white tablets = paracetamol – red capsules = ibuprofen – orange tablets = aspirin
As someone who has suffered from Migraines for as long as I can recall, it is super important to me that I have a good pain management plan..
When I was younger it was actually easier to get the stronger drugs like Panadeine Forte than it is now. Because of that ease I would tend to default to the strongest drug I had as soon as I got the headache. These days, there are two problems with the plan of take the strongest drug I happen to own.
1. The more often you take a strong drug, the less effective it tends to be.
2. I want to save those now more difficult to get stronger drugs for occasions when I truly need them.
Nowadays, if I take two Panadeine Forte, within about 30 minutes, I can’t feel my head, arms or legs at all. It is like I am a torso floating on a fluffy cloud. That state of being is not especially conducive to getting shiznit done. :) But it does certainly get rid of the headache quite effectively.
Believe me, actually trying to do anything in that torso floating on a cloud state will result in An Incident Occuring. It is bad enough trying to coordinate a walk to the bathroom, let alone doing anything useful.
My doctor and I sat down a couple of years ago to work out a new plan, and I was surprised to find out that this plan works for me. Here’s what I do now when I feel a headache coming on.
I begin by taking paracetamol and ibuprofen together but it *must* be taken with a cup of strong tea (two teabags of Australian Afternoon) or coffee, and a block of dark chocolate. I like 70% plus and find it to be more effective.
Chocolate always makes me feel better but the caffeine in the tea or coffee and chocolate helps the drugs to work faster. That is why they sell panadol with caffeine though it is obscenely expensive at around $8.99 for 40 tablets so I prefer to keep that purely for my handbag and emergencies when I could not get a cup of caffeine to go with my tablets.
If it feels like it is going to be a bad headache I will take three kinds of tablets together – paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin but I usually take the paracetamol first with coffee/tea and make sure to have eaten at least a bowl of cereal before taking the other drugs. This is because two of the three drugs are not good on an empty stomach.
I can tell the difference between a headache that requires two drugs vs one that requires three drugs. The worst headache I tend to get is a hormone related migraine and that is always a three drug headache. Those headaches always appear on a specific day and so I know approximately when to expect them.
Three drug headaches are usually once a month happenings at most and they start from the moment I wake up, which is the reason for the cereal.
I’ll then wait to see what happens – if the headache goes away, epic win. If not, it is time for..
If the headache does not go away, I need to start thinking about what might be causing it. The two main causes for me are sinus and hormones. If it is sinus, I might try a couple of cold and flu tablets next but I need to wait at least 4 hours as those have paracetamol in them as well as pseudo-ephedrine and codeine phosphate.
If it is hormones, then it is time to bring out the big guns – I have 3 choices at this point.
1. A headache tablet with some codeine phosphate eg Nurofen Plus or Mersyndol Forte. This will be the choice if the headache is not too bad. However if we have got to this point chances are the headache is pretty bad and these drugs won’t help much.
2. Panadeine Forte which is paracetamol with a stronger codeine phosphate. Taking this drug means it is bedtime, at least for a couple of hours, because it does tend to knock me out or at least make me feel like I am floating with no arms and legs attached.
3. A Maxalt Wafer. These are not cheap at $11 per wafer. However they do work fast and if I am feeling any nausea this is a good option because it melts under the tongue and I don’t have to worry about keeping the drugs I took down. These do work very well for me, but they are a last resort due to their price tag.
Getting to this stage is pretty rare but it does happen from time to time – if a headache is not resolved by stages one and two, then I need to get a shot from a doctor or to head off to hospital. It has been a long time since this stage was needed thanks to the careful pain planning my doctor and I worked out together. :)
When I was growing up, from age 15-17 I had nausea and dizziness on a daily basis for a couple of years. It was dreadful and we are still not sure what caused that, though there is a suspicion it may have been hormonal. I lived on Stemetil for those two years which is an anti-nausea drug.
Now the drug of choice for nausea is Maxolon. It is rare that I have to use them now. In fact it has been a couple of years since I last got a script for it, but I just used up my last tablet and I have a doctors appointment this week, so I will be asking for a new script.
Have you ever had a kaleidoscope appear in your field of vision? I have. It is Not Optimal at all. It makes it impossible to read, drive, watch tv, basically, to see in general. These are called an Ocular Migraine – once again we have zero idea what causes this for me.
About 45 minutes after the kaleidoscope arrives, the headache sets in. And this is a terrible headache, a Panadeine Forte right off the bat headache.
However, the happy news is, after many experiences and trying out different things I have made a discovery. If I take paracetamol and ibuprofen with coffee or tea and chocolate at the moment the kaleidoscope appears, the headache does not arrive anymore. I have to go and lie down with a flannel over my eyes until the kaleidoscope goes away, but that is nothing compared to having to suffer through the headache that would always arrive.
Over to you –
How do you manage pain?
Do you suffer from migraines at all?