Posted 1/15/2013 7:43 AM (GMT -7)
After five years of a constant headache and the frustrations of running from one doctor to the next, only to be prescribed medications that did not work or only worked short term, I have had four weeks without a "significant" headache. Here is my story.
about five years ago, when my children were 1, 3, and 5, I woke up one morning with a headache. Over the next couple of weeks the headache intensified and was constant. The majority of my pain was in my temple region and my eyes were extremely sensitive to light. I tried OTC medications which had no effect. Scared, I went to my GP, who ordered blood work and a CT scan. My lab results and CT scan came back with nothing that would be the source of my headache. (I did have a very high ANA count.) She prescribed a handful of medications which did not help. Over the next five years, I doctor-hopped trying to find the source of my pain. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a physician who will work to find the cause, rather than mask it with medication. I did find some relief with prescription strength Aleve and Toridol, but it only took the edge off. Because of the possible side effects, I would alternate the medications and only take it every three days or so. Those were the days I would pull myself together mentally as well as catch up on any physical work I couldn't manage the other days.
about four months ago, these medications stopped working. My head pain stayed at about an 8 or a 9. My husband saw my hopelessness and called a friend who is a general surgeon for guidance. He knew of a neurologist who specialized in headaches, Dr. Blake in Houston. I saw Dr. Blake and immediately began a series of nerve block and steroid injections in the greater and less occipital regions (the back of the head.)
These injections lessened my pain and brought me new hope. However, the results were not lasting. Because they were effective I was told I was a good candidate for nerve decompression surgery. I consulted with a local surgeon but ultimately decided on a surgeon in Dallas, Dr. Bardia Amirlak. He reviewed my detailed headache journal and was convinced I would receive the most benefit from surgery in the greater occipital region as well as two regions in the front that he refers to as Migraine I and II.
Immediately following the procedure, I had head pain but it was very surface, unlike the deep, stabbing pain of a headache. On day two, when I woke up, I knew something was different. My sensitivity to light was gone! My pain level was a 2 or 3, but again, was very surface. And this was with no pain medication! I am four weeks post-op and feel great! (The only time I have head pain is when I don't follow the doctor's orders and do too much. i.e. moving furniture, playing baseball with my children, etc. It is very short-lived and subsides with rest and ice.)
I know this surgery is not the answer for everyone with a persistent headache or frequent migraines, but I want to share my story so that more people can know of this procedure, which is not well-known, even among physicians, although medical studies have proven it to be very effective.