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Jul 17 2013

This Is Why I Waited

I mentioned on Sunday that I was on a new migraine medication. Still on it. It’s working so far as far as migraines go, which is good, because they were getting bad. My head is a very quiet place in some ways. In others, it’s sharply divided.

I don’t really know how to explain that, except to say that it’s a little like the dividedness of migraine. I am in the center; all around me is something that is happening in my brain but isn’t part of who I am. It’s a little like anxiety in that way too. It isn’t mine, but it’s right here and not leaving me alone. But this is its own thing, different from migraine, different from anxiety. Sometimes it’s like a heavy comforter, weighing everything down. Sometimes it’s like the scattered interconnectedness of dreaming.

Some of it probably is dreaming, actually, since what they put me on is amitriptyline. One of the dominant side effects is drowsiness, and I’ve got it in spades. I wouldn’t mind sleeping 11-12 hours a night/day so much, since I’ve needed to pay out this sleep debt for months, if I could only be awake when I’m awake. But I’m not there yet. Making progress, maybe, but not there. Caffeine isn’t much help.

So this drug is trying to make me sleep more than I can physically sleep in a day, which means it sometimes tries to turn my brain over to dreaming while I have my eyes open and am thinking about other things. At its best, that provides a weird stream of consciousness that can be amusing. At its worst, that means hallucinations.

Again, having had migraines serves me well here, as do similar experiences with diphenhydramine (variously Benadryl or Unisom/Sominex in the U.S., depending on whether the antihistamine or sedative properties are desired). The strange things my brain is doing don’t seem normal, but they’re a normal abnormal. They’re an “Oh, that” rather than a “What the fuck?!”

Still, this experience is new in some ways, and while I’ve learned tricks or habits that allow me to sort of think through a migraine, I’m not sure I’ve learned how to think through dreaming. Well, not coherently enough to write, anyway. Or at least not coherently enough to trust myself to make sense when I write.

Consider this an experiment in the form of an explanation in the form of half an apology. I may not be writing a ton for a little while here, while the me that is me figures out how to deal with the me that is drugged. And the me that is asleep even when I’m not sleeping. I’ll get back to this as I can.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Stacy

    I’m so glad you’ve found effective pain relief!

    As for the dreaming and the hallucinations–*looking on the positive side*–you could try keeping a dream journal (if you don’t already.) Becoming aware of the odd workings of one’s subconscious can be interesting. Dreams often contain puns and free association. And they may provide some arresting images and metaphors, if you write fiction now or in the future.

  2. 2
    Martha

    Sounds like it would be an interesting experiment if you could be sure it would be temporary and massively frustrating as it lingers. I hope the side effects abate soon and that it does the trick of preventing migraines. I also hope the enforced rest is rejuvenating in the end. You sure as hell deserve that.

  3. 3
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Hope you feel better soon, Stephanie Zvan.

    I enjoy reading your blog but I completely understand if you can’t post as often as usual. No probs.

  4. 4
    karmacat

    You may want to ask your doctor about nortriptyline. It tends not to cause as much sleepiness as amitriptyline.

  5. 5
    LicoriceAllsort

    Good luck! I’ve had some success, too, with a combo of butterbur extract, feverfew extract, coenzyme q10, and magnesium. It took me some convincing to go to GNC and buy herbal supplements, but there’s actually some decent scientific evidence for moderate, more-than-placebo effects of each of these. I have pretty bad migraines–speech involvement, sleep for 3 days straight, months of dizziness between being completely immobilized–but I haven’t had a full relapse in 3 mos after starting these.

    Another thing that’s helped me is a progressive exercise program, once I got healthy enough to tolerate some walking. I followed the Couch-to-5k program but only advanced as tolerated (not according to their 9-week schedule).

    I know migraine disorders are different, but thought maybe I’d just mention things that have helped me. Best of luck with your therapy.

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