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Posts Tagged ‘insomnia’

Correlation?

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 4, 2015

So if you’ve been reading me for any time at all, you’re familiar with the fact that I have and battle severe head pain. I have trigeminal neuralgia and have somehow also been diagnosed with cluster headache, both of which are supposed to be among the most painful conditions there are in the world. My pain this year, made worse by my daily, horrible back pain, has been hellish and debilitating. But my wife and I have started to suspect a possible pattern with my head pain and we’re interested in trying to prove this theory. I have really bad insomnia and average about three or so hours of sleep per night. I try to go to bed between 10 and 10:30 at night and often am up between midnight and 2 am, even as early as 11:30 PM the other night. I can’t go back to sleep when this happens, typically, although my sleep doctor has given me a second sleeping pill to take when I wake up so that I can try to get more sleep. Sometimes I take it and it can work. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I forget to take it. And sometimes I don’t want to take it, cause I actually like getting up fairly early. Anyway, two of the past three nights I’ve somehow slept in. One night I slept in until the horribly late time of 6:15 and the other I slept in until 4:15. It was horrifying. What was more horrifying was that my head pain was much worse than usual on both days following those nights. I had 10 out of 10 days. The pain was nonstop, all day hell with virtually no relief. Eventually, quite a few prescription pain meds helped decrease the pain by the very end of the day just a little bit, but it was way too little way too late. And the interesting thing was that on the usual days that I get up between midnight and 2, my pain level is usually more between 7 and 8, sometimes as low as 6 out of 10. Usually 7. And this isn’t the first time we’ve noticed this. I rarely get to sleep in, so we haven’t gotten to observe this often, but the few times it’s happened, we seem to recollect that my really bad headaches seem to occur on days I get the most sleep — seven or eight hours. When I get, two, three, four, the pain is somewhat significantly less. Why is that? I have no idea. There has to be a correlation, though, don’t you think? It can’t be pure coincidence. When I go to Vandy’s headache clinic next week, I want to bring this up and let them ponder this. See what they ultimately have to say about it. I do know poor sleep can affect head pain. But to this degree? By the way, I’ve told my pain management specialist I’m going to Vandy and she’s excited and hopeful for me, but I haven’t told my neurologist because he’s a massive narcissist who would probably be massively insulted and might make things hard for me. I’m not quite sure what to do about that. I don’t want to drop him yet because Vandy might not be able to help me and/or driving six hours a day to go there and back regularly might turn out to be a giant pain in the ass if they’re not seriously helping me long term. Oh, and Gretchen is taking that day off to go to Nashville with me, which is awesome. It’ll be great to have her support and also her word to confirm my assertions, as well as to drive us home as truthfully, I don’t know if I’d be able to do so based on my recent head pain patterns.

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Been Sick

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 30, 2015

Man, I’ve been sick for several days now. Not violently ill or anything. Just sick. As in a bad cold. Or bad allergies. Or something. For awhile now, I’ve been getting sore throats and earaches. I made an appointment to see my doctor, but they couldn’t fit me in for two freakin’ weeks, so I’ve been waiting to see them. Meanwhile, on Friday I got much worse. My throat started feeling incredibly sore, very, very sore. My ears hurt. My head started pounding. I started sneezing. And I was both congested and blowing my nose, violently, if you can believe that. Over and over again. I was wearing the Kleenex out. I talked to a different doctor who thought it might be allergies, although I don’t think that’s what it is. I’ve never had allergic reactions like this to anything. Anyway, she suggested I start taking Allegra and Mucinex, so I did. Gretchen also put me on some natural stuff. I also took Advil and vitamins. And Ricola for the throat. I couldn’t sleep. I had to blow my nose every 10 minutes, so I literally couldn’t sleep. Friday night, I got about an hour and Saturday night, again about an hour. I was up by 1 each morning. I was miserable. I tried taking naps during the day, but had the same problem. Last night, I was able to sleep a little, until 2. I’m feeling some better. My earache is gone. My throat has improved. My head still hurts and my nose is sore as hell and is still bothering me like crazy, but even it’s improved some, so I think I’m through the worst of it. However, I may have given it to my wife and that’s a disturbing thought. She started feeling poorly yesterday. I truly hope she doesn’t come down with this. Meanwhile, our two year marital anniversary is coming up in a week, so that’s exciting! We both better be healthy for that, darn it! I guess that’s it for now.

