He has returned to Mayo today for his follow up. We weren't expecting much to happen since neurologically everything has been stable. He saw the sleep Dr this am just to follow up on his CPAP and insomnia. He got an A from the Dr for his 100% use of his CPAP, his sleep apnea score went from a 68 to a 4, that means that 1 year ago he would quit breathing 68 times an hour and now that is down to 4 per hour so HUGE improvement with CPAP therapy. No changes there, just needs to keep doing what he's doing. They were hoping that getting his sleep apnea under control would help improve his cognition, headaches and fatigue but it didn't but it sure did improve my sleep :) LOL. Overall better for his health as well as uncontrolled sleep apnea can lead to many other conditions over time.
He saw the neurologist this afternoon, we discussed that cognitively nothing has changed but his headaches and general pain have worsened. He gave him the diagnosis I had been waiting to hear when he saw the rheumatologist in October, Fibromyalgia. This is a centralized nerve disorder meaning that his nerves are overly sensitized and firing off constant pain signals. To put the pain in the words of Chris, "It hurts to wear clothes, just the clothes touching my skin hurts" "My joints and muscles hurt all the time" As for the bone pain he describes it as "Feeling like being hit by a bat in different places over and over again" He recommended that we increase the titration time of adding the Lyrica, his PCP was planning a slow up titration, but the neurologist says for someone in as severe a pain as Chris is as well as someone who has been on such high doses of Gabapentin for a long time the slow up titration is not necessary and we need to get him to max dose soon. So will be increasing the dose every 3-5 days as tolerated. Now the next hurdle is getting insurance to cover it. Apparently since there's no generic of Lyrica it can sometimes be a fight with insurance companies to get it covered. He currently has samples that he's taking from his PCP and we will drop off the prescription at our pharmacy when we get home and fingers crossed that it won't be a huge pain in the A** to get it filled. Dr McKeon says that since he's been on gabapentin and failed that it should be fairly easy to get it pre-authorized but there's never any guarantees when you're dealing with insurance companies. Dr McKeon says that we will stick with annual follow ups unless something new pops up and we need to see him sooner. He also put in orders for Chris to be seen in the Fibromyalgia clinic here at Mayo clinic, it's a 3 day clinic. He has to get fasting lab drawn in the morning to help qualify him for the fibro clinic and they will get back with us in the next couple of days to set appointments for that. Those appointments won't be until probably November at the earliest. Also if we don't come up with any improvements in pain, there are a couple of other medications that could be tried as well as a 1-3 week "pain clinic" that they offer here at Mayo clinic. But potentially having to be here for 3 weeks isn't really an option financially for us. As much as we love spending time in Rochester it gets expensive staying in hotels and eating out as well as me missing work for that long. But we will worry about crossing that bridge if we get to it. For now we're going to be hopeful that the Lyrica will help to improve his pain and that the fibro clinic will help as well.
As for other pain management, earlier this Spring we purchase an Alpha-Stim machine. Alpha stim is a therapy that they use at the VA for veterans with chronic pain, depression and anxiety. It helps with all of it. It's a cranial nerve stimulator. I saw such great results with pain from the veteran's I was working with that I wanted Chris to try it out! It does help him with his headaches, it doesn't completely alleviate the headaches but it does decrease the intensity of them while he's wearing it and for a little while after he takes it off. The issue being that he forgets to use it.
In other family news, Ally graduated from High School in May and moved in to her own apartment with her girlfriend the 1st of August. She's taking a gap year and not going to college right away. She's not sure what she wants to do when she grows up and doesn't want to waste a bunch of money on college until she gets it figured out. She has so many college credits already from high school and dual credit classes that she doesn't have tons of pre-reqs to do. So she's just gonna work and make some money and eventually figure it out. She's still working at Oak & Pie as a server and making pretty good money doing it. Tyler is also on break from school currently. He put his Master's degree on hold in November, the further he got in to the program the less he felt good about it. He's also been working at Oak & Pie as a server and bartender saving up some money while he figures it all out. He's currently thinking about returning to school in the Spring for Personal Training. He's still living at home, although I rarely see him.
I have been doing well myself. I've made myself a priority and started "self care" about a year ago. The last several years my life has been so focused on everyone else that I let myself go a bit. So in the last year I worked hard and lost 30 pounds and managed to get off of 1 of my BP meds. I signed up for a membership at Massage Envy and faithfully get a monthly massage to help control my stress. I'm currently training for a half marathon in October, assuming that this "bum" ankle I've got cooperates and starts to feel better.
I guess that's about all I know for the moment. Thanks as always for following our journey and continued prayers for our family and especially for Chris.