keep you posted on the results. Who knows – maybe this time will be the time it works.


Childhood Athletics and a Healthier Life

What a week! This time last weekend I was dreading this week because I knew I was having my RFA procedure again (explain that in a minute), had soccer games to go to and Ron was gonna be out of town. But some how I survived it and I didn’t even get stressed out. THAT is a God thing for sure!

Lauren’s final high school soccer season ended Thursday. They are playing in the District Tournament on Monday this coming week. But until she picks a college and we get her there she is done with organized soccer. I feel very good about it. Putting a child into an organized sport is so good for them. They learn so many skills – not just athletically but also a lot of character building skills. Our kids have played sports their entire childhood. I know that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. They learn responsibility, how to work as part of a team, self-control, anger management (wait that was MY lesson), how to live a healthy active lifestyle. All of are skills they will use in every area of their life for the rest of their lives. And I have no doubt we have set a standard for future generations in our family line.

Lady Eagles Soccer Seniors of 2012

Last fall I had a series of medical procedures done to help treat my daily headaches. It’s no surprise to any of you here that I suffer with chronic pain daily. If you’ve even stopped by my blog once you’ve probably picked up on that. The procedure I had done is called Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA). I went to my previous blog entry from last year where I talked about the process. I could pretty much write the exact same words to explain the procedure itself and my reactions during/after it to a degree. However there was one significant difference. Last year both procedures (one on each side of the neck) threw me into a major Fibromyalgia flare up for at least a week afterwards. This time for this first round it really only put me out of commission for 1 1/2 days. I even had a different doctor do it this time (not my choice) and there was MUCH more pain involved. What’s different about this time? The only thing I’m doing different this time is using the AdvoCare. For the last 5 1/2 months I have been drinking at least one Spark a day, taking daily doses of CorePlex and using the BioTools product daily. In some obvious ways, I can tell a big difference since I began using AdvoCare. And at times like this, when I would normally be in a flare, my health has improved dramatically.

Well, this coming week is Fall Break. That may mean a break from school for the kids. But I think that means the opposite for the parents. So, I’ll see ya when I see ya!

What Do Wrinkles And Headaches Have In Common? Botox!!

What do chronic headaches and wrinkles have in common? BOTOX, of course! I find it a very interesting connection. Like a lot of medications these days doctors have discovered an unexpected benefit for a condition completely different than what the medicine is made for. It is, however, reserved for patients who are most difficult to treat. Apparently, 28 years of treatment that doesn’t help was convincing enough for my insurance company to approve me. YAY ME!

The studies done are very intriguing. One study done was the largest to date with 271 patients. Eighty perfect of them reported significant relief from their headache pain. That is very encouraging. To think that something so simple might finally bring me some relief is very exciting! Years of surgical procedures, innumerable narcotics, heating pads, ice packs, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustment and manipulations, steroid injections have all brought me such minimal short-lived relief that it’s been very discouraging. To think of how much money we have spent for me to simply find relief from a headache, the number of family events I have missed out on, the insurmountable amount of guilt I have placed on myself, the bottles full of tears I have shed due to the unrelenting pain and the constant confusion about how to relieve them completely boggles my mind. Even as I write this I wonder how a person maintains their sanity through all of that.

I am thrilled to be a month away from what appears to be a very positive and simple procedure that MIGHT bring me some relief. But I do go into this with apprehension. I remember when my dad was going through all that he was going through he guarded himself from too much hope. High expectations and allowing yourself to get wrapped up in the hope that THIS is gonna work can lead to just more grief if/when it doesn’t help. The studies are positive. They certainly give me reason to hope this will be “it”. But I am trying to keep my expectations at bay. I’ve been on this trip many many times before. Each trip has either led me to a dead end or a very short trip when I was expecting a long road trip.

The article that I read stated this:

Researchers are unsure why Botox relieves head pain. For its other uses — including alleviating wrinkles and treating certain medical conditions — the purified protein relaxes the overactive muscle by blocking nerve impulses that trigger contractions. For Migraines, there is no muscle component. Scientists believe Botox works by blocking the protein that carries the message of pain to the brain.

I’m all about blocking the message of pain. I’d really just like to completely turn off the whole pain signal system of my brain. It has been working overtime for too long. I’m tired of it’s overachieving quality.

