Emergency Room Help

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Posted by Vince S. ( on November 26, 2000 at 09:37:00:

In Reply to: UNCONTROLLED PAIN posted by SKOR on November 24, 2000 at 23:27:00:


Last Thursday I had reached the point of giving up as well. The episode had lasted all night, and by 5am I was ready to jump out a window. I finally gave in and drove myself to Emergency. Although the hospital is only a few miles from my house, the journey felt like it took forever. The only way I could drive was to force my right shoulder against the base of my skull, which provided me with just enough relief to navigate the car down the road. Mind you, my vision was blurred and the tears were streaming down my cheeks, not to mention everything looked "sideways" because of the way I was holding my head. With two young children at home, I couldn't enlist my wife to do the driving, so off to ER I went by myself.
This was my first "Cluster" trip to the ER in several years. I too had given up on them because of their ignorance to our condition, and their insistence on having long discussions with me about whether or not I was there to "cop some good drugs." This time it was different. They immediately led me back to a room. The nurse got a brief history from me, and seemed to know what Clusters were. She took my blood pressure and temp, and said the doctor would be right in. I too am a bad candidate for Imitrex, Maxalt, and other drugs of that variety. I was hoping for a good anti-inflammatory injection to make the spasms and pounding stop.
Eventually, the doctor came in. He looked over my history and asked me a few questions. I could see he was convinced I was suffering from Clusters, and he seemed to know all about them. He explained that since I had driven myself, he had to be careful about how he treated me, but assured me my headache would be gone in a few moments. He seemed VERY confident. Then he did something remarkable - something I had never experienced before. He shoved a small "oral" type syringe up my right nostril and blasted a bunch of Lidocaine goo right up my nose. He told me to try not to swallow. He also said "We don't know WHY this works, but trust me - it does." As soon as the goopy Anbesol-type substance started draining down my throat, my head cleared. The stiffness and soreness in my neck and back remained, but the terrible burning behind my right eye was GONE, and the throbs became painless throbs. I wanted to hug the guy! He then explained that the headache would start to come back, and a nurse appeared with a shot of an anti-inflammatory drug and asked me to drop my pants. BANG went the needle into my left cheek. At this moment, I felt better than I had for the previous 7 hours, although I was exhausted from no sleep. She then put me on oxygen, and they left me alone in the room for a few minutes. As the Lidocaine began to wear off, the anti-inflammatory must have taken affect, because the headache didn't come back. The taste in my mouth from the Lidocaine was terrible - but that was a small price to pay for relief. I'll never forget that young ER physician, and how he seemed to know just what to do. Those of us who suffer from CH NEED doctors like him - doctors who understand what we're going through and spring into action. Don't get discouraged about the lack of understanding of some doctors. Show up with information about your condition. Educate them, and inspire them to read more info on CH so they'll know what to do the next time. Had I not encountered this bright young doctor, I would have said "Look, I'm not here for pain drugs. They usually don't work anyway. I'm here for an anti-inflammatory to get the swelling and throbbing down." Next time I'm in that situation, I'll probably say "The last guy injected Lidocaine up my right nostril and that seemed to zap the headache while we waited for the anti-inflammatory to work." If the ER doctor isn't hip to CH, he's going to read the chart from the previous visit and see exactly what the other ER physician did to help me. This is precisely the way new treatments are developed, and why one experience may help someone else in the future. I now have a renewed sense of hope that the medical industry is slowly becoming aware of CH. I know all too well how easy it is to become depressed. These headaches are absolute HELL. But don't give up now - we're too close to the answers that will keep the monsters in check forever. Lastly, once you find a good neurologist who is willing to experiment with treatments for you, have him/her write you a letter to take to the ER with you should you ever need to go. This document will become invaluable to you, and stop ER physicians from treating you like a "doper". Good luck and God Bless.

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