Injected: Nerve Block

Yesterday I had what would be my 3rd occipital nerve block. It sounds big and scary, and it really isn’t, but kind of is. Thanks to that I’m supposed to have a couple months of lessened migraine pain. Some people get these and their migraines disappear. As usual, I am not one of those lucky people.

If you’re wondering exactly what happens, because maybe you have migraines, or a general curiosity about medical procedures here you go.

My wife came home and woke me up at noon. I was already in excruciating pain, and would have cancelled the appointment if it didn’t take 3 months for another one to be available with my neurologist. I ate the breakfast she made me and took all 20 of my pills (a mix of vitamins, supplements, and prescription meds). Next she found the clothes I asked for (sweat pants and a t shirt) and helped me dress. I ended up making us run late. I can only eat and dress so fast, and we had to be at the doctor at 1:30.

She dropped me off at the curb, and I hobbled up the steps, jealous of the three people with walkers I passed. I made it to the elevators where an infuriating comedy began of elevators arriving and people not letting me on, finally getting an elevator and the next person who arrived rerouted it, then ending up on the wrong floor again thanks to another person. By the time I reached the front desk I was a minute away from the 15 minute too late cut off (basically for any doc here if you’re more than 15 minutes late they cancel your appointment. Kind of like in college when you could leave if the professor didn’t show, only shitty).

My wife arrived a few minutes minutes later, when we both realized we had forgotten some important paperwork I needed the doctor to sign. After sitting while my wife dealt with giving our new insurance info, the copay, signing papers, I had the pleasure of children screaming around the lobby. Always pleasant during a migraine!

Finally we were lead back, my weight was taken (I gained 6 pounds, thanks steroids!) and blood pressure taken. I signed a form asking them to bill my insurance instead of paying the almost $400 charge up front. This part is kind of important. Most insurance does not cover nerve blocks for migraines. While it is a very common procedure, apparently “there is not enough research to prove it is medically effective or necessary”. So prepare to have this denied by your insurance, and you and your doc can attempt to battle it out with them.

Finally my neurologist showed up, a pretty awesome doc. He’s the 5th neurologist I’very seen since my migraines started 6 years ago, and the only one that listens to me and offers me treatment options beyond a handful of pills. While he prepped all the syringes he would need, I talked to him about other treatment options of this doesn’t work, or doesn’t work enough. An SPG block, DHE infusions, and the hated botox were all mentioned. Plans were made. I requested a small table to rest my head on for the first part of the injections, and one was brought in.

Beware, things get a big gross and graphic from here.

First, I tilted my head forward, leaning it on my arms on the table. He felt around my scalp for the places he wanted to inject. The first time this was done was in the back center of my skull. This time it would be just a few inches off the center on each side, starting with my left. The needle is inserted, which hurts, a lot. But the solution of lidocaine and steroid hurts more. I breathed through the pain, slowly counting each breath in and out. Now, I’m not sure if the needle is then reinserted into a different direction of the nerve in the same spot, or just rotated while it’s still in there. It feels like it’s rotated, pushed in further, and possibly bent, then more solution is injected.

When the right side was done, trigger points were started. For me, thesp injections are the same solution, injected into areas on my neck and shoulders that cause my migraines to be worse. Some people get them in other spots on their scalp. For my trigger points I had 2 at the base of my skull, three on each side of my neck, and 2 on each side of my shoulders, an area that loves to tense up and make my migraines so much worse.

Now, this is all painful. On a pain scale I would give just that part I described about a 6, maybe 7. The next part, that gets an 8.5, sometimes a 9. I tear up during it, if that says anything.

Next, there are trigger points in my eyebrows and temples. The brows are by far the worst. I had to sit back in the chair while it is adjusted so the doctor can see properly (almost like a dentists chair). Two injections are done in each brow. The needle has to pass through your skin, which feels like it takes forever and the solution feels like a hive of wasps is assaulting your brow. Then it’s repeated on the next brow. I spent the rest of the day with huge dried blobs of blood in my white blonde brows. Not a good look. The two injections to the temples are next, and while painful, are almost a relief compared to the brows.

Once all the blood is wiped off your face, scalp, neck, and shoulders, you’re all done! My head felt numb for the rest of the day. About an hour before bed my had and neck began to ache, which I applied an ice pack to while watching Teen Wolf.

