Tag Archives: headaches

Doctors Appointment

lice stomach flu

Today, I took my first “half-day” off from work since the Spring, (and those days were time off to grieve mom and my sister-in-law.)  It is always so much work to take a day off.  Sub plans and preparation take so much time that it isn’t even worth it most of the time.  I came home from school and gave Emmy Lou a quick walk and sat down in front of the television with my lunch.  It was so quiet and peaceful in the house.  The reason for my half day was because I had a doctor’s appointment that  I could not reschedule for after school.  Just a “well-visit” as they were called for my kids.  A regular check up.

I haven’t been to the doctor since July. Before that July appointment, I had been suffering from daily headaches for 8 months and had gone to see a new doctor.  At that point, I already had two MRIs, seen several specialists and a neurologists but nothing had worked.  This new doctor and I discussed how I had been managing the headaches.  I had already tried all sorts of medications and natural remedies.  I went gluten free for a short time,  I had seen a chiropractor several times, but that only seemed to work short term, and once I left, the headaches returned.

At her suggestion, I stopped taking ALL pain medications for a trial basis of six weeks.  I also added magnesium to my already hefty vitamin and supplement regimen.  I stopped taking the birth control pill that I had been on. Something worked!!  I keep knocking on wood when I tell people!  I am now down to four or five headaches a month compared to the ones I had been having daily for so long.  I am like a different person.

In the process of finding this new doctor, I had given up on several others who had not been able to help me.  I was frustrated and needed answers.  In doing so, I needed to find a new endocrinologist as well.  I had been seeing one for about 8 years to monitor my thyroid and cholesterol.  I have been off of cholesterol medications for nearly a year now and have been able to keep it under control with (mostly) healthy eating.  My mom had several heart attacks before she died and my dad and brother have both had a quadruple bypass.  My brother was only 37 when he had his!  I try to keep on top of it because of that because genetics are not on my side!!

For now, rather than seeing several different doctors, I am going to stick with the one new one.  If she feels that I need to go back to a specialist, then of course I will, but she was so much help to me with my headaches, I am going to stick with her and she and I will monitor everything.  Since the doctors were all working independently of one another, there were too many inconsistencies and finding a practice where all of the doctors work with one another is going to work best for me.

We ended the checkup/conversation with a flu shot and a chat about this stomach bug that is going around.  I told her my story about the “throw up germ” in our school.  Her own children have the same thing going around their school but unfortunately, their school also has reported cases of…the always dreaded… LICE.  It made me ask her the question that a parent just asked me, “What is worse?  Lice or the stomach virus?”  I for one pick the stomach bug.  Quick, (in most cases) and cleanable.  Those little nits and bugs just hang on…and on…and on…..it makes me itch just to think about it!!

Good Bye 2013 – I can’t say I’m sad to see it end.

life knocked me down

2013 is coming to an end and I cannot say that I am sad for it to be it over.  This was the toughest year of my life and I am very glad that it is complete.  My year began with a phone call from DJ on the morning of January 1st.  He had stayed at my parent’s house for New Years Eve.  During the night, my mom had been rushed to the emergency room with a heart attack.  Fortunately, it was mild, but with all of her other health conditions, she stayed there for a few days until the felt she was well enough to go home.

That same day, I wound up with a migraine.  I have suffered from them for years but little did I know that this headache and many more, would last me EIGHT months. MRI’s, numerous specialists and appointments, various medications did not help but finally, in August, a new doctor suggested a few things to try, and perhaps it was one – or the combination of several, but I went from having five or six headaches a week, to only two or three a month.  This is huge for me and I am so grateful for each day that I wake up headache free. In January and February, my blog focused mainly on kindness and sharing stories that spread kindness.  That was the original intent of my blog.

Then, March came along and my life was changed forever.  On March 8th, my mom, who was suffering from COPD for years, stopped breathing on her way to my grandmother’s house.  It was just a routine 10 minute drive.  They were actually headed to Florida the next day, so this was totally unexpected.  By the time my dad reached the hospital, she had been without oxygen for too long.  She was kept alive on life support for a week but we made the decision as a family to take her off of it on Friday, March 15th . That entire week, I wrote about nothing but my mom.  My blog took a total turn from just writing about kindness, yet was being read by hundreds of people everyday.  My mom had touched the lives of so many people and I have been told that this blog helped them understand what our family was dealing with and getting us all through the hardest time of our lives. Writing her eulogy and then reading it at her funeral, was so hard but I needed to do it and that church was so filled with people that loved her and loved us, it helped begin the healing process for me. Throughout the rest of the month, my entire blog focused on mom and her friends and our first holidays, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter without her.