At any rate, I will certainly keep you informed. I will write about the procedure, side effects (apparently there are very very few) and the results. That’s what my blog is about anyway – sharing information with you. Please pray that it works for me. I can’t really imagine what it might feel like to not have some degree of a headache every day. To be able to think clearly without having to push thoughts around in my head through the pain. What a concept! Is that really possible? Are there really people out there who DON’T have a headache every day? That’s all I’ve known. That’s been normal for me for 28 years. I wonder what it feels like to live without the pain of a headache every day. I wanna find out – you know, just to say I’ve tried it. I’m an adventurous girl. I like to do things just to say I’ve done them. So I’m gonna go for it!

In A Word…..Headaches (Too Many Questions & Not Enough Answers)

If you have read any of this blog in the last 6 years then it should be no surprise to you that I deal with a headache every single day. Some days are better than others. Some days if I don’t give it too much thought I can not think about the nagging pain in the brain portion of my body. Some days all I can think about is the pain in the brain – I have no choice.

This is what it feels like!

The question that has troubled me for the last 27 years is what kind of headache is it. That is a really difficult question to answer. There are a few question those of us with a chronic illness of any kind find almost impossible to answer, which is even more frustrating than the actual question. Some of those questions are: How are you? How are you feeling? Why are you depressed? What has happened to cause this pain/feeling? On a scale of 1-10 with a 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced in your life what is your pain level?. And for those of us with chronic headaches – Where does it hurt?

I realize it is frustrating as a caregiver or a friend/family member who is sincerely concerned about how we are to try to get information from us on how we are feeling. And honestly we don’t want you to stop asking us. It’s just frustrating to us to have to come up with a different way to say “I feel like something you would scrape off the bottom of your shoe” each day. I suppose there really isn’t a “good” way to ask how we are. If/When we come up with one we will let you know. Until then we will just keep saying “fine” or “ok” or “my pain level is a 20”.

At any rate, headaches! There are so many kinds of headaches that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which category I fall into. Which category does a 27 year headache fit into exactly? Tension? Cluster? Migraine? Hormonal? Rebound? Sinus? My answer would probably be ALL OF THE ABOVE. Trying to get relief from an “all of the above” headache is like a blind man trying to through a dart and hit a bullseye from a mile away. Eventually you just give up and admit that there probably is nothing that will take them away. Sure – there are ways to get temporary relief for a short period of time. But after this long a person just gets tired of being the guinea pig or lab rat. After one disappointing result upon disappointing result you just accept that your lot in life is to live with a headache every day till the day you meet Jesus.

It’s frustrating! It’s infuriating! You feel defeated and betrayed by your body. All you can do though is learn to live with the pain – learn to function AROUND the pain – work at trying to put a smile on your face and make it be believable – find the things in your life that you can be thankful for and attempt to focus on those – and try to exhibit some self-control when the next person asks you why you are in pain or have a headache. Honestly, most days that last one is the most difficult for me.

I have to recognize that most people just don’t get it. And for them they should be grateful that ignorance is bliss.

RFA Round One Complete

Well, I want to thank all of you who prayed for me today.  I received nerve ablation (burning) on the right side of my neck at C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6.  C2 was by far the most painful.  The farther to the top of the spine you go the tougher the skin is.  While my amazing pain management doctor, Dr. John Nwofia, did a great job of numbing the entire area from top all the way to the nerve the pressure was very uncomfortable.  Continue reading

The 28 Year Headache

I still remember the day. I was in 10th grade at Springfield christian school in algebra class. That is the first day of headaches I remember. I’m sure there were headaches before that day. But that is the first day of the kind of intense headaches I still suffer from to this day. That was 28years ago. The headache pain I have today feels the same that it did that day. Some things in life you just do not forget.

Chronic headaches – no rhyme or reason. Just lots of pain. A lot of tests and years and thousands of dollars later and I still have the same headache. What’s up with that? Who knows! I do know that I don’t like it that I still have no answers but I still have the same pain. Brain tumor? Nope! Migraines? Nope! Headache that pain medicines won’t help? Pretty much. Can you see it when you look at me? Nope! Is it an Invisible Illness? Yep!

The next few entries here will be exploring headaches, their causes, their solutions and what could POSSIBLY be done to help us. Yet another invisible illness.