By

Are These Pre-migraine (Prodrome) Symptoms?

Dizziness, tremor, hot flashes, fatigue, cold hands and feet, mental fogginess, nausea, increased pulse. I was excited to discover this cluster of symptoms and thought them to be warning signs, also called prodrome, that a migraine was coming on. The earlier a migraine is detected, the earlier it can be treated, thus increasing the likelihood it can be aborted altogether. At least a dozen times, I took a triptan when I recognized these symptoms coming on and avoided the migraine pain completely. I’d feel funky for an hour or two, then feel much better. Yay for triptans, or so I thought.

Grocery shopping one day, the symptoms hit and I didn’t think to take a triptan. The symptoms were so severe that my cart functioned as a walker. I felt awful when I got to the car and knew I should go home. But I really, really, really wanted to go to Goodwill.

I pushed through, risking worsening the migraine. I put on a hat, sunglasses and earplugs to get through the store and my decision-making abilities were severely curtailed. Still, an hour passed and on my way home I felt better than I did before I went to the thrift store. So much better that I spent the afternoon cooking and cleaning.

I began experimenting with not taking a triptan when the symptoms hit. They still lasted for an hour or two and then lifted. Exactly the same pattern as when I medicated for migraine.

Are these migraine symptoms at all or is something else causing these flushes of autonomic distress? My doctor speculates medication side effects and I’m going off my antidepressants to see if that’s the case. I have to wonder if they are part of some other disorder, maybe adrenal or autonomic. Any ideas?

By

Test Results Negative, New Neurologist Loses Interest

The neurologist I had such high hopes for lost all her shimmer in my follow-up appointment. The good news is I have no aneurysms, tumors or lesions and all my blood tests, except for one, came back fine. The bad news is the test results made me completely uninteresting to a neurologist who is primarily interested in autoimmune disorders.

Prolactin, Wikipedia and Google
The one concern in my blood test was an elevated level of prolactin, a pituitary hormone. The neurologist thought one of my medications could be the cause, so she turned to Google to check. Nothing came up until she came across the Wikipedia page that said Reglan could increase prolactin. I trust Wikipedia for Joanie Loves Chaci trivia, not for medical information.

She did look for further confirmation. Google turned up a six-page article on prolactin and the results included something on Reglan. After looking through all six pages, the neurologist didn’t see a mention of Reglan. She said, “I can’t find it, but Google says it’s in here, so Reglan is probably the cause.”

I actually agree, especially because I think the endocrinologist checked my prolactin levels in March. The neurologist and I also agreed that I should stop taking the drug and get another blood test in a month. She also mentioned that the endocrinologist should look for adrenal problems.

Lupus, Autoimmune Disorders and Fibromyalgia
Having hoped an autoimmune disorder was the reason I’m tired to the bone, I asked if fibromyalgia might be the cause. “Maybe, but we’re only looking at things we can do something about,” was her response.

Cyproheptadine
Cyproheptadine is an old antihistamine that has been used to treat migraine. The neurologist said she used it when she first started practicing 25 years ago, then quickly moved on to other meds. Now she’s come full circle and finds it pretty effective.

Great, but I’m not taking a drug without knowing anything else about it. I asked “What are the…” before she cut me off with “…the side effects for cyproheptadine? Nothing. You may have a dry mouth in the morning, but that’s it.” I know better than to believe a drug has only one side effect.

Researching the drug when I got home, and not relying on Wikipedia or Google search results for an answer, I discovered dry mouth is one of the biggest side effects. So are headaches and dizziness, my two main symptoms.

And, get this — cyproheptadine can affect pituitary-adrenal response lab results. I’m going off Reglan because it might affect pituitary lab results. I’m also supposed to have my endocrinologist check for pituitary and adrenal problems. But I’m prescribed a drug that can affect these very lab results?

Sinus Blockage
My left front sinus cavity has three pockets of fluid. It isn’t floating around, but walled off in lumps. I forgot to ask about treatment for that; she forgot to mention it. I guess an ENT is next?

Dismissal
I could feel her interest in me waning as the appointment went on. I became another migraine patient — one who is hard-to-treat at that. She’s willing to try the two best drugs in her arsenal (Topamax if cyproheptadine doesn’t work). She would probably continue to treat me if those drugs don’t work. I just don’t think she has any interest in doing so.

I’ve been fortunate with doctors. Other than one poorly regarded headache specialist, I have never felt this dismissed. It is like I started dating someone I thought would be a great match and was dumped with no explanation.

What’s Next
I’m discouraged. I hoped the lupus test would be positive. Not that I want to have lupus, but having a place to start would be nice.

I see the endocrinologist in June and will wait until that appointment before taking cyproheptadine. The drug might work and I want to try it. Just not at the expense of already questionable lab results. Then it is time to go through the list of -ologists I haven’t seen and make some appointments. I’ll also add an ENT to my list of doctors to check my sinuses.

I increased my magnesium to 200 mg last night. That is the only thing I’ve noticed a difference with, so I’m going to run with it. As long as I don’t get nauseated, I’m happy to push the dose. Still, I’m tired of treating myself.

I will probably go to an inpatient headache clinic this fall. Chronic daily headache patients often have excellent results at first, then return to the same levels of pain a few months later. A few months would be better than none at all.

I’ll get through this. I’ll look for more possibilities. I even believe I may find something soon. That doesn’t prevent the disappointment.