Sunday, January 29, 2012

Neck Pain and Bell's Palsy - Part 1

Part 1 - Leading Up to the Diagnosis

Hey all!

I haven't posted since last April because...well...the continuous migraines just became too much to handle, and once I started mending, I needed to withdraw from everything.

I withdrew partially to encourage my healing, but the other part was due to embarrassment because I had let so many people down when I neglected all the book blogs. So, I buried myself in the world of anime.

This jaunt into the world of anime taught me much about my own writing as well, but that's for another post. As I healed, I began to reach back out into the internet world, beyond just playing FB games.

Then, just as all began to seem right with the world - hey, I was managing my pain, I was able to get out and be active even during cold weather, and I began working seriously on one of the stories I've thought about for some time. Not just hacking out the story, but building it using a sort of outline - something I've never done before. So, yeah, I thought things were going great.

Then, on January 20, I came down with a pain in the neck. No, not a vampire, a literal pain in the neck. While the pain didn't assert itself until a Friday night, I believe it had been building and began manifesting itself through the eye "ticking," "fluttering," or whatever you want to call it. At first I thought my eye was just "fluttering" (rapidly opening and closing) because the air in the condo was dry. That had been going on for at least 5 days prior to the pain I began to feel in my neck and head.

At this time, I must go back a little as I realize some other facts may be relevant. Roughly Monday of that week (Jan 17), I started to feel like I was getting a sinus infection, but waited a day thinking it might have just been congestion caused from allergies to dust (I hit a couple of dust pockets along the way while I was cleaning the kitchen and other related areas)...

Okay, so now that I look even closer at my own recounting, I'm beginning to wonder if the "eye flutters" started even earlier, such as the Friday to Saturday before that (Jan 13, 14), than I'm recalling and I just didn't pay attention to it.

Anyway, our new fridge was coming Wednesday (Jan 18), and the last thing I wanted was to be was ill. When getting ready for the fridge, I stumbled upon some current unused antibiotics (Amox, Clav) that I had to stop using before because it made the migraine that came with the last sinus infection that much worse (I had been off caffeine at the time, so I had no real recourse to deal with the migraine pain in the first place and sure couldn't tolerate it getting worse) that were still good. So, I started taking them. That was about early Tuesday (or late Monday night). By about Wednesday, I noticed that my ability to taste foods had disappeared and was replaced with an oily taste/coating in my mouth. It was very weird and something I had never experienced before that I can recall. I thought that the antibiotics were responsible and thought that even though the bottle said the meds were still good that maybe they went bad, and stopped taking them.

[Note: I know, I know self-medicating, blah, blah, blah. However, I'm prone to sinus infections and have been for years. I get on average 4 to 6 of them a year. If the meds aren't working initially, I'm not going to throw out good money because it just means the meds aren't working because I waited too long to see the doc about said sinus infection, and it's nested deep in my sinus cavity. So, I save that which doesn't work one time for another time. It has saved me some trouble, especially when a sinus infection would crop up when I was out of state or camping...basically, I save those extra meds (on the rare occasions I have any) for emergency purposes only. Besides, once you've had as many sinus infections (I'm 39 years old and have been dealing from at least the age of 15. 24 years times 4 infections a year minimum equates to not quite 100 of them. Experience in getting them is just as valuable as a dr learning how to diagnose the symptoms...) as I have, you know when you have one without question. You also know when your body is capable of healing itself without help and when it's time to go to the doctor.]

Well, my sense of taste didn't return and the oily feeling/taste remained. By Friday night (Jan 20) I began to feel headache pain similar to a migraine, but it was accompanied by neck stiffness. Along with that neck and head pain, I felt all kinds of head pressure, much like a sinus infection, but only on one side of my face, which has happened to me before, so I didn't put much stock in it being anything different than a sinus infection. As it reminded me of a migraine and I get some relief using ice, so I started icing the area down.

However, by the next day (according to my husband's memory), I noticed that half of my face wasn't working, but I still felt some tingles and numbness (like you feel when you get a shot of Novocain), and I began to feel a little worried, but I wasn't going to let it put me in a tailspin. Positive thinking can do wonders when dealing with weird stuff.

In fact, I felt pretty good that morning and got all bundled up to go out disc golfing at Tendick (a disc golf course in WI). I even went so far as to enjoy a Baltic Porter from a local brewery (Silver Creek in WI) after we finished the round. The beer was okay, but the taste  was extremely muted. Normally, I consider that beer to be quite decent, so between the continued lack of taste and the facial paralysis/tingles, I knew something was not right and had plans to contact my doctor on Monday morning anyway.

