To its credit, our local hospital did nothing to make any future visit, for any reason, an attractive prospect. Nothing. Not even cheerful Nurse Beau. (Why have women abandoned the RN track? Come back! We need you! We miss you!) But just 10 days after my first visit for something else, I was back, this time with a migraine that blew off Imitrex and Maxalt, and was in its third hour of high throb. I had no choice.
I took a seven-year-old promethazine, souvenir of my first incapacitating migraine, to stay the nausea. Vomiting is an especially bad thing with Addison’s disease. It’s an ER Pronto thing. I called my doctor first but was told I would need to go to the hospital and get stabilized before he could see me. I didn’t want to, but afterward I realized it was necessary. For one thing, my doctor doesn’t have injectables in the office. Too many regs.
I called my husband (it’s amazing what I can accomplish while virtually incapacitated, but I deal with a lot of pain and the override effect somehow takes over). I knew he was scheduled to interview a witness within minutes. I wanted to let him know I was going to call for an ambulance. He aborted the interview and came home for me. On the way to the hospital, I called our pastor to ask if he could meet my husband at the hospital and wait with him. I had no plans for consciousness. He came. I wished I’d combed my hair.
As it turned out, I was burdened with consciousness for more than three hours, but a lot of that was my fault. I misunderstood things and persisted in refusing narcotics. Looking back, I can only see the stupid irony of my anti-narcotic compunctions when I was ready to be euthanized. But such hours are seldom our finest.
This time I drew Nurse Kyle, Boy Wunderklutz. I am not ungrateful for his help, but he is a klutz. He gave me an injection of pain medication combined with an anti-nausea drug. That went ok, though I would have preferred to expose my thigh to a female nurse. I know. More stupid compunctions. Besides…but we won’t go there. The doctor also ordered an IV of fluid and electrolytes. Nurse Kyle, affable jock that he is, lacks the eye-touch combination that gives one the ability to install an IV properly. What Nurse Kyle lacked in dexterity, he made up for with persistence, until I sported three bruised holes in my wrist. He did understand a few magic words: Stop. Sue. Battery. Withdraw consent. He rerouted his mission to a vein he could actually see, and I awoke two hours later without a headache and a little goofy.
From there, we visited my doctor, who is apparently trying to get his mind around this new interposing variable, trigeminal neuralgia. My husband and I have been researching it on our own, and have learned that I actually have atypical TN, which has a migraine adjunct.
My doctor really is a comprehensive thinker, but he hates this disease. “So which is the chicken and which is the egg?” he said, meaning, is TN causing the migraines, or are the migraines exacerbating the other TN symptoms—the shooting pains in my ears and teeth, and the persistent gnawing scalp pain. “It’s a feedback loop, I think,” I said. “But what they gave me at the hospital for the migraine is indicated for TN as well.” Yeah, and it’s on Schedule 2. He gave me the required handwritten prescription for the pill version of the injection I had received.
I feel protected, prepared, and a little afraid. I saw a new look in my doctor’s eyes. I hadn’t seen this look before. It made me uneasy. He looked perplexed.