Interesting trip to the Doc.

—Not Soliciting Medical Advice----

So, I’m waiting around for my husband to finish whining to the doc about his back, I’m flipping through a magazine and see an ad for Chantix. Hmm…I took it before, before our lives fell apart, it worked well until I couldn’t afford it anymore. So I ask for an appointment for myself.

Ok, nurse comes in, she just got the large blood pressure cuff for my husband and now has to scurry off and find a child size one for me. Hilarity ensues. I give my medical history which pretty much consists of one pregnancy, one child and a lifetime of migraines, I tell the nurse, don’t bother about the headaches, I’ve given up finding an answer, they are part of my life.

Few minutes later, this Doc comes in and says that he sees I’ve taken chantix before with no problems so he will have no problem reissuing it to me. Now, sez he, tell me about your migraines.

I run a quick path through my lifetime of weekly headaches, all the tests I’ve had done, EKG, EEG, CAT scans, MRI’s, biofeedback, behavior modification, diet modification, accusations of hypochondria, the list goes on.

He says, you don’t have migraines. You have something mimicking migraines. Let do a few quick tests. He does the eye following the finger test. He does the pupil test, he tests my arm strength, he tests my knee reflexes.

He looks at me and asks, when did you have a spinal cord injury? Me? Never.

He says, would you mind taking off your shoes? I do so, he runs something along the bottom of both feet. He asks me to watch as he does it again. My left foot does not do what the right foot does. The big toe heads up and my little toes fan out. It’s called the Babinski Reflex and only occurs in children under two and people who have had a spinal cord injury.

He says I’ve failed every test. My eye droops and the pupil is slow to dialate, my left side is noticably weaker (I’m left handed) my left knee does not respond as my right does and well, there’s that damned Babinski reflex on my left foot.

Then he asks “when did you break your nose?” Me? Never. He says I have a deviated septum and didn’t I notice my nose kinda goes in one direction? Uh, no, I kinda thought it was you know, how my nose is.

What to do? Well, he says, obviously it happened long ago and I’m dealing with it well. He says my headaches are probably related to the injury and that they sound like Horner’s Syndrome and that something is occuring to make it flare up. He asks how do I cope now? I tell him I usually end up sleeping for about 24 hours. He says that probably releases enough stuff to relieve the pressure on whatever is damaged in my spinal cord.

He says there isn’t much to do but a drug called neurontin might slow down the activity and bring about a more normal life. It’s cheap and it’s worth a shot since there isn’t much more to be done. He gives me a few phrases to look up, tells me to think about it and get back to him. He’d also like to do some bloodwork and follow up once I’m done with the Chantix.

He also told me he was certain of one thing. I am not a hypochondriac.

Great, I’m brain damaged, but it’s not all in my head.

He said:“these are the things you have: Babinski’s Reflex, nystagmus, hemiplegia”
Google them and get back to me.

So I’ve been googling for 3 days. It seems that most folks that have the Babinski’s are severely messed up. Same with hemiplegia (or more hemiparesis).

I’m not looking for medical advice.

I’m just kind of weirded out. From the research, it seems the type of birth I had raises the chances of injury fairly dramatically, I basically encountered a hat trick of risk factors, footling breach, premature, forceps used. Wheee! My prize? Uh, well, 1 day a week in bed in excruciating pain!r

I’m pretty sure I’ll go for a follow up, if only to find out if a doctor in a walk in clinic out in the middle of BFE has found more than any other doc I’ve ever been to. He was shocked to find out I’d had all that stuff done, since he felt like it was pretty obvious from a basic exam that SOMETHING was up with my spinal cord. With the Babinski alone, evidently, since that seems to be the dead give-away.

I turn 41 in 2 hours. 1 day a week for forty one years, 2132 days I’ve spent in bed in pain, approximately. 5.84 years of my life. Toss in a little labor, some dental surgery and a broken toe, I’m pretty sure I’m past 6 years.

So, anyone else find out they got a floppy head rather late in life? Any one know of anyone with a spinal cord injury who’s effects are so minor (relatively)? Is this doc more out of his head than I am?

