Monday, March 09, 2009

02/28/09 - Headaches

Updated blog title to contain actual date of Emergency Room admission. This will hopefully prevent some confusion, or allow more immediate access to this post if anyone wants it...

I've been posting about a week after-the-fact. Hopefully, I will decrease that delay in the near future. Back to headaches... On Saturday, February 28th, I was cleaning my office in the morning. Around 11AM, I told Laura I was going to lay down. Not unusual, although if I do fall asleep(nap), it is usually later in the afternoon.

I guess I wasn't feeling great, and I was hoping to sleep it off. Laura came in, likely to see if I was going to eat lunch. I said a few things to her, but she couldn't understand me. I tried to repeat myself, but I apparently continued to "mumble."

By that time, I also had a very bad headache. I was still trying to sleep the symptoms away, but they continued to persist and even worsen. To make a long story short(er), Laura ended-up calling my father, and they both took me to a nearby Emergency Room. After a while, they gave me pain medication, dilaudid, a form of synthetic morphine, to alleviate my headache. Morphine? If you click on dilaudid, you'll see the Wikipedia entry for it. Some of the words mentioned include Heroin. I guess my headache was severe...

Late on Saturday, I was given a CAT scan, but it didn't identify anything as being wrong. So, the hospital planned-on taking an MRI of my head, to see if it could determine any problems. Note that the hospital that normally treats my cancer does not have an emergency room, so I had to go to one that doesn't specifically treat cancer, and was unfamiliar with my medical history.

Picture of me in hospital bed (Monday,3/2/09)

So, I was admitted to the hospital on Saturday, having no apparent cause for my headaches or other disorientation symptoms. That meant I had a private room and a bed. After another dose of dilaudid, I slept very well (not surprisingly) Saturday night.

I was in the hospital until Tuesday, when I was discharged at about 2:00PM. Most of that time, I was in my hospital bed. The MRI was administered on Monday, but it detected nothing wrong as well. In fact, they never detected any cause... likely because they weren't familiar with my recent previous medical history.

When I was in the hospital on Monday, Laura called my Neuro-Oncologist, and he said that the cause of the headache was likely my Intrathecal Chemotherapy, which I'm scheduled to receive again tomorrow, 3/10/09. I'm also scheduled to get MRI's of my head and spine. Knowing this apponment was already scheduled at my cancer hospital gave me some relief from my Emergency Room visit.

How could Intrathecal Chemotherapy be the potential cause of my symptoms? I'm not an expert, but here's a couple of potential causes. First, my level of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) could be off - spinal taps (lumbar punctures) can cause the same thing, and severe headaches. Secondly, the chemotherapy drug may have caused more inflammation in my brain than expected. I suspect that because when Laura spoke to my neuro-oncologist, he said that he may increase my dosage of steroids so that it lasts 10 days instead of the usual 5 days around my Intrathecal Chemotherapy. I should be able to confirm this tomorrow...

As far as the headaches go, I was prescribed a preventative medicine (gabapentin), but I haven't been taking it, because I don't think it prevents the negative symptoms well enough. This is another item that I'll confirm with my oncologist. Yes, I can still feel the headaches coming on, but it seems like I've been able to prevent them from getting worse by not trying not to think about them...


Blogger David Galloway said...

Mark, I hope that the headaches get better. And you better be careful posting about Dilaudid - all of the junkies just flagged you. Didn't you ever see Drugstore Cowboy? ;-)

3/09/2009 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what the problem is: your brain is simply too large for its enclosure. 8-)

Hope that the appointment today goes well, Mark.


3/10/2009 8:45 AM  
Blogger Big Monkey said...


You're making his head swell even more...

3/10/2009 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I heard beer gets rid of headaches.....

Hope you are feeling better brother.


3/22/2009 8:58 AM  
Blogger Mark said...


Never did see Drugstore Cowboy. I must be a junkie now... :)


3/29/2009 4:35 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


Yes, I wish a six-pack would do it...


3/29/2009 4:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home