Friday, February 29, 2008

What Condition my Condition Was In

Hopefully this post won't appear for many years. I'm writing it on 2-29-2008 but intend to save it as a draft and not publish it until my days with the FAA are done. My intention all along was to keep working until the spring of 2013. We shall see. If you're reading this prior to then it means that my days with the FAA have come to a premature end.

I can't speak in real time on my blog about what I'm going through as it would be the end of my career. I don't think I'm overreacting.

As an air traffic controller I'm required to maintain a class 2 medical certificate. I get a yearly physical from a Flight Surgeon who determines my status. The past few years I've had a waiver for the occasional Cluster headache bouts I suffer from. The headaches attack me on average every 15 months or so and typically last four weeks before they're gone. They come in clusters, hence the name. They're nasty. I recently read a description online which stated that they're likely the most painful condition a medical doctor will come across in their practice. I don't doubt it. Migraines don't come close to these in terms of pain intensity.

My last bout with the headaches finished this past November. I stayed out of work for four weeks while I took higher than acceptable (to the FAA) doses of Prednisone to diminish the amount of headaches I experience. For the breakthrough headaches I use Imitrex nasal spray which is a God-send. These medications work wonders for me and I'm able to function as I normally would.

Five weeks ago I began using a new drug, Flomax, to help with some prostate issues I've been having. That drug along with another, Uroxatrol, caused me to begin experiencing some smaller scale cluster headaches again. I had no idea this would happen. I came off the medication as soon as I noticed a correlation but not before I found myself in a full blown cluster headache cycle -- which is where I remain. I'm so disappointed about it all. I just want my health back.

As I write this my concern is that my headache condition is morphing into something less manageable and that this could ultimately result in me having to take an early retirement. I'd rather not. I don't feel I'm able to approach management so soon after having just had my medical reinstated so I'm going through this phase 'underground'. It's really my only option as I see it. Hopefully I'll come out the other end of this soon but I'm not seeing much in the way of relief. I had to up my dosage of Prednisone from a typical burst of 50mg to 70mg to get the headaches under control. I don't understand it. I'm down to 60mg now and hoping to drop further tomorrow.

It's stressful being in this situation. I have very little confidence that I could plead my case to the Flight Surgeon and expect a favorable outcome. It's a fact that the FAA would like to see as many controllers at my wage taken off the doles and replaced by people making half as much.

Hopefully this phase of headaches will be over soon.

Tammy is concerned for me with the amount of Prednisone I'm having to use. It can be a harsh drug to be on over an extended period of time. I have to have it. I was standing in line at Walgreens today getting a prescription filled and my nose began to bleed. Prednisone? I don't know but I haven't had a nose bleed in 30 years.

There are possibly other drugs I could use to take the place of Prednisone. From the research I've done none of them are nearly as effective. I've got an appointment scheduled for next week with a neurologist who specializes in headaches. I'm hoping for some direction from him.

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