What sayeth the flock?

Wow. You must be freaked out. It’s odd. My sister always had headaches, from the time she was a little kid - -probably since birth as my mom used to tell stories of her screaming for no reason and being unable to calm her down. My sister is 53 now and they’ve come and gone all her life. Not as bad as what you’re describing, but worse than your average headache and far more frequent than average. She was also a breach birth delivered by forceps. Do you have any vision issues? My sister is termed legally blind. She’s fine with corrective lenses, but without them can’t see 2 feet in front of her - literally. I remember them thinking that her vision may have been what was causing the headaches (she got glasses when she was fairly young), but they didn’t clear up with the vision correction.

Sorry that doesn’t help you much, but thanks. I’m going to tell my sister to check her reflexes for the heck of it.

Hope the new medicine helps you. This could be a really great thing for you in many ways. It’s a lot easier to cope with something when you know what you’re trying to cope with!

I’m curious how many doctors you’ve been to about this. Clearly, it doesn’t seem to require complex and expensive tests, just an observant doctor willing to think a little unconventionally. It’s rather a sad commentary on the general quality of medical care – especially if you’ve been branded a complainer or a hypochondriac.

that’s very bizarre. I’d be interested to hear if you have any further developments - hope the new meds help! finally having a doctor who takes it seriously must be a relief as well.

To give you an idea, I was hospitalized for about a week when I was in the first grade, that was after many trips to docs. Since then, every few years, I’ll toss my head out to see if anything might be new/worse/whatever. I’d say over my adult life, I’ve probably been to five or more docs. It is a rather frustrating thing really. I waited 4 months for an appointment with a reputable neurosurgeon because my headaches had increased in frequency and I was vomiting with them, I was terrified I had a tumor. We waited 6 hours in the waiting room, he walked in, had me walk three steps, follow his finger…“no, you don’t have a tumor.” and pretty much walked out. One doc that was working on me, I told him my sinuses go absolutely haywire during a headache and that I often take sudafed and can still go through a box of kleenex in a day and the day after, be just fine. I showed up for one appointment with a headache, he examined me, said I had post-nasal drip and wanted to prescribe me an anti-histamine. I told another doc I wanted something to help me function instead of sleep the day away, he gave me a sedative.

It hasn’t been a very fruitful endeavor. That is mostly why I am so weirded out. I mean, I’ve never gone to a doc and asked for a medication before (birth control does NOT count) and this guy geeks out on my head.

When I accused him of geeking out on me, he did say that he deals with diet related diabetes and hypertension all day and it is nice to see something interesting. To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement. My gasted has been fully flabbered.

One thing I can’t figure out. Why my right eye but my left body? Haven’t had much google luck there.

ETA: I am farsighted, but not badly so. Evidently, the folks that are older are a higher risk, since nowadays, they tend to do c-sections for the riskier (i.e. breach) births.

When you go in for your followup, I’d give your doc a box of chocolates or something.

That’s a sharp individual who made a damn good diagnosis!

I’m going on a very vague recollection, but I seem to recall that while the general rule is that the two brain lobes control the opposite sides of the body (left lobe controls right side, right side controls left side), the eyes are an exception - the left lobe controls the left eye, and the right lobe controls the right eye.

So if the damage is to the right lobe, that would affect control of the left side of the body and the right eye.

But that’s just a hazy recollection - don’t rely on it! maybe one of our medical types will be along to cast some light on it.

Fascinating stuff!!!

The thing with the deviated septum in and of itself isn’t necessarily a finding related to everything else, as it’s a pretty common thing (my brother and I have had surgery for this, as has Typo Knig, and as far as I know none of us have ever had a broken nose or any sort of spinal injury). But all the other stuff you listed is, just, wow.

I wonder if it mightn’t be worth having a consult with a neurologist when you can afford to do so, just for informational purposes.

Is it possible you had some sort of traumatic injury in your youth that you just don’t remember?

