Good morning sir, my name is Sgt.____; I am currently deployed aboard the USS ___. My wife is in Michigan taking care of her sister who, for the last 10 years has been suffering from chronic cluster headaches. I am not well informed on this topic but I do know a sad case when I see one.
She has been treated in Michigan and in Ohio by multiple headache specialists and has been on very powerful narcotics to treat the pain. I’m not sure what has been done but I know she has had several surgeries and some kind of implant in her brain that is supposed to help. Nothing and I mean nothing has helped and she obviously feels like she doesn’t want to go on. The doctors seem to pass her around when they feel they have done everything. They have a passive aggressive attitude towards her and honestly don’t believe her about the pain she is in. I know she has been turned away as a "narcotic seeker" and she has to withdraw from these meds when they run out and then has no relief without them.
This past week she spent 5 of the seven days going to and from the emergency room. She is my age (34) and was at one time a vibrant beautiful woman with a bright future and now she has been torn down by an invisible creature that the other doctors don’t understand. I believe that this email is a last hope. She has a beautiful family (a young son and a husband that really loves her) but lately she has been asking my wife a lot of theological questions pertaining to suicide. We are both afraid that if she doesn’t find relief soon she will take her own life. She once worked for the University of Michigan and was enrolled for her Masters degree but had to drop out because of her illness. She spends most everyday in bed and in incredible pain. They are in financial trouble because of the bills and they have good health care coverage. I am not sure how much longer they can carry on.
Is there anything you can do or recommend? Is there a facility she can ask her doctors to refer her to? The doctors she has been seeing haven’t helped and when they realize they can’t help they just turn her away and stop taking her calls and seeing her as a patient. There must be some place either in the states or outside that can help. We are desperate. I apologize for such a long email and I am sure you are very busy but any help in this matter would be wonderful.
Dear Sgt. S.;
I really feel for the torment you are experiencing with regard to his sister-in-law is chronic headaches. I’m sure she has heard of the Michigan Head and Neurologic Institute in Ann Arbor. They treat (inpatient) patients with chronic headaches and are one of the very few inpatient programs in the country. Our own program is outpatient and very treatment intensive in terms of IV therapy. Cluster headaches are often very difficult to treat successfully to maintain some quality of life. I think the http://www.mymigraineconnection.com/ web site is an excellent source of information, particularly for regional headache experts. There's a link below to the directory of specialists.
I wish your sister-in-law well in seeking relief of her chronic debilitating headaches,
John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert
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About Ask the Clinician:
Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.
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© Teri Robert and J.C. Krusz, 2007.
Last updated March 2, 2008.
Published On: March 02, 2008