Stroke vs Meds…….A VERY Tricky Balancing Game!

On May 8th, I posted about having finally transitioned over from taking Baclofen to a new med Requip.  I was very excited about the possibility of having found a med that not only quieted the right leg & arm spasticity at night, but also aided in my sleep, without waking the next day feeling like I was a walking zombie! zombie

Well last week I had a major “stroke moment”! I completely forgot to keep track of how many of the new pills I had and ran out!  So for two nights, I had to fall back on my Baclofen.

This little Faux Pas did a few things:  1) I realized how groggy and “out of it” the Baclofen made me feel, 2) Even though it made me sleepy, I was still waking SEVERAL times each of the two nights with painful muscle contractions and spasms.  Sleep, wake, sleep, wake. And 3)  I WILL NEVER FORGET TO CHECK MY SUPPLY OF MEDICATIONS!

I was exhausted by day two when I was able to get a hold of the doctor and get my Rx refilled!

I am finally back on track and today I woke feeling WONDERFUL, rested and ready to go!

raringtogoAlthough I have found that taking 3 tabs of my new med with 1 Baclofen seems to give me more relief than just taking the Requip alone.  I will give this a week, and then try to just take the Requip alone. If I can, it will be great as the price for Baclofen, even with insurance, has skyrocketed here in the West.

I will report back on this.

Feeling Great On New Medicine For My Spasticity!

I’ve been on Baclofen for three years now since my stroke, for my night-time spasticity with very little success.  Yes, it helped…..mildly.  But even at the highest tablet dose, I was still waking up 4-5 times a night with my right leg & arm in spasms!

I didn’t want to add another, stronger medicine, to the others I’m already taking.

So, on my last visit, after telling my doctor again that the Baclofen wasn’t really working, and I was exhausted from not getting enough sleep, we decided to try another medicine:  REQUIP.  This is a med used for muscle spasms, mostly with Parkinson’s patients.

I was ready to try anything.  So for the last 2 weeks, I’ve been lowering my dose of Baclofen, while slowly introducing the Requip.

The last three nights, I’ve  taken 1 Baclofen (vs 4) and 3 Reqiuip.  And I am so excited to report it’s working great!!!!

The last three days, as the Requip was slowly upped and the Baclofen was taken down to 1, I’ve felt more alert, more “my old self”, with more energy and ready to “get moving”.  Best of all?  I am sleeping thru the night with no painful spasms during the night!

The folks I work with have even commented on the difference in my alertness, energy, and mood.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my body doesn’t throw a whammy in there and get used to the med and start spasming again, but for now, I’m HAPPY!

As always, it’s up to the patient to SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT, and MAKE THE DOCTOR listen!  If your meds, your therapy, your treatment, aren’t working, don’t just “go along”, assuming there’s nothing else.

Today, for now, I’m almost pain-free, sleeping great, and raring to go during the day, all because I didn’t give up and I spoke up!

Spasticity: A Pain in the Ass & Everywhere Else!!

From the National Stroke Association:  Spasticity is a condition in which muscles become tight and stiff, which makes movement, especially of the arms or legs, difficult or uncontrollable. Approximately 40 percent of stroke survivors live with spasticity.

Symptoms

Spasticity can cause long periods of forceful contractions in major muscle groups, causing painful muscle spasms. The spasms produce a pain similar to athletic cramping.

Symptoms include:

  • A tight fist
  • Bent elbow
  • Arm pressed against the chest
  • Stiff knee
  • Pointed foot
  • Stiffness in the arms, fingers or legs
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • A series of involuntary rhythmic contractions and relaxations in a muscle or group of muscles that lead to uncontrollable movement or jerking, called clonus
  • Increased muscle “tone”
  • Abnormal posture
  • Hyperexcitable reflexes

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Since my stroke spasticity affects my right side daily.  I take Baclofen, but it doesn’t take away all the pain, stiffness or spasms.  Most nights, I  wake up a couple times.  But sometimes, (like last night), I will wake up four or five times with pain in my right leg & foot.  I will have on/off cramping in my foot & calf muscles, in addition to the ever-present foot spasm.

Some nights I will wake up, sit up, and grab my foot and use a t-shirt or towel to pull the toes up and toward me for 1-2 minutes.  It feels so good to have the foot in this position.

I’ve tried wearing my AFO to bed to keep it in this position, but it’s so uncomfortable.  I have seen a couple “night” type braces that supposedly keep the foot in this position, but I hate to spend money (insurance won’t cover it), order it, and then find out it’s a waste.

Anyone out there tried a night-time brace to help keep their foot in a flexed position with any success?  What have you done/tried for your night-time spasticity pain?

You Have Got To Be Kidding!

Well, the doctor’s office called with my blood & X-ray results.  Yes, I do have Gout.  Gout, for God’s sake……really?  I’ve been reading about it online and it is treatable with diet & medication.  I honestly thought the painful hand joints were all from my stroke, until I noticed my joints starting to swell.

The doctor had mentioned a medication called Allopurinol for gout when I went in for the tests.  I looked it up online, & after reading the mile long “possible side effects” I ran into this fun, little tidbit:  Allopurinol may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Seriously!  I laugh every time I read that!

Between my Baclofen making me somewhat “out of it”, this outta be a hoot folks!  

woohoo At the rate I am going, I am gonna have to switch out my store-bought pill box and instead start using Tupperware bowls, LOL!