Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Medical Train Rarely Makes a Stop

So I'm back in Manila again. Jet-lagged out of my mind again. I had a great visit to America, a surreal visit too. I'll write more on that later, when the remainder of my thoughts catch up to the body that lost them somewhere over the pacific.

Rachel got married (to Howard, to be more specific - and he seems like a good guy), I got to catch up with good friends, and somewhere between the cheese and the good beer I managed to gain a few lbs. But that's not the reason I'm writing this.

When I touched down in Manila I figured I'd probably get a few things done while I'm here and head back to site Thursday or friday. One of those things on the list was to talk to my medical officer about getting new migraine medications - since my imigran hasn't been of great help. A part of me hates to complain about such things. That part of me has fallen into some sort of Learned Helplessness trap that feels these migraines are inevitable, that no medications will ever work particularly well, and that leaning against a wall for 4 hours, with my legs wobbling, my knees shaking, and my head screaming is just something I ought to resign myself to and take with dignity when it comes about.

Except there ARE effective pain meds out there. I know there are. They're just quite heavily controlled (or illegal) and thus haven't been made available to me. I've become determined that I will work this system, however long it takes, and eventually they will have to give me something that works. I'm sick to death of expensive, bullshit medications that often don't do anything for me when I take them. For $10 / pill you would think they could give you something that works half the time (though of course Peace Corps is shouldering that cost for the moment).

But I digress. The point is, among my goals was to talk to my medical officer about this, and today I did. She sent me to another Migraine dr, who changed my meds to something new, and put me back on a daily dose of Topamax.

Funny enough, I used to take Topamax. I didn't find that it helped much, and I stopped taking it after less than 4 months. I got scared about the severity of what I was putting in my body. Reading the label on my Topamax, it told me that if I were to suddenly stop taking the medicine, I would risk going into seizures. Now think about that for a second. Whatever you're putting in your body is so addicting that your body could actually go into seizures if you didn't keep taking it. Wouldn't YOU be terrified to read that on your headache medication?

Well that was cleared up by my doctor today. Evidently Topamax is an anti-seizure medication, and the label I read was assuming that the patient was ALREADY PRONE TO HAVING RANDOM SEIZURES. Sort of like those fast food cups that say "Caution: Beverage is extremely hot" on the outside, even when filled with ice cream. They just don't bother tailoring the instructions on the medication to the ailments of the patient anymore. This upsets me greatly - just another indication that we're all McPatients in the world of medical fast food - but I guess I won't take it out on the Topamax.

I'm still rambling away from the greater point of this entry is - jet lag and a personality prone to rambling are a bad combination. The greater point is that the doctor also decided I ought to have an MRI, which means I'll be staying here in Manila until Monday, Tuesday, or possibly later.

I'm slightly annoyed at the delay, but frankly I feel safer with every new test they give me. When I experience a bad migraine, it really feels all wrong - like some gear turning in my head must have cracked. It's nice to be told that nothing is wrong with me. I've had a CAT scan and I've had an EEG both test me as perfectly healthy, but that doesn't change that "broken" feeling a bad migraine gives me. So the more times I hear "your test results are perfectly normal", the better I feel. Here's hoping I hear that again soon.

Long days and pleasant nights all,

No comments: