Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A patient, for now

One day I will be a doctor. For now, I am a patient.

And, good doctor, my head hurts.

D(x): Migraines. Ones that don't respond to the usual medication regimen. I can pop midrin like candy, to no avail. Imitrex might as well be a sugar pill.

R(x): 100 mg of Topamax every day (a very expensive drug recently made available as the generic topiramate). Topamax is very effective when it comes to migraine prophylaxis, at least in my case. I still get a headache here and there, but nothing a quickly dispensed dose of fioricet can't handle. This has worked for the last couple of years.

Problem is, Topamax is (in some circles) also referred to as "dopamax." It makes you (well, me) sleepy. Case in point: when I was on 200 mg of Topamax (twice the dose I'm on now), I fell asleep at a Neil Young concert. No, I'm not kidding. I only wish I were. Those tickets set Geoff and me back at least $100 apiece. The 100 mg dose is better, but in recent months I've found myself nodding off at inconvenient times and craving a nap every few hours. Which is not particularly helpful when I'm trying to prepare for a calculus placement exam in the next few weeks. Especially given that I've had 10 years to forget all the calculus I ever learned, so need all the brainpower I can muster to reteach myself how to find a function's asymptotes, take the derivative of an equation, and all that related jollity I will need for physics come this fall.

Per doctor's orders, I've cut my Topamax dose, but now I'm getting migraines again (waking up at 2 a.m. with a screeching headache is not an acceptable trade-off for foregoing daytime naps). Clearly, I've run into an all-too-common patient problem: the cure for my problem is worse than the disease (or at least, it's a toss-up).

Thankfully, the doctor who is managing my migraines is very sensitive to side effects. Once she heard about how exhausted I'd been, she immediately drew up a potential list of alternative medications, ones that wouldn't make me sleepy. And I'm confident that once she hears about the return of the headaches, she'll help me find the best alternative for my particular situation.

Her responsiveness, compassion, and "let's-work-together" attitude - in both this situation, and in others - are traits I want to emulate when I become a physician.  

No comments:

Post a Comment