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Med Cocktail Mess

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 2, 2015

So I’ve been doing a lot of research on various websites lately on several different meds I take and the outlook is pretty grim. This all started because about a month ago, I was put on a new med with what drugs.com said had 109 side effects, including extreme rage, anxiety, hostility, suicidal tendencies, depression, and more. That’s a little worrisome. So we monitored how I did and to our relief, I didn’t experience any of those. What I did experience were extreme drowsiness, bloody noses, chest pains, dry mouth, and extreme tiredness, to the point of making it difficult for me to function throughout the day. But the payoff was good because the med — for pain — was actually working! However, as I started researching, I noticed the med was mentioned with another med that I was on, another fairly new one, that also had extreme tiredness as a side effect. Double whammy, I guess. Then, as I continued to research, I found a site that listed countless posts with people discussing three meds that I’m on — one I’ve been on for a long time — and a cocktail they believe is responsible for both short and long term memory loss. Big time memory loss. Very sobering. I guess the good thing is I’m on average doses for two of them and a smallish dose for the third, so I guess that’s good, but I’m really fatigued all of the time, just worn out. And my memory’s been going for awhile now. But perhaps more importantly, I can’t function during the day anymore. In the morning, I’m dropping off early and it doesn’t help that I’m a severe insomniac, often up at 1 or 2 AM. I’m usually good late in the morning or during the mid afternoon, but by late afternoon, I’m nodding off in a chair and by evening, I’m falling asleep in a chair and I’m ready for bed by 8. I don’t usually make it to bed that early, but I’m ready. It’s gotten so bad that it’s rough for me to drive during the day. I’ve fallen asleep at red lights. And yet I have a hard time taking naps. Go figure. It makes no sense. I get three hours of sleep a night, typically, and can’t sleep during the day, often, except now I’m always tired and nodding off. And it’s the meds. I’ve read about a few people who said their side effects cleared up when their doses were doubled. I’m a little concerned about asking for that, but I’m willing to give it a try. I’m going to try and call one of my doctors today about this. Four different doctors are monitoring these three meds I’m on. Surely one of them will have something decent to say about it! And the thing is, my pain level has substantially decreased, so I don’t want to decrease my med dose. It’s working. But something’s got to be done about the fatigue. I’m already taking Nuvigil and Adderral. I don’t know what else they could do about that. Maybe doubling the dose would do it. I’m willing to try it. Gah! These meds are going to be the death of me!

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Insomnia

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 22, 2015

I’ve been up since 12:15 AM and I want to write something about my severe insomnia, but I don’t know what to write. Yesterday, I had the luxury of sleeping in until 4:15, but that’s very rare. Normally, I’m up by 2:15. I typically go to bed around 10 or 10:30, so I average maybe three or perhaps four hours of sleep a night. I try to take a one hour nap after lunch every day, which helps to a certain degree, but I’m always exhausted. It’s very wearing. I take two sleeping pills and many other pills with sedative side effects, but while they put me to sleep, they don’t keep me asleep. It’s very frustrating. It’s been this way for at least 12+ years. For as long as I can remember. I can’t remember when it wasn’t this way. I don’t know what caused it or what causes it. I’ve tried every prescription and non-prescription sleep aid known and nothing helps. Right now, I’m taking Estazolam and Sonota, neither of which help that much, as I mentioned. I’m writing this at 4:25 AM and I feel like I’ve been up all morning. By the time my wife gets up, I’ll be ready to go back to bed. But I almost can never do that. I just can’t go back to sleep again. It’s very frustrating. Insomnia blows.

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2014 in Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2014

At the end of the past two years, I believe, I’ve written about what took place during that year, so I’m doing so again. Here’s the synopsis, as best my memory can recollect.

In January, my mother celebrated her 84th birthday, so we spent a little time with her. The month was otherwise uneventful.

