Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank you, Dr. Mussell

Earlier this year, I was dealing with headache that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. The pain was localized to one side of my head, so I knew it wasn’t a typical one. I researched it on-line to see what could cause this type of pain and finally decided it was some type of migraine.

Still, I was tired of having one meal of day be ibuprofen, so I finally went to the doctor and had it checked out. In my meeting, I told the doctor all of my symptoms, as well as what I had found on-line. The doctor looked at me, blew off my self-diagnosis, and jokingly said, “Thank you, Dr. Mussell. Next time, enter the search term, ‘headache unilateral.’ “ One visit to a neurologist and a shot in the back of the head and I was my old self again.

I am not the only one in the family who’s had to visit a neurologist. My older son, Andrew, has been seeing one for a number of years. In the course of all the tests he took back when we were living in Oregon, we discovered that he was having seizures. They were petit mals, seizures we couldn’t see. “Many kids grow out of these as they get older,” the neurologist said. He prescribed Tegretol, a well-known seizure medication.

As Andrew grew, the seizures continued to show up on tests. The doctor increased the level of meds. He had a grand mal once and we took him to the hospital. My wife witnessed it and it scared her. The meds were increased again.

When we moved to Georgia, we had to find a new pediatric neurologist. We got a recommendation from his PCP. The new one ran the same tests as the previous one had. A few months ago, the school called. Andrew had another grand mal during his CRCT. Tests were run. The meds were increased again.

Displeasure with Andrew’s current neurologist led us to look for a new one. The doctor was blowing off concerns my wife and I had about Andrew. (He was also taking calls about his real estate investments during the appointment.) Instead, our PCP sent us to a seizure specialist.

At my son’s first visit, the doctor made a surprising recommendation: take Andrew off the meds. According to the doctor, one in 10 kids has seizure activity. Most of them grow out of it. However, their body has to learn to grow out of it. With Andrew on medication, his body wasn’t learning…and it needed to start doing so. For this doctor, kids shouldn’t be on seizure medication unless they are regularly having them. And while he was convinced that Andrew’s first grand mal was a seizure. The description of the second one that we got from Andrew’s school didn’t meet the definition.

So, we are now happily taking Andrew off medication. It will take about four months, as it can’t be done cold turkey. And the doctor admits that we may have to put him back on the meds in the future. For now, though, he’s going off…and we call it good news.


riojo said...

Good article. Do you see any change in your son on a day to day basis as the meds are decreased? Specifically, are his sleeping, diet and energy levels different?

Walt M said...

It's too early to tell. The meds have to be decreased slowly over four months and we just started. The medicine does make him sluggish for a while after he takes it, so we are hoping to see some change after he is off of them.