Thursday, June 20, 2013

No Baseline --- Am I sick? Is this normal? or Do I have lyme disease???

Another bleary-eyed day

Lately I've been feeling unfocused, fatigued, sleepy, and in some degree of head/ neck pain every day. Now if there's a good side to this .... I am not in extreme pain, but I am essentially non-functional.  Oh I can do the basic stuff even and including cooking dinner, but that's about as high level a task as I can handle right now.

the blues

In Feb., I had pneumonia, and it took me, I think, at least 2 or 3 weeks to figure out that I was in fact sick.  I came back from Mexico almost 2 weeks ago and I was convinced I had picked up an intestinal bug due to a variety of symptoms.  A visit to the doctor yielded a script for Cipro plus a nice little kit for a stool sample.  I took the Cipro, finished the prescription only to find out I wasn't, in fact, "sick."  Lab findings were negative.

What's normal?

The point here is that at least for me, it is often very difficult to differentiate symptoms of chronic daily headache or chronic migraine, prodrome, postdrome, etc. from hundreds of other possibilities.  I have had this very chronic problem so long, I have lost my healthy baseline.  Is this just normal fatigue?  After all, I'm 66 years old.  Can I just not think or motivate myself to "move" anymore because I'm either heading into a headache or getting over one?  Am I just unaccustomed to the heat (Mexico)?  Am I depressed?  Do I have something else wrong with me?  How would I know?

How would I know?

Here's my own personal favorite, "God! You just must be lazy"  What is wrong with you?  Just get over it and get a hump on it."  Subscribing to the "just get on with it" approach today, I made it through a one hour English tutoring session with my Pakistani student in spite of nausea and a band of pain across my nose and eyes, came home, shot up (injected DHE), and then went swimming at the local pool and stopped by to pick up a summer shorty wetsuit at REI before heading home to write this column.  I don't have a headache but I'm still drowsy and stupid.  Who knows what dinner will actually be - or when.  My standards have slipped in the last few months, years.

Sorting it all out

This morning my husband, who is thinking more clearly than I am right now, looked up one of my preventative meds on the web and pointed out that a cardinal side effect is drowsiness.  There it is:
Dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Now, I carefully read about the side effects of every new medication I take, but this somehow escaped me, or (certainly possible), I forgot. 

Also, we change.  I tolerated one medication for quite a while, went off of it and then back on a year or two later, only to discover intolerable side effects that didn't occur the first time around.  
Sometimes waiting a week or two is a good option.  Patterns of symptoms become more apparent or the malaise lifts and you just begin to feel a little better.  Some piece of peace re-enters your soul.  But sometimes, this sort of symptom suck is like an undertow, and you can find yourself at sea without your surfboard.

Then it's time for some outside input:  a walk in the park, a swim in the lake, a trip to the south shore of Lake Winna-Bango or even a visit to your, hopefully, trusted headache specialist.


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