My Tourettes really didn’t cause me too many extra symptoms during my first pregnancy. This pregnancy, however, has already gotten more complicated, thanks to my tics.
What’s curious is that the tics haven’t been the main cause of this issue. Rather, they’ve affected a whole other area of my life far in an unexpected way.
I’ve been getting headaches on and off for the last six weeks with a growing intensity. They would usually start at the back of my head and work their way out. The strange part was that I could wake up and be perfectly fine, but as soon as I turned my head to the left, the pain would begin.
Now, I know that headaches can be expected during pregnancy, and as I’m well into my second trimester, I wasn’t surprised when they started. After they got to the point, however, where I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, or that I was waking up with them nearly every single day and then would be laid out for hours on the couch, I realized they were getting out of hand.
When I mentioned them to my OB, he told me the unfortunate news that most headache medicines are off-limits during pregnancy. He decided to put me on the muscle relaxant, Flexeril. The idea was to treat it like muscle spasms since the pain was starting when I would turn my head.
Unfortunately, Flexeril knocked me out. Literally, I would take it and sleep for hours. Then I would wake up only to fall asleep again a few hours later. It was a good thing my mother was visiting because constant sleep and a very active two-year-old don’t mix well.
At first, the Flexeril, despite its sedative-like side effects, seemed to work. I was taking half of a pill twice a day (1/3 of the dose prescribed), and I even had a day and a half without much pain. Unfortunately, however, the pain returned, and I knew I couldn’t take any more of the medication and properly care for my baby. So I called the nurse again.
When it was clear that the Flexeril wasn’t working, I called the doctor and went back for Round 2. Again, I was told that unfortunately, most migraine medicines are off the table for pregnant women.
There were two main options left for me. The one that seemed most likely to help, however, was the one that worried me the most.
Apparently, according to my doctor, a nurse, and multiple friends I’ve consulted, migraines are often battled best with caffeine. Unfortunately for me, tics and caffeine don’t mix well. I’ve written about it before, but for now, we’ll suffice it to say that one cup of coffee will make my tics spike and often set off an anxiety attack.
When I told my doctor how I react to caffeine, she decided (much to my relief) that treating the headaches with caffeine just wasn’t worth the cost. So we went with the last remaining option, Periactin.
Periactin is an antihistamine, and to be honest, the doctor said it might not work, but it was one of our last viable options until I have the baby. And as I did not intend to deal with headaches for the next twenty plus weeks, I agreed to try.
When I got home, however, I found that Periactin also puts people to sleep. Once again, I could only take 1/3 of the prescribed medication. And how is one supposed to get better when taking less than a half of the prescribed dose?
I felt like I was at my wit’s end. I needed to stay awake to keep my daughter safe and sound. (Leaving two-year-olds to their own devices is a very bad thing…) But the pain was overwhelming, and I needed to do something . . . anything to get rid of it.
I was told by many people how caffeine helped their headaches, and with pain like mine, I was desperate. But on the other hand, I also had the side effects of caffeine on my tics to think about. What was I going to do?
A thought struck me, much like a math equation:
Caffeine (+ energy) + Periactin (- energy) = ?
Would the two balance out? Would the one that catapulted my energy levels to new heights balance the one that sapped every ounce of strength I had left? There was only one way to find out.
A Cocktail of Solutions
After missing church this morning because of the pain, I decided to give it a go. My husband was at home to watch my daughter in case things went south, so I had little to lose.
Because I’m so sensitive to caffeine, my husband suggested having a cup of coffee that was half caf and half decaf. So I started up the coffee pot and got out my medicine.
And for the first time in a while, I took medicine and didn’t crash like a kid on America’s Funniest Home Videos. My headache went away, and I didn’t even have an anxiety attack! I was even able to do a round of cardio on my bike!
So far today, I’ve taken the medication and the coffee twice. And though I do feel a little like a bouncy puppy right now, I’m not in pain and I’m not having an anxiety attack. Will this last? I don’t know. But at least I can say I tried.
I’ve also been told by a number of people who suffer from migraines that applying peppermint essential oil to their necks helps with migraines. Unfortunately, many essential oils are not recommended during pregnancy.
That’s why I ordered an essential oil diffuser necklace. To be honest, I’m going to have to research before I use any essential oil even in the necklace.According to Livestrong.com’s article, ”
According to Livestrong.com’s article, “Peppermint Oil and Pregnancy,” “Medline Plus recommends avoiding any form of peppermint oil if you are pregnant.”
The Mayo Clinic article, “Essential Oils and Pregnancy,” however, finds no problem with peppermint oil during pregnancy, and says many women find its properties helpful in managing headaches and nausea. Still, the article does advise against using essential oils directly on the skin during pregnancy.
So what will I do? I’m going to talk to my doctor. I’m going to experiment (under my doctor’s guidance), and I’m going to keep in prayer that if it’s God’s will, I’ll be able to get rid of this pain for good. I’m not sure how this is going to end up, honestly, but I’ll keep you posted.
Have you struggled with complications from TS during your pregnancy? Have you experimented with essential oils? I’d love to hear what you have to share. Just leave a comment in the Comment Box below. And don’t forget, you can sign up for my newsletter for extra resources on neurological disorders, education, and spiritual encouragement. As always, thanks for reading!
Other posts you might enjoy: