Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On The Rebound

I need to share information that I have come by in a most alarming & very personal way.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women and Rebound Migraines

Until Yesterday, I had never heard of any such thing. Let me back up to last Wednesday so it'll make more sense.

Wednesday evening, I'm standing in my kitchen making tea; as I wait for the microwave to go off; suddenly I break out in a cold sweat; feel my chest tighten and I can't breathe. In just a few seconds, I am left on my knees on the kitchen floor trying to catch my breath. A normal person would have probably immediately sought help. Not me, I stood up; took some slow deep breaths and tried to calm myself down. I think I'm just stressed out from work so the next day (Thursday)I ask for and am given the following week off.

Friday at work after I eat my lunch sandwich; I start to feel as if I had eaten an entire turkey dinner with all the trimmings & had gone back for seconds. I can't breathe. I am still worried about this symptom but again just attribute it to stress and calm myself with the knowledge that I have a whole week off coming to sleep in and relax. Friday night to work off some of my stress I walk on my treadmill for an hour. It seemed to help. I could breathe deeply without any pain or tightness in my chest.

Saturday morning; my daughter leaves for her birthday weekend with her dad to the desert to go dirt bike & atv riding. By that evening, I've cleaned my entire house, vacuumed, dusted; cleaned my bedroom; done all my laundry, cleaned the kitchen. I realize I've done all this because I'm really secretly afraid that if something happens & the paramedics have to come I want my house clean at least. How sick is that?

That evening I'm online reading about menopause & symptoms & start reading how even a woman at 47 with no other indicators other than high cholesterol can still have heart attacks and the symptoms for women are different than in men. Many of them are not what I would consider even worth bothering over if you took them one at a time. Until I started reading them & realized that in the last couple days I was in fact having many of them. But I persisted in telling myself I was fine. I would just keep my cell in my pocket just in case. I didn't want to tell my daughter even as she was enjoying her birthday in the desert & I didn't want to worry anyone.

On Sunday after she came home I let her know I hadn't been feeling well and I needed her not to play her music loud in her room in case I needed to call her. Then after we ate dinner; while sitting in my rocking chair; I had the same episode that I had had in the kitchen. Now I was really starting to worry. But it was late; I didn't want to drag either of us to the ER for what would end up being several hours of waiting & multiple tests, etc. only to be told I would have to see my Dr. for further tests & evaluation on Monday. I was mad too because this was MY VACATION & I was adamant that I wasn't going to spend it working myself up in a panic over what was probably nothing. I know how this sounds & if you are thinking 'denial' you would be absolutely correct. I was terrified inside but all the information I read about heart attacks was that you didn't keep feeling pain as a constant over days so in that I took what solace I could but first thing Monday morning, I went to see my Dr.

Before I could even blink they were taking my blood pressure & it was sky high! They ushered me to a room & hooked me right up to the EKG machine, they called and scheduled the appointment for the cardiologist where I was to go the minute I left their office, and they recommended a CT scan & neurologist consult for my migraines.

Then my Dr. & I started talking about my headaches (because I had one right then too). I told her I was getting them more frequently lately, it seemed that we had our big rains & for a week I was taking a pill (100mg imitrex) per day, sometimes I'd take two a day. Then after 4 months of no menses cycle, I have one and that triggered a doosey of a migraine just last week, so I was back taking a least a pill a day. She asked me about the timing, we looked at a calendar together, in the 3 weeks prior to my visit that day I had taken over 1800.00mg of imitrex. She went to consult another Dr. in the office & came back 100% certain that I had in fact been having 'rebound' migraines from the meds themselves. AND, the side effects from that much sumatriptan in your system is guess what? yup, same as a heart attack & in some cases can even CAUSE you to have a heart attack. So now they were worried that I may have had one and the cardiologist was waiting for me to arrive for the stress test that would tell them if there was any damage to my heart. Needless to say, after arriving at his office my blood pressure was through the roof still because first I got lost finding his office and now I'm having to fill out forms that say things like, 'In the event of an emergency who do we contact for....' So I'm in his office filling out 19 forms & trembling with fear and I am alone. That morning I had told my daughter I was just going to the Dr.'s to get 'checked out' to make sure I'm fine. All the sudden it's SO SERIOUS and I'm thinking to myself this can't be happening. I mean sure, I'm fat & don't exercise like I should but I'm not obese, I don't have high blood pressure, no one in my immediate family has heart disease.

