guess it's past time for me to write my story. My name is Melissa,
but close family and friends often call me Lissa. I hope everyone
doesn't mind, but I'm going to go back a bit before my chronic pain,
to explain some of my other illnesses.
I always remember suffering from depression and anxiety,
from a very early age. It came out in various ways, but did not
get to the point where it disrupted my life until I was in
University. That was the first time I was treated for
depression and anxiety with therapy and medication.
Well, that situation only got worse as time went on. As a
young, single working teacher, I had my first migraine.
I thought I was going to die from the intense pain and
vomiting. My mom suffered with migraines, so I called her and
she told me to go to the ER immediately (my roommate drove me,
luckily). So from then on I suffered with occasional migraines,
depression, and anxiety.
At the age of 27, in the fall of 1996, I moved back to the same
area as my parents. Within a year, they had to put me in a
psychiatric hospital. There, I was finally diagnosed
with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which causes
clinical depression but is actually an anxiety disorder.
Medication and therapy made a huge difference in my life, and I
felt normal for once in my lifetime.
Soon thereafter I met McKay, and within a few months we were
married. It's been a wonderful 13 1/2 years, but we've had some
tough times. Our second year of marriage, we had twins, Caleb
and Madeleine, and our daughter was born with a heart defect.
She had many heart procedures, including two open-heart
surgeries, before she died at home at the age of 11 months. The
day of her death is too difficult to describe, but suffice it to
say that I was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic
because of what we went through before the
paramedics came. I also suffer from panic attacks
because of the anxiety disorder
During the time of Madeleine's illness and subsequent death, my
migraines became more and more frequent. But at the time, that
seemed only natural because of the circumstances. It finally
reached the point in June 2001 that the migraine never
stopped. And I do mean never. I saw my neurologist, and he
eventually sent me to a specialist at the University of South
Alabama who is supposedly one of the top headache specialists in
the country. He told me that after a certain amount of time
(which I was way past), the brain rewires itself to think that
pain is "normal". He tried me on all kinds of medicine, from
methadone to oxycontin, but none really worked well enough for
me to be able to stand the side effects. He finally called me
at home one day and told me that he could do nothing else for
me. And that was it. For him, at least.
My neurologist at home has never stopped trying to find things
to help me. I've tried every preventative, every pain
pill/patch; you name it, I'm pretty sure I've tried it! I had a
lumbar puncture, which showed that the pressure in my
cerebro-spinal fluid is too high, causing fluid to press on the
brain. This is called pseudotumor cerebri. For this
problem, I have to take fluid pills twice a day, every day to
try to keep the fluid, and thus the pressure on my brain, down.
My neurologist started me on botox injections this year, and I
am having wonderful results. The pain never goes away, but it
has been less overall (lower on the pain scale of 1 - 10). A
normal pain day for me now means a
4-6 on the pain scale. Of course, some days are much worse, and
he has three different kinds of pain treatments that we rotate
according to how bad the pain is. But for 10 years (as of this
month, June 2011), it has never been below a 4. And a 4
is actually pretty rare, to be honest.
So now I have at least four kinds of headaches: chronic daily
migraines that pound on the sides of my head, pressure on the
back and top of my head from the pseudotumor cerebri, and at
times a sinus headache (at the usual places) and of course the
fun tension headaches that come with life, especially life with
an anxiety disorder!
I will never stop looking and praying for a way out of this
constant pain. Often there is little I can do except hurt,
vomit, and cry, but I always try to keep in the back of my mind
that it is going to end, and with God's help, end permanently.