April arrived.  It has always been one of my favorite months.  Spring had sprung and we had all begun to adjust to mom not being around and then we had the devastating news of my sister-in-law Francine.  What a shock to our family.  Two deaths in our family in less than a month.  She was only 31 and she and my brother Tim had just found out that she was pregnant with twins.   Once again, my blog provided an outlet, for me to write it and for others to read it and try to comprehend what our family was going through.  The day I wrote Francine’s story, over 1000 people saw it.  Incredible to me that so many people were empathizing with our family.   This led to even more blogs about family and coping with death.  Tim had asked me if I’d also do a eulogy for her and of course I said yes.

Although I did not know him well, death touched our family again when my brother-in-law’s father passed away at the end of April.  Bad things happen in 3s. My father could not believe how unfair this year was

I turned 43 in May and although it was not quite the same without mom around, my family and friends did so much to help make is a special one for me.  Our first mothers day without mom was low key and we made it through without too many tears.  All those “firsts” came and went without mom and Francine, birthdays, holidays, Christmas… but we got through them with the support of our family and friends.  Thank God for all of them because without them, I don’t know where we’d be today.

Things really did settle down for us once Summer arrived but then, on Labor Day, my sister’s birthday, she wound up in the hospital for emergency surgery to have her gall bladder removed.  Fortunately that was routine and after a little less than a week, she was home recovering.

I will admit that there were some positive things that happened this year… There is now a beautiful bench dedicated to my mom in the park given by my class and The Kiwanis club.  Dave and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. On October 18th, NJ passed the marriage equality law. giving everyone the freedom to marry and to me, that is a huge step in the right direction.  Because of that, we were able to attend the wedding of two friends Eddie and Todd.

I surprised myself by sticking to TWO New Years Resolutions this year.  I did the 52 week money challenge AND wrote my blog everyday this year.  I am trying to find the positive in this year.  My two boys are healthy and happy and enjoying school.  I love my job and look forward to going to work everyday.  Dave got some licenses he needs to move ahead in his career in the mortgage business.  Now, if he could drum up some business for 2014, that will be a huge step in the right direction!So here’s to the end of 2013 – and a positive outlook to the future.  As we move forward, may 2014 bring you and your families happiness and good health!

Natural Remedies?


Many of you have been asking me about my headaches.  Unfortunately, I am still getting them nearly everyday.  On Monday, I decided to see a new doctor and I am so thankful I did because she was so helpful and had so many suggestions for me.  She sat with me and took the time to really learn about me and what we think might be causing the headaches.  After ruling out the “big things”, since I have had two MRI’s already, we discussed how I have been managing them.  I told her about the different medications other doctors have prescribed.  We discussed how I went to a chiropractor, but that only seemed to work short term, and once I left, the headaches returned.  I mentioned how I have been taking Excedrin or Naproxen nearly everyday.   She asked me if I knew anything about “Rebound Headaches”.  I did not so she told me about them.  This is what I found on Webmd.com:

While over-the-counter pain-relievers are helpful in improving headache pain, they must be taken with caution because they could actually make your headache worse if they aren’t taken correctly. The overuse or misuse of pain relievers — exceeding labeling instructions (such as taking the drug three or more days per week) or not following your doctor’s advice — can cause you to “rebound” into another headache.

When the pain medication wears off, you may experience a withdrawal reaction, prompting you to take more medication, which only leads to another headache and the desire to take more medication. And so the cycle continues until you start to suffer from chronic daily headaches with more severe headache pain and more frequent headaches.

Pain reliever overuse appears to interfere with the brain centers that regulate the flow of pain messages to the nerves, worsening headache pain.

This rebound syndrome is especially dangerous if your medication contains caffeine, which is often included in many pain relievers to speed up the action of the other ingredients. While it can be beneficial, caffeine in medications, combined with consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks or chocolate) from other sources, makes you more vulnerable to a rebound headache.

I think we might be on to something…

Now comes the hard part.  She told me that this would be difficult but since there are still about five weeks until I return to teaching, it is the perfect time to try it.  She wants me to go completely medicine free for the headaches for four to six weeks!  I must have looked at her like she was insane but she stopped and sat down and gave me some other options to try.

