November was a massive turning point for me, health wise. Work piled up much more than I expected it to. From having no worked booked in at all, I suddenly ended up with more work than I could cope with. It wasn’t difficult work, on the contrary it was relatively easy – but while having daily headaches, work wasn’t something I could enjoy. Every day I woke up furious that my head hurt, and looked forward to nothing but going back to bed when I could fall asleep to escape my head pain.
After running out of my second lot of Sumatriptin, I called my doctor and asked for another appointment. My test results had come in clear, but she still had concerns about what my blood pressure could be doing to my kidneys. She booked me in for more tests, and told me that my case would be put to a Peer Review Board for further discussion. She congratulated me on my weight loss, and told me to stick with the lifestyle changes – meaning caffeine, alcohol and painkillers were still off-limits. She then asked me how I was getting on with the Sumatriptin, and I told her that while they worked for the first few migraines, they hadn’t been as useful the past few times I’d taken them. I was also getting through them pretty quickly – as she would only ever prescribe me 8 tablets, but I’d have finished them off in one week. She didn’t seem very keen to keep me on them, and said she wouldn’t be writing me another prescription of Sumatriptin.
I asked her what I could do for the pain in the meantime, seeing as I’m not allowed to take painkillers. At the time of the appointment, I’d had a headache non-stop for 12 days, and it was becoming unbearable. Rather than tell me to just get on with it, which I thought she might have to do seeing as the Sumatriptin wasn’t working, she told me about a type of medication called Amitriptyline. When prescribed in large doses, Amitriptyline is an antidepressant – however it’s been proven to help prevent headaches and migraines when a small dose is taken daily. I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical. I didn’t believe a 10mg tablet could stop the headaches, when 500mg painkillers hadn’t in the past* . She handed me a month’s worth, and told me to come back once I’d run out.
Amitriptyline has to be taken at night, because it makes you drowsy, so I took one that night and hoped I’d wake up with no pain – though I wasn’t feeling optimistic. Within half an hour, I was flat out – and din’t wake up again until 10am the next day. For the first time in months, I slept though the night; and once I’d got over the shock of that, I realised I didn’t have a headache. The affect of being pain free was instant. My mood changed, and I spent the day cheerful and excited to go to work. By day three I had my appetite back and I was happier than I had been in months. My energy levels were back up, and I was enjoying work again – which was the most important thing for me. I really enjoy my job, but the headaches had been making me moody, resentful and frankly, I was a bit rubbish backstage. It’s hard to be useful while you have to hold your head constantly. Suddenly, I was productive and efficient again!
Amitriptyline does have some odd side effects, though. I’m finding it incredibly difficult to get up of a morning, which isn’t like me. Even when I had migraines I was waking up early, I just didn’t get out of bed. Now I’m sleeping through alarms and not waking up until half nine and the earliest. I can get quite dizzy at times, but not enough for it to be an issue. I have constant dry mouth, but that isn’t really a problem because it just makes me drink more water! I drink a decent amount of water anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to stay more hydrated!
I’ve now used up my first month’s supply, so the headaches are slowly but surely coming back. I’m waiting for doctor to ring me with some more test results, and if they are all okay I can stay on Amitriptyline. Even with the headaches creeping back, I find they’re not as strong as they had been, and they aren’t as lasting. Also, they are much more easy to tolerate now I know there is a solution – rather than in the past when I couldn’t see how I’d ever be free of them.
So, now I can look at a screen again without triggering shooting pains in my face, I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone’s blog!