When I was about first or second grade, I wiped out my bike and sort of “lost” several days. I only know what happened based on what my older brother told me at the time. I do remember “coming to”, so to speak, several days later and a big scab on my knee, that later became a scar. I was apparently conscious but just sort of lost a few days. Maybe something like this occurred with you and you just don’t remember it.

However it works out, good luck with getting yourself to a better place physically and mentally.

The neurological pathways that lead to your body generally cross the midline of the body. This happens at various places in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) depending what part of the body you’re talking about, whether it’s a motor or sensory pathway, etc. So you end up with the left side of the brain controlling the right side of the body and vice versa. I’d have to go back to my textbooks to go into real detail. Neuroanatomy is not my strongest subject. Your eyes are controlled by the cranial nerves which come directly off the brainstem and do not cross over. Which brings us to one other bit of confusion in the story. I can’t think of a way that a spinal cord injury could affect your eyes since the nerves that controll the eyes are above the level of the spinal cord. A brain injury, especially in the brainstem, could certainly produce the deficits you describe though.

Wow. Just goes to show that most medical professionals work on auto-pilot - give them a symptom and they’ll immediately focus on that, rather than checking to see what other symptoms are hanging about.

I had a slightly less traumatic experience with that sort of behaviour, when I caught a bad case of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth at age 27. The first doc said strep because I mentioned a bad sore throat, and the second doc decided it was just some bad canker sores and sent me home with a numbing mouthwash. Strangely enough, it was my mom (the pediatrician) who diagnosed it over the phone - the virus tends to hit children under the age of 10, so it probably never even occurred as a possible option to the docs since they usually treated adults.

Anyway, hope that now that you’ve got a possible explanation for your headaches, you’ll be able to find the right treatment… I get the occasional migraine, and I can’t possibly imagine dealing with them on a weekly basis.

If his theories are right, that’s a good diagnostician you’ve got there.

His name’s not House, is it?

Nah, he sounded too nice.

I think the MD you have here is a keeper.

I think you may have found a great doctor- don’t let him get away. By all means, check his dx with another doc if you have one you trust, but at this point it doesn’t sound like you’ve had much success with your previous docs.

I love a doctor who actually takes a history. That’s how I found out my dizzy spells were migraines. I listened to the doctor ask my daughter questions about the headache that had put her in the emergency room the night before.

It’s probably not appropriate to say I love this story, but it’s one of those interesting things you don’t always hear about. It would be really cool if this diagnosis leads to being able to do something about it.

I’m envious. I’ve had headaches my entire life. I’d say on average, I wake up 2-3 times a week with a splitting headache that sometimes will go away with Excedrin and sometimes won’t. There are certain triggers that have been more or less important over the years - heat, certain foods like highly processed meats, not enough sleep, too much sleep, etc - but I’ve just learned to live with it. When I was in the third grade, my mom spent months trying to get me diagnosed and treated. I remember taking every pill under the sun, having a spinal tap, and having my sinuses surgically enlarged, but nothing had the slightest effect. They’re not migranes, by the way. My dad used to get migranes periodically, and (a) they were nothing like my headaches and (b) his migrane medication did nothing for me.

Anyway, I haven’t thought about seeking treatment for them for decades. Maybe someday I’ll have decent insurance and spare money again and I can give it another whirl. The problem is that “headache” is such an incredibly vague symptom that can point to about a zillion different problems.

I just want to add that I’m appalled that you’ve been having headaches your entire life and apparently no one had bothered to do a full neuro exam on you. The droopy eyelid can have various causes and some people have pupils that are natually a bit mismatched but the Babinski on one side is a solid clue there’s something odd going on neurologically.

Like the classic “Mom/Dad dropped you on your head as a baby”?! :eek:

So many docs don’t bother with an exam (it’s rare when my doc even does the reflexes on me). Good on him and congrats–you’re not crazy!

My wife DID drop my son on his head when he was two months old. No noticeable effects to date, although his memory is selective both incredible and awful about different things. It wasn’t a hard drop, per se, and although he still has a scar buried under his hair, he didn’t get knocked out or anything at the time.