First, I must add that if you have any medical issues, please see your medical professionals for diagnosis and potential treatment. In my case, I had done that but still suffered, which prompted me to do my own research.
I am holding my breath in hopes that my headache and facial pain that began the day I got Covid-19’s Omicron on April 20, 2022 (15 months ago) may actually be resolving from a new treatment modality I started a week ago. In desperation, I have researched and researched, looking for answers.
In South Africa, Doc Theo first diagnosed it as trigeminal neuralgia, precipitated by the virus causing inflammation to the trigeminal nerve in my face and forehead. He was on the right track, but at the same time, I was suffering from severe allergies to pollen and dust in Marloth Park, which hadn’t ever been a problem in the past.
Thus, we considered it might be a sinus problem when I had such severe allergy symptoms simultaneously. It was tricky to pin down the exact cause. When I went to Dr. Singh, the high-tech dentist in Malelane, he did a full head scan and said my sinuses looked mildly inflamed but no more than anyone with allergies in the summer months. I was at a loss.
Doc Thei prescribed a drug that may work for trigeminal neuralgia, amitryptiline, an off-label use for the anti-seizure medication. I got relief from the pain after upping the dose. But, even taking it at night, I was exhausted during the day and could barely function, and I started gaining weight, which are common side effects of that drug. I had to stop taking it.
Months later, still suffering, Doc Theo suggested we try antibiotics, prednisone, and a strong prescription antihistamine. Within four days, I was symptom-free, but once the prednisone was tapered off, the pain returned with a vengeance. This was in early April. I stayed on the antihistamine since it gave me excellent allergy control, but the headache and facial pain continued.
Then, a week before we left Marloth Park to fly to Florida, I had a horrifying bout of Afib (which I’d never had since right after heart surgery in 2019 while still in hospital). I stayed in hospital for three days in ICU, having countless tests, none of which indicated any cause for the Afib. I left the hospital, and four days later, we began the long journey to the US to go to Florida to renew our passports.
The cardiologist prescribed a powerful drug that made me so sick I had to lie in bed for the first two days I was back in Marloth Park. I stopped the medication. I had to be functional to make the 35-hour journey to the US. The side effects wore off by the time we left, but I still had the headache and face pain.
On the 17-hour flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta, I had another Afib bout lasting six hours of pure hell. I was terrified if I told the flight attendant, they’d turn the plane around. Finally, it subsided, and I made it through the remainder of the flight without incident, although I still didn’t feel well, even after we arrived at the house in The Villages.
Once we got situated here, I went on a massive campaign to figure out why I’d had the two awful bouts of Afib. I researched the few remaining medications I’d been taking for years to see if they could cause the problem. But then, when I researched the antihistamine, Xyzal, and found this (and others) study here that reads:
“Xyzal and Atrial fibrillation/flutter – a phase IV clinical study of FDA data
Atrial fibrillation/flutter is found among people who take Xyzal, especially for people who are female, 60+ old, and have been taking the drug for < 1 month.
The phase IV clinical study analyzes which people take Xyzal and have Atrial fibrillation/flutter. It was created by eHealthMe based on reports of 17,000 people who have side effects when taking Xyzal from the FDA and is updated regularly. You can use the study as a second opinion to make health care decisions.”
Immediately I stopped the Xyzal, and in the past almost three months, I’ve had no incidence of Afib whatsoever.
Back to the headache…so I continued to research, hoping to find something to help as much as my efforts to resolve this pain in my face and forehead. I concluded that I most likely have occipital neuralgia, very similar to trigeminal neuralgia, but the symptoms are different.
Then, I researched treatment for occipital neuralgia, and many suggested awful drugs and surgery, neither of which appealed to me. But I kept coming across various acupressure treatments that may help such nerve pain in the head and face. One week ago, I started this process twice daily, once in the morning and again at night. It didn’t help right away.
On the third day, I noticed improvement; on day 4, I awoke with no pain. Today is day #3 without pain. I am hesitantly optimistic and fully understand I may have some bad days in the future and will continue with this process for as long as it takes, even if it is permanent.
There are thousands of reports from reliable sources that extol the virtues of acupressure (and acupuncture) for various ailments, including reports from the Mayo Clinic and other such facilities of high regard.
When we think about it, doctors don’t have the time to research to the degree that a patient may when choosing to be an advocate for their health. No doctor could have spent the hours I spent looking for answers from reliable sources. I firmly believe that if traditional medicine can’t help us, perhaps it’s worthwhile to look for alternatives that may help us with difficult-to-treat situations.
Again, please see your medical professional for diagnosis and treatment, but if all else fails, there may be alternatives that work for you, as they’ve done for me (fingers crossed) in these two situations.
Photos from ten years ago, July 13, 2013:
No photos were posted on this date ten years ago. See the story here.