Being a Human Barometer and Pain Management in Pregnancy

On Friday night, I told my mum it was going to rain. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen in any direction, and the weekend forecast was calling for clear skies through until Monday. My mum believed me without question, as she always does, because I work like a human barometer. My head, and my migraine disease, were telling me that something was coming and that it probably wasn’t going to be pleasant.

Later that night, the pain was starting to get worse, and I knew that if there weren’t clouds yet, there soon would be. When I work up, the sky was completely grey, and certain parts of the city had already gotten their showers. I was sure my parents were thrilled, if not surprised, that my prediction had come true. After all, there was yard work to be done and rain is not usually conducive to that sort of thing.

Luckily, the actually precipitation didn’t last long, and the wind that came with it was intermittent at best. I wasn’t great for most of Saturday, but I did manage to help out in the yard some before completely crashing for the rest of the weekend. Sunday was miserable and today wasn’t much better. Obviously, there has been an improvement this evening, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this, and I’m hopeful that this are going to keep improving.

As handy as it can be sometimes, I don’t really like being able to tell what they weather is going to do. It may seem like a special power, but anyone who has a chronic pain issue that is effected by changed in barometric pressure will tell you it stinks. Yes, you know that the weather is going to do something different than what was forecast, but you also know that you’re probably in for a world of hurt. I know people with fibromyalgia, lupus, migraines and arthritis who get some serious goings on when the weather starts going wacky. Windstorms? No thank you. Thunder? It may be beautiful to listen to and to watch, but I’m rarely feeling well enough to enjoy it. I would much rather have a nice, steady temperature with a gentle breeze and gradually introduced light showers. That would suit me (and my head) perfectly.

Now that I’m pregnant, managing the pain that comes along with these weather induced migraines (or any migraines for that matter) is a nightmare. Most of the things I used to be able to do are no longer safe because of my baby. Yes, I do need to weigh the risk versus the benefit (which is why I caved and took a single Excedrin Migraine this afternoon), but most of the things I used to rely on are no longer an option.

For example, I have a prescription for IM Toridol (or Toridol that is injected in to the muscle, usually in the thigh if I’m doing it myself, or the hip if someone is doing it for me). Because this is classified as an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and can cause blood thinning and an increased risk of bleeding, it’s a no no in pregnancy, especially in the early and later stages. This also means that ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and ASA (Aspirin) are also out.

So why did I take the Excedrin Migraine? It does have 250 mg of Aspirin combined with 250 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and caffiend to speed absorption, and Aspirin is on the no-go list. Up until that point, nothing had really been working. I haven’t had any bleeding or complications with my pregnancy so far, and the benefit of being without pain (which would drescrease my blood pressure and allow me to get a better quality of sleep) out weighed the risk of taking such a small amount, one time.

I have been taking straight Tylenol and Tylenol with codeine (T3), but the straight Tylenol wasn’t doing anything any more and I ran out of T3 pills. Plus, codeine is not something that should be over used in pregnancy, although it is relatively safe. (I do need to stress, at this point, that you should never take any medication, especially when you’re pregnant, without talking to your doctor. The internet is not a reliable source of medical advice or info, ever. Anything that I say here has been okay’d for me personally by my team of doctors, and may not be the right thing for you to do. I am not giving medical or medication advice on any level, and nothing I write here should be taken as cannon without consulting a physician.)

In addition to any pain medication, I also have maxoran IM that I can use for nausea, but this isn’t something that should be over-used in pregnancy either. However, if I can’t keep either my Gravol or my Diclectin down, maxoran is the way to do. This, combined with some IV fluids, alternating heat and cold on the effected side of my head, small, light meals and a touch of fresh air have done wonders today.

I am, however, looking for more reliable ways to manage my pain. I’m only coming up on week 14 of my pregnancy, and I need some things that are going to work and be sustainable for the long haul. My next OB appointment is this coming Thursday, and the local women’s hospital has a great obstetric medicine department what specializes in helping pregnant women (and women trying to conceive) to manage their medications. I think it would be a great idea for me to try to get a referral so I have someone who is versed, not only in pregnancy, but also in complications and contra-indications with meds during this time, in my corner. I already have an amazing team of doctors that I can turn to, but having another one is never a bad thing.

The most frustrating thing about all this has been having relief on hand, and not being able to use it. There are combinations of over the counter medications that I know work 8 times out of 10, but I just can’t take them. I know that having a really hot bath or applying intense heat to my abdomen can calm a queasy stomach, but those two things are also out. I don’t think I really grasped how much things were going to change for me in the pain department after I got pregnant. I was feeling pretty good in the migraine department for the months leading up to our conception, so that’s probably one reason I never gave it much thought.

Having a chronic illness any time is hard, but I’m finding the challenges I’m facing while carrying my tiny human to be an extra struggle.

Who else has war stories battling chronic illness and pregnancy at the same time? How did you manage? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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