Saturday, September 28, 2013


Well, the last time we spoke, I'd just made a big med switch and wasn't feeling well.

That was due to a few things, not least of which was that I was in the beginning stages of a pretty epic case of the flu.


Or whatever the hell that was. I wasn't very congested, actually. Extremely light, which is weird for me, but super, super achy and exhausted for days, and the worst migraine I've had in a while that just wouldn't let up. So that sucked.

That, paired with all the new meds, made for a pretty awful week.

But then I rallied as much as I could and went to Park City, Utah for the weekend to celebrate with my sisters and a few friends in honor of my youngest sister's upcoming wedding, and that was wonderful.

Everyone was really mellow and lovely and well-matched-- there were eight of us, and we basically spent the entire weekend in one giant conversation, all together. We were all on the same wavelength. What a fantastic group of people. I love every one of them!

So now I'm back, and I'm continuing with these meds, and they continue to make me tired and slow, but at the same time, I notice little bursts of... something different.

It's hard to explain. I still feel a bit lighter than I did on the Wellbutrin, and I think it was the right choice to move away from that. But I do think I still have a lot of anxiety, and I am aware of it now-- I think it's of the free-form variety, not the drug-induced variety at this point-- and now that I know what it feels like I'm attuned to its presence in my body and it's bothering me.

I am becoming aware of precisely where the imbalances are. This doesn't sit well with me at all.

But anyway, back to the meds. Since I started both at once (Cymbalta and Topomax), it's hard to know what is causing what. I mean, obviously these drugs have different effects, but many of the side effects overlap and I can't tell which ones come from where.

I am up to the full dose now on both drugs. 100mg of Topomax and 60mg of Cymbalta. The migraines have leveled out to the point of disappearing in their typical form, which sounds amazing, but I do have some kind of annoying headache/nausea something most days, it's just at a very, very low level. A very low, nagging ache.

It's not quite classifiable as migraine pain. It's different/ I haven't really had anything like it before. It's clearly part of this whole thing, and it's still annoying, but it's miles better than what was happening before, so I'm just observing it and seeing what it does next.

Before I move on, I'm just going to reiterate what I said a few sentences ago: my migraines have all but disappeared. 

Like, I got a new prescription of migraine meds a week and a half ago and I haven't even opened it yet.

Sure, there's an asterisk (or seven), but this is progress, people! We're figuring this out. And figuring it out without a migraine is a LOT more fun than figuring it out with one, I will tell you that for sure!

Something else I've noticed is that my back feels better. Like, a LOT better. Cymbalta is supposed to help with that, and by god, it DOES. Who knew?!

Another thing: I lose my balance occasionally (that culprit I know: Topomax). Nothing major. Mostly I just over-balance when I bend over or try to stand on one foot or something. There was one memorable one-footed sideways shimmy in the Salt Lake City International Airport that I'm pretty sure made me look like a drunk in front of a room full of disgruntled passengers waiting on delayed flights, but they were feeling bitter and judgmental anyway so there wasn't much I could do about that.

There are some other things going on, too. I think I'll switch to bullet points now, rather than explain everything individually.

So, in the pro column:

  • Back feeling better!
  • Feeling lighter!
  • Less anxiety!
  • Better sleep!
  • Lighter appetite!
  • Losing weight (4 lbs so far)!
  • Feeling more motivated!
And in the con column:
  • Incredibly tired!
  • Cottonmouth!
  • Terrible diarrhea (sorry, but it had to be said. This is real life, people)!
  • Carbonated drinks taste gross (an incredibly bizarre side effect of Topomax)!
  • Sometimes shaky!
  • Lose my balance (which is a little bit funny but still)!
  • Still with the mild headaches!
  • Still with the anxiety!
  • Still not motivated enough!
  • Still not enough energy!

Overall, I'd say I'm riding at a C+. Those pros are really good. But the cons are nothing to sneeze at, either. I've only just reached full dosage, and I'll give it 3 months total (unless my doc recommends longer) before I make a decision to try something else or not.

Another plan I had was to see the psychologist at the Northern California Headache Clinic to learn the  bio-feedback technique (it takes 5-7 sessions to learn it), and then I can be a free agent as far as the medical side, and try to find a doctor closer to me with whom I have better chemistry, and who I feel takes my whole situation more into account when prescribing my medication.

The doc at this clinic was  very good, don't get me wrong, it's just really, really far away and I don't have the freedom to get to know him really well, and I want someone who is more on the cutting edge of PTSD science as well if I'm going to be working with them. There are so many great doctors in my area, there's got to be someone who's working with both PTSD patients and migraine patients. 

I will find that doctor.

I'm realizing that anxiety is playing a MUCH bigger role here than I'd realized, and I need to address that more  directly than I have. And I've been so dissociated from my body that I'm only now learning what all of these things feel like. Who knows what else I'll discover?

So, that's what's happening. I have to admit, it's terrifying to be doing this while trying to raise two small children. I don't like feeling medicated. Even though I've taken anti-depressants before, I've never felt medicated before, like I do now. I feel it all the  time, and it's disheartening and exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes I just want to sleep until this phase has passed, and wake up healthy and alert and ready to bounce into the next one.

I'm too tired to be this tired!

But I am unbelievably fortunate to be able to do it now-- I don't forget for a moment that I have unthinkably amazing resources and support and time to do this work at this point in my life, and as hard as it is, it's also most important to do it now. 

Those girls and my dear, heroic husband are the reason.

So I will keep going. And I'll figure it out. And if I'm a little muddled and sleepy and stumbly in the meantime, well.

In the long run, is that such a bad price to pay?

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