[Sober Living] Tripping On Sumatriptan

“The neurologist diagnosed me with migraines within 30 seconds of talking to me, without listening to all of my symptoms.[1]” Later on in the conversation with doctor-number-five, and the first doctor to actually listen to me and my headache symptoms, I received a recommendation to go see another neurologist because “that neurologist was not the right one for you.[2]” Apparently, they often act like that[2], so I should expect similarly mixed reactions during future neurology interactions…

This medication works decently well for migraines.

The only problem is that I so seldom half actual migraines, I would estimate less than 5 of the time, so when I’ve taken Sumatriptan to address other issues plaguing my head, the experience will be like I had just taken a placebo that I knew to be fake. I didn’t follow up with neurologist-number-one, which upset doctor-number-two, but doctor-number-two was only interested in prescribing me antidepressants and felt cheated on after finding out I went to a neurologist. My conversation with doctor-number-two concluded like a bad breakup: ‘get your headache treated by that neurologist of yours and I’ll see you next time.’ ‘OK, thanks, doc.’

I’m not overly cynical toward doctors because of my healthcare IT background.

I’m cynical of doctors because of experiences like this doctor I talked to when I last had bad headaches that told me “maybe you’re drinking too much water,[3]” without doing a urine or blood test or anything that could even help to diagnose a water toxicity-related issue. I’m also cynical because some doctors only want to see one part of the problem: nonissue [doctor-number-one], migraines [neurologist-number-one/doctor-number-two], anxiety/depression [doctor-number-three] and general fatigue [doctor-number-four].

If they can’t turn on a microscope, whatever, man.

That seems like an important life skill to have, however, I’d rather have the doctor that can give five minutes of troubleshooting time to figure out that their microscope is turned off than a doctor that’s not willing to give more than thirty seconds of troubleshooting time to figure out even the scope of a patient care issue.

I want to share this information because it’s important.

Doctors are like any other person. Sometimes, you meet someone that just reminds you of someone you hate, or maybe you don’t like their mustache, which changes your perception of them. Doctors should be educated to see through those biases, however, just in the experiences I listed above, with doctor-number-one acting like I was a child talking out of turn, some are better at communicating than others. I’m not sure if it’s based on their proximity to the computer system. If they’re too distracted by reading over my medical history, interrupting me to ask questions about what they found on the computer, then they might not see the patient in front of them.

I wonder if some doctors have a strict time-limit for talking to patients?

I wouldn’t mind waiting, as I did, for over one hour to see a doctor that can give me time. My expectations would be higher, but that’s not to say world-class. Just, you know, actually listening to the patient. That’s a high bar to settle for some, but I won’t give up.

Soon, I should have a short-term fix for these debilitating headaches.

The long-term fix will be talking with doctors of primary care and neurology about specific scenarios. What if my diet or spine are causing these headaches? None had asked me those questions. What if I’m allergic to peanut butter, which is presenting as inflammation around the brain rather than as rashes. Those doctors would never ask. Doctor-number-two was just focused on anxiety to such a degree that even after I explained my problems with antidepressants, the doctor just went with a different classification of the same category.

I have one more.

Should I use it now? Will there be a need for it later? We’ll see. If the prednisone works as prescribed, when I take it, I should be in the clear. I’m also just about done with work for the day, so that major stressor should be off my back, too.

But I get these violent pangs of agony.

They prevent me from doing anything at all. I’m going to get something to snack on that won’t make me more nauseous and see if that’ll help. It did, but when I returned to my desk and did some more work, I started gambling about when I’d take that last Sumatriptan. When I rolled a D20, I took it, and about one hour later, the headache behind my right eye lessened then went away.

It was a cure! It worked!…

Except, it didn’t fix it entirely. On the drive home, I thought about it how I have about five different types of headaches. I can handle the behind-the-right-eye headache. I can handle the tension headaches. I can’t handle both or more going off at the same time. If I just had the eye behind-the-right-eye headache, then sure, that would work, but right now, I have a headache just above my right eye. It’s closer to my forehead and my neck is sore.

These didn’t clear up.

Isn’t a lack of sleep or overwork a potential cause? Certainly, but with the amount of pain that my body is in through these headaches, I don’t imagine that any of those were singular causes. I’m imagining that I’ve had multiple smaller issues residually hang out for months at a time, so after I get all this sorted out, I’ll keep a headache log along with a “DAYS SINCE LAST HEADACHE” sign somewhere. Might as well make a joke out of being in debilitating pain for weeks that four doctors thought were insignificant.

It makes the whole thing worthwhile.

I’m not sure if I’d recommend keeping any Sumatriptan on hand compared to any regular over-the-counter medication. I do feel like I’m missing them. They could be useful sometime.

However, I’d rather not be tied to taking a medicine that just numbs pain or doesn’t outright solve the problem.

[Addendum comment: The next time I woke up, after taking this medication, the same headache was back. I would say Sumatriptan is, overall, a pain-numbing medication rather than a pain-solving solution. Unless your headaches aren’t mindbenders that subconsciously encourage sobriety breakers.]

Quotes: [1] Me. [2] Doctor-number-five. [3] I would bet five dollars that this doctor’s education was in alignment with a first-year student. Don’t be afraid to fire your doctors. They are not all saints.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: This whole Tripping On series – see Amitriptyline – is useful for subjective experiences that have put me at the edge of my tolerance for sobriety.
Related: Other Sober Living essays.
Photo: This has been my first bottle of medicine to be in a blue container.
Written On: 35 minutes. December 4th, 2019 [From 12:44am to “patient care issue” at 12:59am. From 1:02am to “rather than as rashes” at 1:09am. From 1:11am to “antidepressants, the doctor” at 1:12am. From 2:57am to “classifications” with a two-minute break to “we’ll” for a minute break to “that’ll help” at 3:04am. From 8:52am to outro at 9:01am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: December 5th, 2019 [Subtle edits from the Gdocs draft, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.