I have always taken a lot of vitamins and supplements so first she looked over my list and told me that they were all fine and none should be causing the headaches. She told me to add magnesium and butterbur to my vitamin regimen.  Apparently, I learned that deficiencies in magnesium may cause migraines.  Butterbur, (which I had never even heard of), has been known to give some relief to headache sufferers.   Then she began telling me about essential oils.  Peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender have all shown to give relief when rubbed on pressure points such as the temple and on the forehead.

I left her office and went to the pharmacy immediately.  They did not carry butterbur.  They had the magnesium though, so I have been taking that since Monday.  I was able to find butterbur and the oils today.

So it has been three days.  Three days with a headache.  NOT constant.  They never are but I have not taken any medication for them.  Today I rubbed the oils on my forehead and temples and maybe it is all in my head, (pun intended), and I did feel some relief.  I am going to see how long I can go without taking any medication.  Maybe I can wipe out whatever these out of my system for good.  To know that I might be able to do it in a more natural way will be great too.  Fingers crossed that this is finally the solution!

Headache Free – will it last?


Today was one of the first days that I was headache free all day, (well mostly all day), a few twinges here and there, but honestly, after the whoppers of headaches I have been having, I felt like a different person today.  I was able to focus completely all day without the distraction of these headaches.  I haven’t been able to give my full effort in kickboxing, though I have continued to go, but tonight, I did all of it.  I forgot how good I could actually feel – that is how long it has been.  This whole weekend I just spent with my roommates, was an enormous amount of fun, but throughout it all, I had a headache.  They were of various degrees of pain, but the entire time it was there.  It made me feel like I wasn’t able to enjoy the time spent with them as much as possible, and it completely frustrated me.  They knew – and were completely sympathetic about it, (as is everyone I know).  Lots of tips and advice and come from everywhere and I appreciate all of it.

Perhaps today is a fluke…or…perhaps it is a new beginning to my old way of life.  Maybe tomorrow, I will go back to having a headache, but knowing how good I feel today, is going to make me put more of an effort in figuring out what is wrong.  The stress and exhaustion that has come from them has really put a damper on my life.  It has even made me a bit depressed and today made me snap out of my slump and feel energized!  I am hoping for a lot more days like today and getting back to my old self!


pain headache

I am still suffering from these headaches that I have been getting nearly everyday since January 1st.  I have been to my GP doctor, my OBGYN, a chiropractor, and most recently a neurologist. Tomorrow, I hope to get some answers.  I will get my second MRI in two months.  The first was of my brain.  This one is of my cervical spine.  I have been prescribed so many different medications, I am beginning to feel like a lab rat!!  I am not against taking medicines at all!  I just wish we could find one that would work.

I find that the hardest part of having them, is that I don’t like to let on to others when I am feeling weak, or sick.  Why burden them with my aches and pains?!?!    This has gotten to an unbearable level though.  Not necessarily the pain of them, but the frequency and duration.  I have not taken anytime off of work and I am trying to manage them as best as I can.  I am so grateful to everyone who has given me ideas and suggestions of what I could/should try, (and I don’t write that sarcastically).  Truly, I am.  I know that they are just trying to help.   I have been told to try acupuncture, (but needles in my head freak me out a bit), medical marijuana, (funny for a girl who has never even smoked a cigarette), a gluten free diet, and all sorts of natural and holistic remedies.

If they began after my mom and Francine dying, I’d totally blame it on stress, but these started three months before that.  I could probably say that I have had about ten days that were headache free since this all began.  They all differ in severity and in location, though most recently they have been focused around the back of my head near my spine, hence the reason for this new MRI.

So tomorrow, I will get up early and head over to get this done.  The sooner I do it, the sooner I hope to get some answers.  Tonight’s headache was a rough one.  Hoping to get some relief from one of my new meds, and then sleep this one off.  I don’t write this to ask for sympathy or pity.  I just know that I have not been quite myself lately and there is a reason for it.  The tiredness, the aches and pains, if I can get rid of all of those, I will feel like I can begin to be like my old self again.

