Health Round-up From The Pharmboy

There's been some quite lively blogging recently over at Abel Pharmboy's pad. Of particular note was the live-blogged vasectomy:

Anyway, as a medical blogger, I will try to liveblog the process from my Palm Treo 700p at the Hospital-That-Tobacco-Built. While I hope it will distract me and relieve some of my anxiety, I'd like to post it on blog as a public service to other men who want to be selfish and make their wives have tubal ligation after the mother of their children suffered through birth(s). (I've blogged on PharmGirl's complicated C-section experience and having my scrotum hacked into pales in comparison to the pain she experienced.)

I gotta say, Abel rocks.

doc comes in. 3 questions:
are you allergic to any meds? PCN
do you get faint giving blood or seeing blood? hell yeah
do you want a vasectomy today? Yes

Yes, you'll want to read all of it. And you won't want to miss the follow-up posts compiling everyone else's commentary and where all the increase in blog traffic came from. (What's up with those Swedes, anyway?!?)

As fab as the live-blogged vasectomy was, I have to say a big thanks to Abel for another post in which he introduced me to the new Migraine: Perspectives On A Headache blog. This fascinating blog has a number of contributors including Oliver Sacks. (Zuska luvs Oliver Sacks. If you haven't read Uncle Tungsten yet, you need to get started.) From the migraine blog site I found the Migraine Aura Foundation site. If you, fortunate soul, have never suffered from a migraine, yet wonder what a migraine aura is like, then click on this link and watch the aura develop. Warning: if you do suffer from migraine, watching the aura develop could possibly trigger a migraine for you.

My aura was always pretty much like that except not in color, only a flashing white zig-zag. Try driving when one of those hits you. Not possible. Now that I have the blind spot (from the stroke) and the botox treatments, I don't get aura development very often. However, the edge of my blind spot shimmers constantly like the aura depicted at the link above. It's like always being at about 10 minutes into a 20-30 minute developing aura.

If you suffer from migraine, or live with someone who does, I think you will want to read the Migraine: Perspectives On A Headache blog. Here's Paula Kamen writing on a migraineur:

Hazel, who is African American, also personifies the fact that not all sufferers of chronic daily headache (and other inherently "invisible" pain problems) are from one stereotyped group: basically, complaining middle-class white ladies (such as yours truly) with too much time on their hands to think about their problems. This issue of race and class is one of the first questions I get about chronic daily headache, from people who doubt its legitimacy.

Actually, established population studies show that about 3 to 4 percent of people suffer this problem across nationality, race, and income level.

And again, on the "worst thing" about having chronic pain:

The worst thing, to me, about having a non-stop multi-year headache isn't necessarily the pain. Or the way it tends to disrupt intimate relationships, empty all financial reserves, and sabotage the best-laid career plans. It's not even the endless barrage of (albeit well-meaning) suggestions for "cures" from everyone you meet, most of which you've already tried anyway (except for the colon cleansing and the Jews for Jesus conversion).

No, it's the emotional suffering - from all the guilt and the shame, of patients like me thinking it's our entire fault, and maybe all in our heads.

Amen, sister. And double amen regarding everybody and his Aunt Tillie giving you those well-meaning suggestions for cures ("it worked for my sister's boyfriend's aunt"). I haven't yet figured out how to explain exactly why this is so annoying, but it is. What's also maddening is how every-freakin'-body has to make the same damn joke when they hear I get botox treatments for my migraines: "hey, you'll always look young!" For me, a botox treatment makes a pincushion of my entire head, neck, and shoulders, and it has nothing in common with a beauty treatment. It does not keep me wrinkle free. Getting botox treatments means there is nothing else that works for me; it's not like a cool extra perk for having migraines.

Okay, enough grumbling. Thanks again Abel for the migraine blog tip and for doing your part to encourage men to get vasectomies instead of pushing their partners to get tubal ligations. You really do rock!

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Hi folks. Last Friday I had a botox treatment for my migraines and it does seem to be having some good effects already. I'm going to give myself another day or so off from blogging since the computer can be one of my migraine triggers. Please let me stop you before you get a chance to write…
Back in January several science bloggers had an exchange that degenerated into discussion of the process and aftermath of the vasectomy. Well, as PhysioProf is wont to say, today I will sack up, literally. As part of my gift to PharmGirl for her [significant] bday next week I will undergo the knife…
[Note: Mr. Tweedy's first post, Shaking It Off, went up on 5 March 2008] Yesterday, London-based blogger Mo at Neurophilosophy alerted us to a new blog at the New York Times website entitled, Migraine: Perspectives on a Headache. A notable cadre of prominent migraine sufferers have started blogging…
A few days ago, I briefly discussed the article by Oliver Sacks about geometric hallucinations in migraine aura. I thought that it was published in the print edition of the New York Times, but it turns out that this is in fact Sacks's first post on a new NY Times blog called Migraine: Perspectives…

Has the botox been helpful? A clinician who I know quite well was one of the pioneers in developing botox as a treatment for migraine, torticollis, and some other neuromuscular-related disorders.

Awww, thanks very much for the nice post. You are too kind.

I knew that you'd especially appreciate the new NYT Migraine Blog. Beyond the sharing of stories as you note above, it also brings general attention to just how prevalent migraines are and, more importantly, how tremendously debilitating and havoc-wreaking they can be. I may have told you that migraines also run in my family but it has been my learning of your experiences that have kept me most alert for new developments in this area.

Re my vasectomy, you may also care to know this anecdote about the patriarchy: PharmGirl notes that I got sent home with far more pain meds for my mild, outpatient surgery than she did for her C-section and complications.

And thanks again - I really hope that the botox injections continue to improve your life. You rock, my friend!

I don't have constant migraines (I do get them every so often) so I can't know what it's like to have everyone tell you how to deal with them. But, I can tell you that the next person (who has never been depressed in her life) that tells me to try St. John's Wort for depression is going to get a fist in the eye. I'm sorry, but if you've never experienced soul-crushing depression then I really don't think you can possibly have any useful advice for me unless you are a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Abel Pharmboy does rock, but, I couldn't read the post because it was a little Too Much Information for me (but I appreciate that everyone might not be the delicate flower that I am). His comment about the pain killers reminds me of this clip, though.

I got sent home with far more pain meds for my mild, outpatient surgery than she did for her C-section and complications

I had a C-section, no complications fortunately, and many people congratulated me on having my baby the pain-free, easy way. Made me want to take a kitchen knife and put navel-to-pube incisions in their abdomens.

C-section, the pain-free easy way???? WTF????? If you did take a kitchen knife to some nitwit who says this, I am sure a jury of your peers would not convict, Rugosa...

Physioprof, yes the botox has been life-changing. Nothing else has worked for me. I get the treatments every three months and it makes it possible for me to have some sort of life...before I started the botox tx I was essentially confined to bed...headache 24/7. It's because of botox that I have whole days without headache. Yay!

Rugosa, I already respected PharmGirl for the slashing open of her abdomen, but then she had to have her uterus massaged over the top of her incision (to prevent blood clots from the complications) - long story about the baby being breech due to a vascular anomaly, etc.

Mrs Whatsit - don't worry, it's the people who know me in meatspace who find the TMI nature of my post unreadable. However, it got tremendous readership (for me) from folks who don't ever have to see me (and now probably never wish to!).

Excellent post! Learning the long-standing attitudes toward people with chronic daily headache clarifies so much. No wonder so many of us are wracked with guilt and worry that were exaggerating or even making the illness up.

Thanks for giving me so much to think about.

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