Great Post on Topamax Alternative

As many of you know, I tried Topamax for a while back in 2008 with high hopes. Instead, of offering me relief, however, it turned me into a confused, emotionally unstable, skeleton. Now, there may be a new drug that offers an alternative to people for whom Topamax should work but doesn’t, and for whom the side effects make it unpleasant to take.

According to James at Headache and Migraine News, the drug study targeted people who had mild reactions to Topamax and didn’t see the improvements they and their doctors expected to see. This means that it probably wouldn’t be much help for me, seeing as my reactions to the drug were anything but mild. However, this may be of interest to some of you.

Read James’ full post here.

The Cheshire Cat

Living with a persistent throb becomes easier with time. It hurts more some days – less others – but it becomes easier to ignore as the days go by. The persistent, yet rather dull (2.5 on a good day, 3.5 on a not-so-good) throb is easy. The sound of pulsating blood even begins to feel a little comforting after a while. Though annoying, the persistency I can handle – it’s the spikes that get me.

When they’re short, steady, or slow; I can manage. Armed with my mixture of peppermint and lavender oil and some deep, yoga inhale/exhale style breathing, the peak of migraine fury will only throw me off a few mere moments.

But, when they show up like a cheshire cat carrying a bag of tricks containing dizzy spells, sliding ceilings, hot flashes, ice pick stabs of severe pain, odd smells, baskets that grow disproportional sides, and strange sensations of being larger than the houses one is driving past – I must admit my small arsenal is no match.

Luckily, this not only severe but also makes-you-wonder-if-you’re-nuts type of pain has lessened due to my medication. Rather than three or four times a day, I only see the Cheshire Cat about 5 or 6 times a week. That’s progress.

I did, however, find myself standing over the bathroom sink this morning asking myself if I had already brushed my teeth. Now, that, my friends, is Topamax. 🙂




Down the Rabbit Hole

I took my first dose of meds last night. 2.5mg Frova and 25mg Topamax. For the first hour or so, all was well. Then, out of nowhere – things got weird.

Over the course of about five minutes, I went from being cuddly and loving with my boyfriend to being irritated every time he touched me. At first, I didn’t think much of this as I’m not known for being the most affectionate person in the bunch. But, when a bout of anger and frustration ended with a shout and a thrown remote – totally out of character for me – I had to take notice.

My S.O., pissed at my behavior, went to sleep in the other room. I couldn’t sleep. I felt jittery, wired but all I wanted to do was cry. Twenty minutes swept by as I sat bawling on the stairs with horrible, depressing thoughts running circles through my head. Once I finally convinced myself to get off the stairs (yes, I actually entertained the thought of sitting there, crying, until morning,) I went to bed.

Still unable to sleep, I dashed off a letter apologizing for my bizarre behavior and left it upstairs where it would be found in the morning.

Finally, about 1:30am I fell asleep.

I took another Frova this morning. Aside from a persistent headache (it isn’t helping with the migraines, yet) and a little dopey feeling, it doesn’t affect me much. Thus, last night’s behavior must be attributed to the Topamax.

Side effects mentioned in the information packet and by my Doc included: weight loss, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, numbness and tingling, and taste changes. Nothing was said about mood swings, aggression, or depression.

It wasn’t until I began researching other patients’s stories this morning, that I found out the disturbing truth. While almost all patients reported a significant decrease in migraine headaches, common serious side effects were complete loss of sex drive, aggression, severe mood swings and depression, suicidal tendencies, hair loss, and inability to sleep. None of these sounds like a good replacement for the pain of migraines.

Still – I have to wonder – could one pill have made such a drastic impression on me in such a short time?

My next dose is tonight. I’m wary but I now know what to watch for. If this continues for even just a few more nights – back to the doc I go.


Yesterday, after a month of back-and-forth with my PCP, I finally got in to see a neurologist. No surprises. Diagnosis? Migraines.

After an hour-long examination/discussion I left with prescriptions for Frova, Topamax, Axert, and Phenergan.

The first, a triptan migraine pain reliever to be taken two times a day for five days in an attempt to “break the migraine cycle.”

The second, a preventive medication originally used as an anti-epilepsy drug. 25 mg nightly for one week, then one pill twice a day, then one in the morning and two a night, working my way up to two pills twice a day. If well tolerated, the idea is to go to one 50mg pill twice daily.

Axert is another triptan migraine pain reliever. Like the Frova, it is meant to “abort” the migraine if taken within the first hour of an attack. This is to be used after the five days of Frova, if the migraines continue.

The final medicine, Phenergan, is an anti-nausea medicine. According to Dr. Howard, it is to be used “in the case of severe, incapacitating migraine.” I can only think this is due to it’s use as a sedative. Can’t beat the pain? Knock yourself out.

Armed with instructions, samples, and my prescriptions – I exit.