So I do my test and I will tell you that watching the ultrasound of my heart working and watching the red blood flow & then the blue blood was the cooooolest thing to see! I was then instructed to take all the stickie things off, get dressed & meet the Dr. back in his office. Turns out my heart is perfectly fine. There were no signs of damage from the medication and other than a gentle reminder that I need to get my cholesterol under control with medication & diet, he doesn't want to see me again until next year. *Why is it at this time I had the inner urge to say something like, "Look, I know I'm like 20 lbs up but dang! for like 5 years before this I was a size six & walked 3miles everyday, doesn't that count for something???"* sad isn't it?

What my Dr. explained to me about the migraine meds is this... When you feel a migraine coming on, take one pill; if your migraine persists, you may take one more. After that your migraine should be gone. If not, DO NOT continue to take more meds. At that point that medication isn't working for you & you need to try a different one. It doesn't tell you any of that on the insert or on the box! She said migraine medication should only be used once or possibly twice PER MONTH. That would have been 200mg in my case. But I was floating 1800.00mg in just a couple weeks!

The ironic part of all this is that while I'm waiting for my body to detox itself, I still am having low grade migraines (caused by the medication in my system) and because she doesn't want me taking any more migraine meds just yet, I have a script for Vicodin. And I don't just have one or two pills, the script was for 45! I'm trusting that I won't need anymore after today. I've been sleeping in, taking naps, taking it easy since yesterday's chaos and feel a bit better. So know I know, and I want you to know too. Be careful. We all matter!


  1. How scary! Thankfully you are okay and I hope if anything ever doesn't feel right in the future, you'll get to the Dr. right away! Thanks for the reminder to pay attention to any signs that something isn't right. Take care of yourself!

  2. Oh Stacy. My heart was in my mouth reading this. How incredibly scary. Thank you for telling us about this. I'm going to pass the link to fellow migraine sufferers. I am so relieved your heart is okay.
    Take care

  3. STACY!!! Omg, ma'am!! I've been there, too, but not that bad and generally not with Imitrex. The worst rebound headaches I had were with Vicodin, so take care - it's a narcotic and thus gives you a hangover the next day. Caffeine helps that.

    My order of medication is: caffeine, then if still headachy, Excedrin (with food) and then Imitrex if no results. Unless it's a hard, fast migraine, in which case I take the Imitrex and Compazine and go to bed if possible.

    Take care of yourself and let us know how you are doing!

  4. I am so glad you are (slowly) getting better. I'm also glad it wasn't a heart attack, especially as you took half a week to get to the doctor!

    Take better care of yourself. Tell your daughter what is going on, if you haven't already. And, at the risk of being a parrot, let us know how you are doing.


  5. Just a quick update. All is well, each day I'm doing better. I still have little 'blips' of slight headache; or a palpitation, but on the whole, I'm sleeping without pain, and don't need the vicodin. Thank you to everyone who's commented & those who've sent me private emails. I appreciate so much that all of you have shared your knowledge about this subject!

  6. *hugs*

    i'm glad it's all working out, that's scary.

  7. OMG - this is so totally scary! I get migraines too. I am SO glad that you are okay - but frightened that you did not take this seriously sooner - bad girl. please, please take care!

  8. Stace - found your post on your "event", heavens. You write so that I can hear you talk - thank you for sharing your story and for confiding your experience. Be well and chill


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