Unfortunately, my body had other ideas. Saturday night (Jan 21), the pain in my neck and head returned with a strange sort of vengeance. It hurt, a lot. I felt like the right side of my face was going to explode. However, I needed to know where this pain was stemming from so I could give the doctor as much info as possible. Not only that, but I felt that if I knew where it stemmed from, I could get a better idea of what I was dealing with myself. Eventually that night, the pain sort of "settled" on the neck, head, and right side of my face with a loci behind/below my right ear.

There was something different about this pain though. It wasn't throbbing, but felt like the area was "burning," as if on fire. Okay, so by this point, I realized that this head pain could do some damage if I couldn't get it to calm down, not to mention drive me crazy. So, I began icing it down again, but not at 20 minute intervals like I was doing the night before, but constant - this was around 6pm Saturday night and I continued to ice it through the night (as long as I could control the position of the bottle of ice) and the next day.

By Sunday (Jan 22), I was feeling even more miserable and beginning to wonder what could be causing this. I was able to actually figure out from a Google search that it was possible I was suffering from Bell's Palsy - depending on the cause.

See, I've had Chicken Pox 3 times in my life: once in grade school and then again when I was in my 20s (early and late). Due to the fact that these later episodes came on the heels of vaccines for chicken pox, understanding how diseases like to mutate, the fact I worked in the daycare industry at the time, and considering how close in time those later two outbreaks were, I honestly believe (and still do) that I have come in contact with 3 different strains of the chicken pox. If a flu virus or other virus can mutate, why not chicken pox? That line of thinking always made sense to me. So, when I saw that one cause of Bell's Palsy could be the chicken pox (shingles) virus, I began to wonder if that was what I had.  

The morning of Jan 23rd, I called my primary care physician and left a message to fill him in on what happened over the course of the weekend. I saw him later that morning. While I managed to fill him in on as much as I thought relevant, I did leave out the part about the head hurt so much by this point that I forgot to mention it, plus I felt that I just wasn't being heard.

I honestly felt that I was suffering from a bad sinus infection/right ear infection because my right ear felt like it wanted to explode. He didn't seem concerned or anything. He just proscribed a low dose of prednisone (40mg to start, which is low when considering what many of the medical information out there says) and a barbiturate for the pain that other painkillers can't seem to touch. I even asked him, "Aren't you even concerned about the extreme pain by my ear? It really feels like my head is going to explode." (This may not be exact, but pretty close to what I actually said.) No, he wasn't. In fact, he told me to come back in about 3 weeks.

Three weeks! Um hello! If the pain in my ear continued, I was afraid I could be at risk to lose what little of my hearing I have left! Okay, I can hear, but I seem to have an awful lot of trouble understanding and hearing people due to fluid and what not from my allergies, and I know several people who have had ear problems and lost their hearing in one ear because nothing was done in a timely manner.

So, in the parking lot of my primary care physician, I called the offices of the ear, nose and throat physician I had seen on previous occasions for sinus infections my primary care physician didn't really want to deal with. They got me in on Wednesday (Jan 25th) with the physician's assistant. They were going to delay that a week and have me see the man himself (Dr. Kandula), but my concern over the extreme pain in my ear and my strong feelings that a sinus infection could be behind all this helped them decide that coming in sooner could be to my benefit.

The blood tests my primary care doc took were negative. That means that the usual suspects he was testing for (Diabetes being one of them, and I am assuming the chicken pox virus being one as well) were not the cause. I ended up getting an MRI on Thursday (Jan 26th).

Luckily for me, the MRI results didn't show anything bad, which is a good thing.

So, what did the specialist/physician's assistant proscribe?

A higher dose of prednisone (than what my primary care physician, which was a 40mg taper) - a 60mg taper (60mg for 3 days, 40mg for 3 days and 20mg for 3 days) - as well as 10 days of amoxicillin.

See Part 2 for more info on how my recovery is going so far.


Anonymous said...

uh oh?!? Where is part 2? My daughter is going through this and having similar issues. Would really like to hear the continuation....

shumaila awan said...

i also intrested to another part of this neck pain story.....

Jeanne Padilla said...

Did your physicians ever diagnose what really was causing all those symptoms? The thing that comes to mind with those symptoms is either heavy metal poisoning or that you were exposed to an environment that has mold. If it is either of the two, you can easily remedy the situation by removing these things from your home or workplace, then just continue with prednisone for the sinus and ear problems until your physician tells you to stop taking it. Hopefully this was solved a long time ago and you’re living a healthy life now.

jaspreet singh said...

lower back pain is the most common problem in this era so better don't ignore this.

Naturalherbs Solutions said...

If you are feeling a portion of the indications, then you ought to visit your specialist. He or she will give you the right therapeutic treatment. Also there are numerous Bell’s Palsy Natural Treatment that you can use as treatment.

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