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[personal profile] kiyakotari
Life here has been a bit of a whirlwind. The medical stuff has been...rough. Looks like the tumor is benign, but the doctors suggest regular monitoring just in case it starts to unexpectedly do things. The neck has been getting better (My range of motion is now 100%!), and the neck pain is reduced to levels that are acceptable on better days, and manageable with OTC painkillers on bad days. The cervicogenic headaches have not been improving, and I just had my first appointment with my new neurologist.

See, the doctor that I've been seeing (the occupational health specialist who is overseeing my care) isn't used to dealing with headache issues. He's more accustomed to things like, "I destroyed my knees," and, "I have carpal tunnel from typing all day." When the headaches became a persistent problem (EG: I told him that I did not consider taking Vicodin and sleeping my day away whenever one of them hit to be an acceptable long-term solution), his answer was to try me on an off-label 10mg/day dose of nortriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant that is usually prescribed a doses of 50mg-100mg or so a day, but has been occasionally shown to help relieve nerve pain and pain from nerve damage at lower doses). I managed about a week and a half on that before giving up in disgust because of the side effects (information beyond that would be TMI, trust me). In that time, I actually had more vomit-inducing headaches than I had been having when I wasn't on the medication.

Have I mentioned that I hate off-label treatments?

The neurologist interviewed me, gave me an actual examination, and immediately put me on a regimen of Topamax (topiramate), folic acid, and magnesium. In addition, she has instructed me to take melatonin at night before I go to bed. She explained that I can expect some cognitive dampening effects (which will go away) as my body adjusts to the Topamax and as I step up the dosage (starting at 25mg/day, increasing to 75mg/day over the next three weeks), and that I'll probably discover that I don't like some of the foods I previously enjoyed, among other various possible side effects. She gave me a comprehensive list of the problems I should be on the lookout for, and told me to call her if any of them crop up or if it seems like I'm not experiencing the desired benefits (reduction in frequency/duration of headaches). She also said that some people become depressed when taking Topamax, and suggested adding Wellbutrin to the regimen to deal with that. I said I'd prefer to wait and see if it became a problem, rather than jumping the gun and taking it without knowing if I would even need it, and she agreed.

I like this neurologist a lot more than any of the doctors I've ever seen (except for possibly my old OBGYN - she was a hoot). Here's to hoping that the Topamax does the trick, or at least helps. That would make my life so much easier. As it is, I've been down 2-3 days a week (on average) with these headaches, and it's not fun. The fact that I can't predict them, or in any way control when I'm going to get one, is the biggest problem.

In other news, I think I've solved the bubble problem I was having with my eyes. I built a vacuum chamber (James helped with the hole-drilling I needed), and was very confused when my completely bubble-free resin seemed to spontaneously develop bubbles during it's curing process. Most sources online seemed to maintain that the bubbles were there in microscopic form despite the steps I had taken to remove them and my inability to find them with a flashlight and magnifying glass, and that they magically expanded when the resin hardened. Not satisfied with this explanation, I did some research on the actual chemical composition of polyurethane resins, and I learned some very interesting things. Notably, that curing the resin in areas where the humidity is too high or the temperature is too low will result in a change in the chemical reaction that causes the resin to harden, and will cause the resin to off-gas. While this off-gassing isn't a problem in the earlier stages of curing, once the viscosity of the resin has become high enough the gas being released will become trapped inside, which forms bubbles.

We happen to live in a humid climate, and the daily temperatures here are low from late October through the end of June, sometimes even into July.

A bit of research into localized humidity control methods and the judicious application of a space heater and I'm watching some test eyes (made with junk casts from cleaning my master molds) cure that appear to be almost entirely bubble-free. Since they were testers, I wasn't as careful with them as I usually would have been, and there are a few bubbles in them that I introduced myself. But there don't seem to be any spontaneous "magical" bubbles so far, which is a very good sign.

In other other news, I'm reading Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's The Grand Design, and thus far it is highly entertaining.
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Kiyakotari

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