Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hormones or sinuses?

Well, it's both.
I think.
Five years ago when all this really started becoming a problem, I remember a female friend about my age (41 then) saying something about declining hormone levels.
I didn't want to hear that.
I'm not ready to think about menopause.
But over the years, it's been there in the back of my mind, lurking.
So in December, when the pain was starting to interfere with my job and my life, I decided to go see my gynecologist.
We talked and she suggested I try birth control pills to help even out my hormones.
I left with a six month supply of Seasonale.
But then I started thinking about some of the questions she had asked me.
I'd been making all these assumptions about hormones, but when I considered the pattern of my headaches, it didn't make complete sense.
Sure, I usually got a headache or two or three around my period, but I also did the week after that and the week after that.
Was I overlooking the sinus aspect of it?
I had been taking Tylenol sinus medicine when I thought it might be sinus pain (sometime a tricky call) but it hadn't been working lately.
Maybe I needed to try something different.
So I went to the drugstore and looked around. I got some nasal spray for sinus pressure.
The next day (Dec. 31) when my head started to hurt right on schedule, I hit it with that.
The pain stopped, and I didn't have another headache for several days.
I noticed that the stuff said not to use it more than three days in a row (or something like that) so I picked up some pills for sinus pressure relief.
Those got me through last week with minimal amounts of pain.
So, the moral of the story is, don't let your fears blind you to your options.
But -- the hormones are still a factor.
My period started yesterday and with it came a nasty headache.
It started in slow, and I took a sinus pill even though I could tell right away it wasn't a sinus headache -- just wishful thinking, something I'm all too prone to fall into.
I took a nap, hoping I could head it off by relaxing.
There was no stopping it.
By nightfall, there it was.
Not the worst migraine, just bad enough to keep me in the house in my robe all day -- in bed most of the day.
I try to avoid taking the Relpax I've been prescribed because I know from past experience taking it too much leads to rebound headaches -- also, sometimes the Relpax makes me so tired and spaced out I end up just laying around in bed all day anyway.
When I was younger I never had a headache that lasted longer than a day, but in recent years that's changed.
So when I awoke at 5 a.m. and my head was still pounding, hoping to have a slightly more productive day Sunday than I did Saturday, I popped a Relpax.
I suppose it helped.
The pain dulled to a low-grade ache.
Anyway, I didn't mean to drone on this way. My point is, now I'm thinking about the hormonal aspect of it again.
But I'm leery of the Seasonale. So I got online and started doing some research. I promptly found a Web site with literally hundreds of posts from women on problems associated with Seasonale: excessive bleeding; severe cramps; weight gain; nausea; hair loss; sexual side effects; depression -- and migraine headaches!
Today would be the day I'm supposed to start the stuff if I'm going to, but now I'm scared.
I think I'm just going to have to wait another month and see how it goes.

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