Round One – The GP

I arrived at my GP’s office for my appointment armed to the teeth with articles and statistics regarding migraines and my related symptoms. He was in a rush, as usual. As I sat down in his office, he asked how I had been. I told him I’m having recurring headaches. He said stress or sinus were the most likely causes. I told him both had been ruled out. He asked me who had ruled them out. I responded that I had seen my ENT who gave me an exam and meds that didn’t help. She diagnosed migraines. Well, my GP said, I still feel it may be stress related and maybe I should see a psychiatrist. I explained that I was there for headaches and not psych referrals. He agreed to continue with the Fiorinal and refer me to a neurologist. I agreed to the referral and we set up an appointment. After an extremely thorough exam, bloodwork, an MRI and CT scan, the Neurologist diagnosed probable Fibromyalgia, with headaches being a symptom. Medication was given to try for two months. I filled the prescription for Lyrica, went home, and read the possible side effects. The least frightening side-effect being “permanent nerve pain.” I said to myself “Not a chance!” I didn’t think my symptoms were from Fibromyalgia, and since there is no definitive test, I wanted to keep searching. Next, I was referred to a rheumatologist. More tests, best guess, Fibromyalgia. I went home and did multitudes of research on Fibromyalgia and other “invisible illnesses.” The current medical opinion was that these “syndromes” were attached to mostly women, were stress-related, and usually patients had underlying psychiatric issues. In other words, there was a stigma attached to these illnesses. I wasn’t convinced that I belonged in this group. Onward on my journey.

My Struggle Begins

I had the occasional headache over the years. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s, after sinus surgery, that I developed a headache that wouldn’t subside. I wound up at Thomas Jefferson University Headache Center in Philadelphia. They diagnosed a Migraine. I stayed for several days for treatment and was released. The next incident wasn’t until my 30’s.I had what I described as the “worst headache ever!” I went to the emergency room and was told it too was a migraine. I was treated and released. I didn’t have anymore issues until 2005. I was in a stressful job and having chronic sinus infections so Migraine didn’t even enter my mind. As my headaches became more frequent and painful, I saw my ENT, who diagnosed sinus headache. Treatment didn’t help. I saw my GP, who diagnosed stress. Treatment didn’t help. Frustrated, and in pain, I decided to do my own research. I Googled and WEBMD’d and went back to my GP. Thus began my epic struggle for answers and treatment.

In The Beginning

The best place to begin is always the beginning. As a child and preteen, I had pretty severe issues with depression and panic attacks. When Prozac came out, it was my miracle drug. It kept me chemically balanced and able to function without issues. I grew up normally. Graduated high school, began my working life. I tried many different types of jobs, then, in my early 20’s, I had an interview at a dental office for a receptionist position. I got the job and spent the following 23 years moving up in the field from front desk to chairside assistant to manager. My most recent job was Practice Manager of a large, prestigious dental practice. I loved my job, the responsibilities, the money and benefits and especially the feeling of security. In having a place to work steadily until retirement. Then in 2011, after 6 years in this position, everything changed. My life that I had always known had ended. And my nightmare began.