Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mirgaines... and another option that isn't going to work out...

Ugh. As those of you who regularly read my blog know, I've been having a bit of a problem with migraines recently. I've been trying not to dwell on it too much, and have been going to the local clinic to try and figure things out (between two and four migraines a week is just not fun!), but the new symptom that popped up last week really had me panicked.

A few days ago I was sitting downstairs holding Maggie when the right side of my face went completely numb. Paul was upstairs putting Sadie to bed, and she was having a tough time, and I sat there panicking, afraid that I was having a stroke and trying to remember if I'd ever heard of migraines causing numbness (these days weird symptoms have me thinking "migraine?").

While I was pretty determined to avoid taking medication originally, between the vertigo and lightheadedness and the numbness (and the skull crushing migraines themselves), I finally caved in and began taking propanolol today. Propanolol is usually a blood pressure medicine, but apparently it's also used for migraines because beta-blockers are supposed to work wonders on migraine sufferers. It was the only medicine that the pharmacist could come up with that was okay for someone who was breastfeeding, that wouldn't risk drying up my milk supply.

I was a little nervous about starting it. After all my blood pressure hoovers at around 96 over 58... so I wasn't sure that taking a medicine designed to lower it further was a great idea. I mean, even when I was in labor my blood pressure was that low (and I've noticed when it dips even a tiny bit lower than average I would get sick).

I took the first pill this morning. Within an hour I was feeling dizzy and lightheaded. Paul explained that when he picked the prescription up the pharmacist said there was a small chance I'd get lightheaded, but that that should go away with time. The pharmacist also said that it would take some time to build up to doing any sort of exercise. However, when the dizziness started I wasn't exercising. I was sitting in the car working on some needlework as Paul drove.

Hour two made my lips feel numb. By the afternoon I was nauseous, dizzy, and lightheaded, with numb lips (but hey, at least I didn't have a headache and my face wasn't numb!).

I decided to give it a few more days and see if there was any change. And then I sat down to write this blog post. I decided to google propranolol. As I read about it each site with drug information made a point of saying that this drug was not recommended for breastfeeding mothers and could harm infants.

So two things have me pretty upset right now. 1) Maggie was sick and colicky today, for the first time in her entire life. She's usually such a happy, laid back baby. Today she cried (huge, miserable tears) for most of the afternoon. I didn't even put two and two together and suspect the drug, because it was supposed to be "safe." I figured that her stomach was upset from being in the car for so long (we drove to a fair over by the coast with Nani and Grumpa). Long car rides used to make Sadie colicky, so that was the first thing that popped into my mind. And 2) Before writing this post and doing my research I took the second dose of the drug. And Maggie is going to be very hungry in a couple of hours...

Thus the decision to stop taking the propanolol is pretty easy. It made me feel pretty sick and there's a chance it made Maggie feel sick too. The second part of that sentence is enough for me to make the decision to tough out the headaches.

Besides, taking a drug that makes me feel sick all of the time, so that I don't have headaches half of the time, doesn't make a lot of sense... Hopefully these post-pregnancy hormones level off soon and I go back to once monthly migraines. Who knew that one or two migraines a month would ever feel like a nice number that I could easily deal with?


  1. I've heard of tricyclic antidepressants like zoloft (which is safe while breastfeeding) being very useful in preventing migraines. You might try googling it?

  2. Have you had a full workup for migraines? MRI & an eye exam comes to mind.

  3. I wouldn't panic too badly about the numb face. It happens to me a lot, and I talked to several doctors (because I also thought I was having a stroke!) and they said I was having an allergic reaction to something.

    I hope you feel better, taking care of two little girls with a migraine would be really hard! Praying for you! :)

  4. Have you ever heard of Migraine with Aura or "Ocular migraines?" I get them, and the symptoms are weird vision changes, numbness in face or hands, not being able to speak, etc. The first time I had them, I was CONVINCED I was having a stroke. I rarely ever get headaches, but I have definitely had the headache part while being pregnant. Neuro says it is most likely due to hormonal changes (being pregnant). I'm sure with all the hormonal changes you're going through, too, it wouldn't be surprising if you had these particular types of migraines...? Something to check out? Good luck!

  5. According to Hale's Medications and Mother's Milk Propanolol is a drug that is usually compatible with breastfeeding because it doesn't reach high levels in either maternal plasma or the milk. Of the beta blockers it is considered the preferred drug for breastfeeding women. However, he goes on to say that there haven't been any studies of long term exposure and that mothers whose babies are subject to asthma should not use it at all.

    It doesn't sound like the drug should have affected Maggie since she isn't asthmatic. I suspect her colicky behavior was more age related than drug related.

    I do hope you're able to find something that actually gives you some relief. I had a few migraines myself when I was in college, so I know how debilitating they can be. Both of my SIL's had them until they hit menopause. Have you looked into dietary changes or other non-medicine approaches? I know that both of my SIL's had some foods that were definite triggers (onions, chocolate, aged cheeses being among them).

  6. Hi Anon- They were going to try amitriptyln (I know that's not spelled right!), which used to work for my migraines, but then said that there was a good chance it would dry up my milk...

    Hi Cliff- So far they just did the eye tests with the light... I think since we're state health insurance getting more than that is going to be tough.

    Hi Jamie- Thanks for the prayers!

    Hi Delena- Thanks! I've noticed that all the symptoms seem pretty typical when I google them. And I'm just hoping they are hormonal and work themselves out.

    Hi Liz- I gasped when I saw your post, because yesterday when all of this was going on, I told Paul that I was worried that Maggie is asthmatic (Paul is). About mid afternoon, she started having trouble breathing. At first I thought it was because she was crying os hard, but then it turned into this really frightening wheezing like air wasn't getting in or out. It didn't last very long, and since it hasn't happened again we thought we'd wait until her doctor's appointment (day after tomorrow, we're out of town right now). Hopefully it is just the colic, but it was something we were wondering about yesterday.

    So far we haven't been able to figure out the triggers, although they definitely seem to be food related a lot of the time (stress related other times). Once it was sushi, once a chicken buritto, once a candy bar. All the triggers are so different that we haven't been able to see a pattern, but I am planning on starting a food journal, so hopefully that will help us see what's going on.

  7. Definitely do a food journal! My youngest sister had horrible migraines for the first 3 years of her life until my mom figured out she was allergic to apples...not a common food trigger, but easily removed from her diet once we found out. I pray that you can figure it out soon and that it's something that can be easily removed from your diet.

  8. I agree with Elizabeth. I find that I can't eat anything with a heavy amount of cinnamon in it like pumpkin pie. For some odd reason that triggers a migraine.

    And my brother would also get really wired as a child when he had anything with a red dye in it like coolaid or hot dogs. My mom would have to check labels a lot.


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