Botox treatments have been (in some shape or fashion) a part of my migraine experience since 2003. At that time, the neurology field was conducting trials of using botox as a migraine treatment. My neurologist wanted to put me into the trials due to the frequency and severity of the migraines I experienced. I refused; I felt very uncomfortable about having poison injected into my muscles to relieve the constant migraines. Thus, I continued to rotate through different preventative medications, cranial sacral massages, yoga classes, chiropractic adjustments, regular massages, magnesium IV drips, dietary changes, pretty much everything (except acupuncture-which I would still like to try). As the years passed and the FDA approved botox treatments for migraines, I read some scary reviews on the internet by people who had bad experiences; which only served to make me feel more afraid of the treatment.
Then, in 2011, I took a long look at the amount of triptan/pain/rescue medications that I was taking (on average) 5 out of 7 days a week. I started reviewing the migraine calendars that I have kept since the 1990’s. Yes, it is true, I have been keeping migraine charts since ~ 1998….that would be about 16 years of data now. I digress…back to topic, I started reading the charts and thinking about rebound headaches (which are now called “MOH” Medication Overuse Headaches). In addition, I started thinking about the side effects of taking so much “releif” medicine on a nearly daily basis. By this point, there were substantially more positive than negative reviews written by people who use botox treatment for migraines. I decided to give it a try. And…it worked! I stayed on a low dose of a preventative medication and added the botox treatments every 3 months. The frequency and severity of the migraines were cut by 75-80%. Life was livable again! I could even drink alcohol and eat at a restaurant without ending up with a 9/10 pain level migraine.
I learned that the botox works it’s best the first month and then slowly it’s effectiveness decreases as you move toward the 3rd month. For me, it has been a God-send.
That being said, our recent move bumped me off of my treatment schedule. It has been nearly 5 months and a glance at my current migraine chart will reveal the vicious severity and frequency the migraines had returned to…until…last week. Last week the migraines stopped, almost completely. Yes, that is what I typed and will repeat, the migraines stopped, almost completely over the past week. The timing could not be more ironic as last week, I came down with a virus accompanied by fever, swollen lymph nodes, and overall miserable feelings. Botox treatment is not recommended when a person has a fever or active infection.
Thus, I cancelled the treatment appointment that I had been living for over the past 6 weeks. I was honestly too sick to re-schedule (the coveted appointment). I am inching toward recovery from this virus and I suspect that by Monday I will feel well enough to call and reschedule the appointment.
However, after living in a state of complete desperation to get the treatment which is now 2 months overdue, I am suddenly in a very unexpected quandary. The migraines are almost non-existent. Even more unbelievable is that the migraines diminished when all odds have been against me. I had the following triggers last week: Virus with fever, menstruation, irregular sleep due to virus, and the weather has been crazy with storms. Usually my menstrual cycle will trigger 9/10 pain level migraines with nausea and days in a dark room. Today, I had a small hint of a headache that disappeared with a cup of coffee and 325 mg of Tylenol. A few days ago, I had a 5/10 pain level migraine and it also went away with coffee and Tylenol.
This is coming after a series of headaches that lasted 26/30 days. So you can see why I am surprised.
The thing I am doing differently: I have been taking Petadolex for a month. Petadolex is a form of butterbur that has not been prepared with pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA’s). Basically, Petadolex is the butterbur that does not have the liver complicating PA’s.
A couple of years ago I had one of the best neurologists I have ever had. Ironically she had been a medical student at a large hospital where I worked back in my 20’s; she and I had worked together ~15 years prior to her seeing me as a patient. She and I realized half-way through my first appointment that we shared that history. Again, I digress…back on topic, she is a fabulous neurologist and she had a really good grasp on the medications I currently take (2 types of chemotherapy daily, plus a few others…and then add the migraine meds). She had a wonderful understanding of the fragility of my medical history and she worked with me to find a way out of the migraines while protecting my organs and allowing my other meds to work (those chemo meds are life-saving for me, so I need them to work). She is the doctor who got me onto my current migraine prevenative medication and she also gave me a great education re: the way that the botox treatment works. She gave me samples of Petadolex but was not at all surprised that the herb did nothing to decrease the migraines. At that time, the migraines were enormous, daily, and I was way over-medicated. Since then, I have stopped drinking caffeine daily (sometimes I still use it to stop a headache), I stopped using Excedrin Migraine, I transitioned to a less stressful job, and I stopped taking so many triptans/pain/rescue meds. It has taken 2 years to make those changes, but I have successfully made them.
Since I have made so many changes toward a more migraine-friendly lifestyle over the past 2 years, I am thinking that maybe the Petadolex is now able to do it’s thing!? I have read that it can take up to 2-1/2 months for a person to have a full response to the Petadolex (I have been on it for 1 month) so I am hesitant, but hopeful, that it is working for me. And THAT would be wonderful.
As I am still getting over this virus, I am still running an occasional fever and my lymph nodes are still a little swollen. Thus, I won’t be getting Botox next week. When I call to reschedule, I am thinking that the soonest the doctor will give it to me would be in about 2 weeks. In a way, I am glad that the treatment has been postponed because if I can get by with the low dose preventative + 150 mg Petadolex I would really be thrilled. An herb that, overall, has minimal side effects vs. botox injections would be my choice. We shall see…maybe the timing of this (miserable) virus will be the very thing that God uses to give me a chance to find out if that Petadolex really does work for me.