Monday, December 21, 2015

Headache update

Last Saturday I went back to the neurologist for a checkup/prescription renewal. Since I was an existing patient I was able to call and make an appointment over the phone. Someone who speaks pretty good English at the information desk was able to set up an appointment for me on Saturday at noon. They also told me that the neurologist I had seen before wouldn't be there so I'd be seeing a different one, but this time there would be a translator.

So when Saturday rolled around Kris and I hopped on a bus and rode the 40 minute trip to Hachioji station. There were closer clinics but this one was the closest one that was listed as being "fluent" in English. Anyways, when we got there I walked up to the counter and handed them my patient ID card and told them I had an appointment. They gave me a waiting number and a room number- A1. We walked around the corner to the waiting area, which is a long, rectangular room with a ton of chairs and couches. The individual doctors offices all open to this waiting room and theres about 4 rooms for each of the four departments this clinic covers. A is apparently for neurology. Then we listed to hear my number called over the intercom (thank goodness I learned my numbers in Japanese). Finally I was called and we headed into A1. On the opposite side of the waiting room the doctors rooms open to the back office/nurses area and a translator came from back there to help during the appointment.

His English wasn't as good as the English teachers I work with, but it was good enough to get through the appointment. I told him that the Verapamil dosage I got last time was too low and it wasn't working. It was a third the dosage that I had successfully used to prevent the headaches in the US. They wanted to switch me to another medicine since the Verapamil wasn't working, so I told them I'd rather stay with this but up the dosage. Once again the doctor just went with whatever I asked, so I'm glad I knew what I was talking about. I wonder if they normally let people dictate their own treatment? Or maybe they just don't quite know how to handle cluster headaches, especially in foreigners. I asked if they had many cluster headache patients that they treated and they said no, but they might have some at the international hospital.

Anyways, so this time I paid about $5 for the appointment and we headed to the pharmacy. I got more of the Sumatriptan nasal spray (that stops the headaches when they start) and a higher dose of the Verapamil. They also gave me a bunch of this medicine thats normally used to reduce swelling after surgery or something major... I'm thinking maybe that was the alternate treatment they wanted to try. Maybe when it reduces swelling it has a side effect of preventing the headaches, since they are basically a swelling of blood vessels in the head. But since that medicine is hard on the stomach they gave me a second prescription for something that would protect my stomach... so stupid. I had to pay about $45 for all these stupid things, half of which I don't want and won't use. Bullshit. Oh well.

These pills should last me for another 22 days. I'm crossing my fingers that I won't need any more after that, but with my luck I'll have another month of headaches still to go. Since then I've had two headaches, but I haven't had any in the last 24 hours.

Hopefully that's the last you'll be hearing about the headaches for a while.


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