In February, we put our old house on the market and moved to our new house. We’re pretty grateful for the trade. Our old house was in what looked like a nice neighborhood, but it was actually nearly a ghetto. It was very loud and had a lot of crime. Now, we’re up on top of a mountain in a quiet neighborhood with no crime. We feel good about that.

February also saw the death of our beloved cat Toby. He was only six and it didn’t seem fair. He essentially died of kidney failure, although we sadly had to put him to sleep (which seems to me to be a pansy way of saying we killed him). We had him cremated and keep his ashes with my late cat Rocky’s ashes. We still miss Toby a lot.

We also got a membership to a good shooting range in February and have enjoyed that a lot.

March was pretty uneventful.

In April, I got a new car. I traded in my lemon BMW 530i for a 2011 Toyota Camry and couldn’t be happier. I found it on Autotrader at a dealer in Atlanta and went down there, beat someone else coming to buy it — barely — test drove it, and left with it to come home. It’s been a great car.

Sometime around April also saw the return of my head pain that I’ve had since 2010. I have trigeminal neuralgia, so I have to take a lot of pain pills and have had a number of procedures to try and combat it.

Additionally, Gretchen’s birthday is in April, so we went up to Baltimore to celebrate it with her friends and family. We had a very good time. It was great to see everyone and we got to go to an Orioles game, a museum, some good restaurants and even saw some friends in Virginia on the way.

Finally, we celebrated our one year anniversary in April. It was pretty low key, but we had a good time remembering our wedding and honeymoon to the beach the year before.

In May, I got a SCCY CPX-1 9 mm through an online auction site for a very good price and a Beretta PX4 Storm at a gun show. Neither gun has turned out to be my favorite — a Ruger SR9c is — but I was happy to have them. Meanwhile, Gretchen turned out to be a pro with our Marlin .22 rifle.

I believe it was May, too, when Mom moved from here back up to Knoxville, her old home. It was sad to see her go, but it was good for her to be back with her many friends and at her old church, which she had missed. She got a nice one level condo and is living on her own. We do worry about her though.

In June, we thought we had a buyer for our old house, finally. We had had to lower the price three times and it was going for practically nothing. We were about to take an $18,000 loss on it. However, the financing for this buyer fell through, so we were back at square one.

In June, I also had a disability hearing. It was my second time in court for it and I was denied for the fourth time. However, my lawyer appealed. And the judge left open the chance that he might rule in my favor if my orthopedist provided appropriate information.

July was the one year anniversary of my father’s death. That was very sad. We went to visit his gravestone in the cemetery where he’s buried in Knoxville. In July, I also had the first of three neurological procedures for my head pain. It didn’t really work, so that was disappointing.

We also had a new buyer for our old home in July. They were doing FHA financing though, so it would take awhile. They agreed to buy the house at very nearly the price we were asking. The closing was set for October.

I think August was pretty uneventful. I had been doing a lot of traveling back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville to help Mom out with things. That got old. We also started looking for a new church, even though I was on the vestry of our old church. It was simply too small and too old. We were the youngest people there and people were dying off and no one new was joining. It was a dying church. So we started going to other Episcopal churches, as well as Methodist and Presbyterian.

In September, I celebrated my 48th birthday and tried not to get too depressed.

During that month, I also had two more surgical procedures for my head pain, but neither helped. It was discouraging.

October came around and the financing for our house’s buyer fell through the day before the closing. We were livid and so were they. However, our realtor worked the phones and found a new lender within two days, so they were approved and a new closing was set for about two weeks away.

I also had my third court hearing for my disability. My lawyers prepared me for disappointment. They said everything would hinge on what the medical expert would say and they didn’t expect much. When the judge started questioning the expert, though, I was shocked to hear him say my back was too bad to work and that, combined with my trigeminal neuralgia and other assorted things, meant I couldn’t work at all. So the judge finally ruled in my favor and I got disability. I was shocked and elated, because I had been trying for this for over three years and now finally I got it.

During this time, my insomnia had gotten worse and I was consistently getting up between 2 and 3:30 AM, which was frustrating.

We did something pretty fun in October. For my birthday, Gretchen got me Penguins tickets to go see them play the Predators in Nashville. So we went up there, went to Bridgestone Arena, which was nice, and saw the Pens win 3-0. It was very fun and we had a great time. We also had a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant before the game. Oh, and there were a ton of Pens fans there too!

