SnuggleBub was a bit out of sorts today so we went out walking. The change of scenery worked its magic, sending her to sleep quite quickly, leaving me to roam the streets of the neighbourhood, taking photos of houses or aspects of houses that I find intriguing and/or pleasing to my eye.
I have loved looking at houses since I was little. When I was 13, I would ride to a particular street just to look at the houses on it. I’m sure that didn’t seem creepy at all! Now I love to look *and* take photos!
This is the second time I’ve taken photos on a walk with SnuggleBub. I never got around to posting any last time because I wanted to edit and get the images perfect, or as close as possible before posting. This time I’m just going to post them straight from my phone and actually get them posted.
I’ve never seen the gate open before and was trying to get a photo which didn’t actually impose on the privacy of their garden. Every time I walk past this house I always imagine a most magical garden behind the wall.
Even the roses at this house had the most divine scent.
In the past year I’ve tried a variety of migraine prophylactics and analgesics. None of the prophylactics made any difference and the side effects were usually very similar: dizziness, lethargy, brain fog. In short, not that different from the migraines. There was one prophylactic which had a spectacularly intense side effect: I’ve had twilight anaesthetics which less punch than Endep! It’s sort of funny now, but on a day when I was the responsible for a child and a baby it was a scary feeling. It did not warrant a second try just to see if my body would get used to it and I was meant to try it for three weeks.
All this trial and error brought me finally to the point of giving Botox a try. In order to get it on the PBS, you have to meet strict criteria but it’s all worth it if it works. Not meeting the criteria would mean that you’ve either found medication which works, or the migraines have decreased in number and effect on your life.
My neurologist have me an information booklet about Botox for migraines and it was like reading a description of myself. Apart from the last year, I have been pretty high-functioning with the migraines so I have often found myself thinking, “Maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe I’m making more of it than what it is”. There are moments of relief, when the neurologist first confirmed that I was experiencing chronic migraines, when I read that description of me in the botox booklet, moments that help me to accept that yes, it is real, I’m not making it up or making excuses for things that really are just personal failings.
Then I have a day like yesterday. A day when I can actually think clearly for the first time in what feels like forever. A day when suddenly, things that I struggled with the day before, come so easily it is ridiculous. Yesterday gave me hope. Hope that I can get back to myself, hope that I can have a normal functioning brain, hope that I can be the person, mum, wife, friend that I really want to be but have been incapable of being.
I had my first round of botox injections nearly four weeks ago. 31 injections in total, in my forehead, head, neck and shoulders. The four in my forehead were really painful and the neurologist did them slowly. Those are the ones that will have the most obvious side effect of causing drooping eyebrows should the Botox not be infected in just the right spot. The rest were quicker to do, all up it took about 15 minutes for the actual injections, but there was a good 15-20 minute prep time plus the consultation immediately before to discuss again the possible side-effects etc. In total the appointment was about an hour long. I’m just so grateful that #SnuggleBub is such a chilled baby; I’d taken her in with me because I was thinking the whole appointment would be just 15-20 minutes long!
I found it interesting that many of the injection sites were points that I know to trigger pain. In hindsight it makes sense but I was a bit surprised at the time. I did find myself thinking that I would never put myself through that just for beauty… But then realised that I was being quite hypocritical as IPL and waxing treatments are no walk in the park either yet I think nothing of putting myself through them on a regular basis. I guess the difference is that I don’t do that just for appearances sake either, it is all about being comfortable.
Though the injections were painful, when they were over the was a sense of, “Well, that wasn’t so bad really”. I was warned that the injections could make the migraines worse for the first month as my body adjusted, so I knew not to expect it to be a miracle cute where I would wake up the next morning with angels singing and no pain at all in my head. The first few days I was tender at the injection sites though not all at once. In the morning it might be one site that was show and in the afternoon a different site. I did experience fairly constant neck pain, especially on my left side. The neck pain worsened over the next 10 days, making it really painful to look down. Painkillers made no difference and I was thinking that as a trade-off, it did not cut the mustard. I found it far harder to manage normal life with the neck pain than I do with migraines. I foolishly jumped online to see if this was a common side-effect and read horror stories of people who still had the neck pain two years after having their one and only set of injections. I chose to focus on the people who reported neck pain for two weeks and then a massive improvement on the migraines!
In the third week, the neck pain began to subside and now it is only intermittent and is not affecting my daily life anymore.
