My Progress!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Migraines and my recent Diagnosis

Note: No, that isn't my brain. Mine is MUCH bigger than that ;)

Ok, so a few weeks ago I developed what I thought was a migraine. I used to have horrible migraines and every once in a while would get a baby migraine (as I called it) which I could usually knock out pretty quickly with medication. Several years ago, my migraines were so bad I thought I was going to have to go on disability because I would get them two to three times a week which meant pretty much my entire week was shot.

In addition to the headaches, I would get what I called “migraine fog.” This was how I described the confusion and inability to attend to anything or concentrate on anything. I would experience this preceding and following a migraine so you can imagine when you are having 2-3 a week it pretty much becomes an a problem that takes over every aspect of your life. I really feel the migraines contributed to the slippery slope that got me to 465 lbs because it really cut back on my daily activity level and made exercising almost impossible as getting my heart rate up could trigger another migraine.

The migraine I developed a few weeks ago lasted over a week. It got so bad at one point, I was having phantom smells, vision problems, incredible pain and nausea and vomiting. I went to the hospital and spent almost an entire day curled up in one of my doctor’s examination rooms while they tried to determine what was going on with me. This was absolutely the worst migraine I had ever experienced.

The doctor sent me for an MRI of the brain which came back normal, but they noted some possible narrowing of the foramen magnum which prompted them to order a follow up MRI of my cervical spine. Here are the results of that MRI in a nutshell:

1. Note findings consistent with Chiari I Malformation with inferior deviation of the cerebellar tonsils (which I think means they may be herniating through the hole at the base of the skull).
2. They also noted degenerative disc disease throughout the cervical spine (the neck)with flattening of the thecal sac (this is a description of the situation which occurs when a herniated (slipped or prolapsed) disc has extended so far into the spinal canal that it is pushing on the thecal sac or covering of the spinal cord)
3. Bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing again, I think this is possibly referring to narrowing of the opening in the spinal vertebra the spinal cord passes through due to some of the degenerative disc disease.
4. Partially empty sella: from what I can gather from my research on the interwebs, the sella is where you find the pituitary gland. When it presents as "partially empty" this could be normal or due to abnormal pituitary function which would make sense considering I've also been diagnosed with PCOS and abnormal levels of all the pituitary hormones (FSH, LH, ACTH, etc) contribute to this syndrome.

Based on these findings, my primary doc has referred me to a neurosurgeon to get his opinion on how bad it is and how it should be treated. Honestly, I think it sounds worse than it actually is. Yes, this can be a serious condition, but it sounds like I may have a mild form of it. I really expect the surgeon to say that all we really need to do at this point is manage the symptoms. I would be very surprised if he recommended surgery, but I guess that is a possibility.

Honestly, it is such a relief to FINALLY have some answers about the years of headaches I’ve had to cope with. It may even explain to some extent why I’m so uncoordinated and accident prone. Perhaps now that we know the cause, we can do more to prevent the migraines from happening. I’ve had a couple days where I feel almost completely headache free so some of the medication must be helping.

I see the neurosurgeon this Thursday and I will update you guys on what he says. Thanks again for the support xx


George said...

Hey, really great blog post… I've enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy you put into each post. I actually run, a blog of my personal research and experiences. If you're interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: bob.mauer65(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's alot of information! Happy you have some answers and best of luck at your neurosurgeon appointment :)

Christine said...

wow. I hope they can 'fix' it. anything brain spinal cord sounds serious to I am no expert. Good luck with the whole process.

George said...

I have Chiari 1 Malformation. I am going through with the surgery on 5/19, please pray for me. I am nervous and need to keep from reading all the horror stories on the internet as it is a skewed population. Thanks for writing this as it will help other people possibly identify what is going on with them.

Inbar said...

wow, this is amazing! my sister wants to be a neuro scientist so i was just looking around to find her a blog and by seeing this picture she guessed what you're diagnosis was before reading the actual post! It was actually really awesome! I really REALLY like you're blog! Thank you sooooo much for posting this!