October is also the month for Halloween. We never had kids come to our house at our old place, but we had about 25 kids come to our new house, so we were tickled about that.

In November, we traveled to Saint Simons Island GA, where I used to live, to go to the beach and take a nice vacation. The weather was still good and we had a nice time. We also went to Savannah and Jekyll Island. It was a great vacation.

In November, we also finally sold our old house and with the money I was able to pay off all of my old student loans, which was a sizable sum, so that was great. However, we discovered a water leak in the kitchen the day before the closing. The buyers still bought the home, but we went through a nightmare getting repairs to the floors and cabinets done while these people got impatient waiting to move in. I don’t blame them, but they drove me nuts.

Additionally, we had a new addition to the family this month. Ace, a three month old tabby cat, joined, per Gretchen’s strong wishes. He’s a bundle of energy, but he’s been fun.

This month, in December, I finally got my disability award letter and a lump sum for my back pay. I also got my Medicare card, even though I’m retaining my Obamacare insurance cause it’s frankly better.

We also found a new church we’re joining next week. It’s Rivermont Presbyterian Church, which is a UPUSA church. It’s bigger with more people of all ages and has a number of Sunday Schools to attend, so we’re excited.

We celebrated Christmas last week and had a great holiday season. We sent and got a lot of cards and exchanged some great gifts and had a good time. Of course it’s also bowl month, so that’s good.

In sports, my Steelers have made the playoffs, so I have big hopes for them. My Pirates made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but didn’t get anywhere. There’s always next year, right? My Penguins made the playoffs, but got bounced out in the second round by the Rangers, so that was disappointing. They’re playing now and even though they have a TON of injuries, they’re still having a good season. Meanwhile my Vols made a bowl game for the first time in four years and they’ll be playing Iowa on January 2. I’m hoping for a win.

So, it was an up and down year. I still have head pain. I still have insomnia. Gretchen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus. That’s bad. But we got a new house, a new car, paid off my student loans, and I got disability, so that’s all good. We’re hoping for a great 2015 and we hope all of you have a great 2015 too. Cheers!

 

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Insomnia Sucks!

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2014

I’ve had pretty bad insomnia since at least 2002. I’ve had several sleep doctors during this time and have tried just about every sleep aid available. Nothing helps. Two nights ago, I got no sleep at all. I was up the whole night. Tonight I got two hours. My doctor says I average about three and a half per night. In all candor, I do try and get a nap in around lunchtime, usually for 30-60 minutes, but it doesn’t help all that much. And while I used to be able to nap easily, I now have a hard time falling asleep for that too.

I’m very frustrated. And exhausted. All the time. I have no energy. Little motivation. I just want sleep. My therapist talks to me about my “sleep debt,” but I think she may be on to something. I think it exists and I have it.

Right now, I take a lot of meds to help me fall asleep and they’re usually effective. They just don’t keep me asleep, and that’s the problem. It’s maddening. I take a $1,600 retail med just to get me asleep and it works for a couple of hours. Damn!

I don’t really have much more to say about it. Our late cat, Toby, would get up and keep me company in the office during the early morning hours and that was nice, but he’s been dead for nine months now and our remaining cat, Henry, rarely joins me. I really miss Toby.

I usually drink coffee and listen to music in the den for awhile. Then I go into the office, check things out online and ultimately play Civilization 5 for hours. I’m glad I don’t get bored with it or I’d go nuts. Right now, I’m trying to get my Safari browser working again. It’s on the fritz and I’m using Firefox. But I’ve got so many open tabs on Safari, I really need it to open up and work again. Don’t know what’s wrong with it.

I’m rambling now. I’ve been having bad headaches again lately and that’s frustrating. There can be connections between headaches and insomnia, so my pain management doctor instructed me to make an appointment with my sleep doctor to discuss this. Guess how long it is until I can get in to see my sleep doctor? Two months! And I’m an established patient!!! What if it were an emergency? Crap.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. I’m glad so many of you liked my vacation post with all of the pictures. I wish I could write more posts like that. I guess it’ll have to wait until we have another vacation, eh? Cheers!

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