The Botox took a few days to fully take effect on the muscles, so at first I though there was going to be no change in my expressions. But no, it has now well and truly taken effect and although I can wrinkle up my forehead, I can no longer frown. It is the bizzarest feeling. I tend to crown when I’m concentrating or thinking, I’ve done it my whole life. My mum was always trying to get me to stop frowning and I’ve had so many people ask if I’m okay when I’m just lost in thought. So far it looks like both our children have inherited my concentration frown too. The first thing one of my work colleagues said when I introduced her to a three month old #Monsieur was, “Oh look! He’s got your concentration frown! I know that frown!” Well it turns out that Botox is the best thing for making me aware of when I’m frowning… Or trying to frown and failing as is the case now! It does feel very weird to have muscles which just won’t listen to you no matter what.
As for how it is affecting the migraines, well I’m still having them but I haven’t had a full day’s dose of pain relief in two weeks, which is huge for me. Yesterday I didn’t even take pain relief until lunchtime; until now it had been pretty much the first thing I’ve done every morning. I’ve had a couple of nights where my head hasn’t been throbbing when I’ve gotten up to feed #SnuggleBub. I don’t usually take pain relief overnight so sometimes the middle of the night feeds have been challenging. I’m also noticing that the pain relief is not zombifying me the way it has been. The side effect of drowsiness had not been mixing well with broken sleep so it had reached a point where deciding to take Relpax was choosing to be completely zonked for the whole day. It felt like a no-win situation – I was either plodding through the brain fog of a migraine or the zombie state of being medicated.
As I write this, I’m on day three of not having severe brain fog. The pain is still there but it is such a relief to be able to think. To be able to focus enough to write this post. Not to have used all my week’s worth of focus and concentration on work, leaving nothing for my personal life. Given that I only work two days a week, I should have plenty of brain power leftover each week for my own life, but that’s not how it has been.
I am cautiously hopeful.
Next assessment, and Botox treatment is in early November. Then there will be another assessment three months later, by which stage we will know whether this is a treatment to continue. In total, six months trial but given that it’s had more effect so far than any of the medications I’ve trialled over the past year, the six month trial doesn’t worry me.
I wanted to include before and after photos but the photos of me trying to frown just look like I’m squinting, so I recorded a video for the full comedic effect!
I remember once hearing something about how there should be a Grandparents’ Day, the way we have Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. At the time I thought that it was just another excuse for companies to market cards and gifts and make profit. Now though, I think that there is something in it. Each year, we straddle the line of wanting to do something just with our immediate family unit (after all, it is Monsieur and SnuggleBub who made us parents) and wanting to celebrate with our parents (after all, they are still our parents and it is still their Mothers’/Fathers’ Day as well).
Our solution has been to have our little, immediate family celebration on a different day and then usually to go to Pt Lonsdale on the day to celebrate with R’s parents – my parents live too far away to day trip it and we prefer to stay two nights at least so don’t usually go up for those particular celebrations.
Anyhoo, today we celebrated R’s Fathers’ Day. The morning always starts with card, present and pancakes for breakfast! Then the activities for the rest of the day is totally the choice of the parent being celebrated. This year, R decided that he wanted to go to Scienceworks and the Planetarium. Scienceworks is a fantastic museum of science and technology; full of interactive exhibits and activities for everyone.
It was the first time in years that I actually got to walk around the different exhibits. The first few years of going there, Monsieur always wanted to go to the one area and stay there the whole time.
Both Monsieur and SnuggleBub were captivated by the Planetarium show.The show in the Lightning Room was also fascinating. We all had a fantastic time today and came away promising ourselves to go there more often.
SnuggleBub wasn’t keen on the last demonstration in the Lightning Room, so we left to enjoy some sun and fresh air outside. Mostly I just played around with my new phone camera settings and took photos of her after that.
At the time of booking Robert to come to the hospital to take photos, I also asked that he come to our house a week or so later to take some family photos. I knew that I would be pretty dopey after the c-section and wanted some very early photos where I wasn’t completely out of it or confined to a bed, unable to move. Robert came to our house when SnuggleBub was about 10 days old. Monsieur alternated between competing for camera time and wanting nothing to do with the photos. At that time, he wasn’t at all interested in holding SnuggleBub or getting too close to her. He professed his love for her, but was very happy to love her from a safe distance. All the same, Robert captured some beautiful photos. He even returned one more time to get some additional shots of SnuggleBub because he felt that he hadn’t taken enough of her the first time. So generous.
Here are some of my favourites, all taken by Robert Wagner of Robert Wagner Photography