Today, all of the injection sites are swollen and tender. Because of this I have a fairly bad migraine, and woke up much earlier than usual, unable to find a comfortable resting position for my head. I’very taken my migraine meds, NSAID’s, and pain meds. I’m still in bed, fatigued and trying not to move. If this is anything like the last 2 times, in less than a week my migraines will be at a constant lower pain, and I might go 2 whole months without a migraine that sends me to the ER. Worth it.


Side effects may include

I wish I had my own pain scale. It would start at 10 then go from there. Assuming my pain is lower is frustrating. Trying  to explain to anyone, this includes any medical professional that I ALWAYS have a migraine is difficult. Most people can’t comprehend it so it gets sort of ignored. Or sometimes I’m told I’m lying. Because this is something to lie about. Excruciating pain in my head, neck, and stomach, please, give me your attention. You can tell I want attention by how often I hide in my bedroom in the dark not interacting with anyone. I can’t even blog regularly, or use social media, or text. I love all this extra attention  (sarcasm if you can’t tell).

Why am I posting at 3:30 am? At 8:30 last night Dianne went to take a shower so I laid down with every light source off to try to help my head a little. It was finally dark outside and barely starting to cool off (our house doesn’t seem to have insulation or any seals around its doors and windows). I laid down hoping my migraine would calm down and ended up falling asleep somehow. Of course this means I must wake up at 2am, instead of sleeping like a normal person till at least dawn (which is around 4:30am). On the upside if I end up not being able to sleep then I will hopefully be able to fall asleep for my sleep study that is tonight at 8pm.

My body refuses to cooperate to let me sleep as well. My head is doing is usual pa in that feels like my brain rattling around in my skull, my neck hurts, my hips/lower back/right leg are a tangle of screaming pain. Plus my stomach assures me it needs to be evacuated. Who lives like this? Surely there should be some doctors or something that would look at this list and say “that is terrible, let me help!” Or at least a medicine that does that. Currently I have around 6 medications for these things. My favourite things about these medications is that most of them can’t be taken more than once or twice a week. The others are the side effects. Listed for fun:

Nausea medication causes headaches

Migraine medications cause vomiting, and rebound migraines

Narcotic pain medication causes severe itchiness, migraines, and vomiting

NSAID pain medication causes rebound migraines

Nearly all meds cause drowsiness

Nausea meds make me extra sensitive to sunlight.

Sleep medication causes migraines, vertigo, memory loss

Fibromyalgia medication causes panic attacks, vomiting, headaches, muscle pain (really it sounds like it causes fibromyalgia)

Most of these medications should not be taken together.

Good luck to my organs. Most of them are being damaged by medications that allow me even the most basic functionality. Well, twice a week anyway.


unbreakable things

I broke a plate today. It’s one of those Corelle ones that’s supposed to be unbreakable unless you have tile floors, which of course we do. It shattered through the kitchen and living room, and pieces bounced so far they made it into clean dishes on the kitchen counter. Despite my feeble attempt at sweeping I’ll likely find more shards for the next few months, especially as we begin packing to move.

Right, we’re moving in a few or so months

The plate broke because some part of my body landed on it as I attempted to reach for a bowl on a shelf. In attempting to stop the plate from sticking to my bare skin, I tried to hold it in place. Unfortunately my arm is so weak and shaky I ended up watching in what I’m sure was slow motion as my hand skidded the plate to the floor. At least the sound made the cats clear the living room. It also woke the dogs.

That was at 1pm yesterday. It’s now 3am and I’m laying in bed in my 34 year old body that broke on me. I’ve attempted to wrangle pillows, a heating pad (for that arm,neck, shoulder area) and a heating blanket (for the equally sore legs and feet) into some position that will keep me comfortable for more than five minutes. I’m failing at this task.

(Restart heating pad, adjust pillows, adjust dogs, attempt to drink tea to soothe my always sore throat)

Six years ago this body was pretty good. It wasn’t as small as society and a few of my ex’s would have liked. I liked it, when I look at it now I still do. Inside it’s broken, like one of those vhs tapes that got eaten by the vcr because you watched it too many times. Now when you try it’s all messed up and all the tracking in the world won’t fix it. Maybe I used it too much, took it for granted. But who doesn’t do that, especially in their 20’s. There’s no way to know you will literally wake up one morning in severe pain that never stops. You’re not supposed to break when you’re 29. We’re not supposed to break at all.

(Adjust for pillows again)

Maybe the broken parts of me are scattered at different doctors offices, imaging centers, blood labs, emergency rooms, physical therapists…

I feel foggy now, and I must five in to pain meds. There’s always too much pain and not enough pain medication.