Nonsense, or another coincidence?

dr seuss nonsense

Today, I HAVE to continue my blog on coincidences.  In February, I wrote one of my blogs about finding pennies, https://aprojectforkindness.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/find-a-penny-pick-it-up/

In that blog, I had written that I had been told, that because it reads, “In God we trust,”  that when we find one, we should count our blessings from God, and that we should trust that God has placed it in our way for a reason, therefore thanking him for our blessings at that moment! I have been finding lots of pennies since my mom died, (but I always find them – I think I am just noticing them more).  Several people have told me that finding pennies are signs from our loved ones.  All superstitions, I know, but today my strange coincidences continued.

Many of you know that I have been suffering from headaches for about five months now.  After several doctors, an MRI, different medications and visits to a chiropractor, I finally saw a neurologist today.  To get to her office, I had to pass the cemetery  where my mom and Francine are buried.  As I drove by, I decided that I would stop there on my way home to “visit” with them, so I said out loud as I passed by, “See you later mom”.  I got to the doctor’s office and sat down in a chair to wait to be called on.  The receptionist called my name and I went up to do the usual paperwork for a first time patient.  I went back to my seat, and lying there right in the middle of the chair, was a penny.  I smiled, thought of mom, gave it a little rub and put it into my pocket.

I went in to the doctors office, and as she entered the room, I knew that I had met her somewhere before – I just could not place where.  I even said to her, “I think I know you from somewhere”, but neither of us could place where, and I don’t think she recognized me…yet.  My check up was going on routinely and we began talking about family history.  I had already told her about my mom and Francine passing away, (not the details), but just because I wanted her to know that these were not stress headaches due to them dying.  They started months before that.  I mentioned my mother’s heart history and suddenly she asked me what my  mom’s name was.  I told her and she asked if she had been a patient at St. Barnabas a few years ago on “2300”, (that was a floor on the hospital she had been on that time).  I said yes, and we realized that must of been why I recognized her.  We continued going over family history when all of a sudden, it hit me!!  This doctor was the woman who was dealing with Francine’s brain injury just a few weeks ago.  She and I had been talking several times during that day about the severity of her brain injury.  We both realized now that we did indeed “know” each other.  She realized who I was and she asked about our family and how we were all doing.  She was concerned for my brother, and expressed her sympathy.  I told her about our close knit family and how we were all there for each other and she said she could tell that from the way we all were at the hospital.

I did not leave  with any new answers for my headaches, but I will have another MRI, this time of my cervical spine, and a new medication to try.  I am hopeful, and I feeling quite positive after this visit.  Was it the penny?  Did it just give me that feeling that I needed to walk out of there with a positive attitude?  I don’t know, but I do know that the penny wasn’t from my  mom this time, but from Francine.  As I walked out of the office building, I actually burst into tears.  So many emotions were filling me.

Oh!!!  And did I did not even mention, that as I walked into the building, there was a lot of construction going on.  A new cement sidewalk had just been laid and in the base of it someone had carved into it, “DREW”.  The name of my son, who has had numerous visits to different neurologists over the last year due to his concussions – another coincidence?!?!?!  Perhaps, but for me I am taking it as another positive sign, knowing that we are going to get to the bottom of this and have an answer and some relief soon!

drew sidewalk1

A Roller Coaster Ride

 roller coaster

There are so many things that can happen in our lives, sometimes it seems like it is hard to have a positive outlook in life.  With all of the ups and downs and sharp turns that life brings our way, sometimes it seems like I am on an emotional roller coaster.   One month of sadness, preceded by three months of a crazy headache that just would not go away, has made this year the wildest ride ever.  I am now managing the headache and I am finding ways to manage the sadness but still, I am worried.

I worry for my brother Tim, a young widow now.  I worry for my dad, who is trying to be strong for Tim, yet hasn’t had time to grieve for himself.  I worry for my kids, who were so close to both my mom and Francine.  I worry for Francine’s mom and for her two best friends who loved her so much and seem so sad without her.  I imagine this is the steep hill of the ride – the one that climbs up and up and up, until it reaches its peak before falling at full speed down the other side. The promising part of falling, is knowing that eventually you will reach the bottom and plateau.

Going back to work has been the plateau on my ride.  The flat, level, balanced part of the ride that comes after the big hill with loops, twists and turns.  There is so much love at my school.  I am getting it from the families, from my staff, from my students.  I know that my father and brother are finding the same thing as they have gotten back to work.  The love is genuine and confirms that fact that we are not alone on this wild ride.