Say It Isn't So: My Port-a-Cath Helps My Migraine?
Last updated: July 2022
Have you ever been prescribed a medicine or device and found that there are multiple uses for it? I have. Many medications were developed to treat one symptom or disease but may actually help another. I have had multiple medications prescribed to me for one condition, but they help relieve the symptoms of another illness, which is advantageous for me as it means fewer medicines. I would say this is great, especially when you have already been on too many treatments to count.
My port-a-cath is a lifesaver
I have a port-a-cath in my chest, which is not a curse to me. My port gives me the freedom to infuse medications at home without having to go to an infusion center or the emergency room. I get sympathy “Awwws” or “I’m so sorry” from people when they see my line hanging out of my shirt. I always say, “It’s ok. It does not bother me.” It truly doesn’t. My primary care physician is against me having it as she states it causes me to be at risk for sepsis. I have had it for over three years so far. My port actually is a lifesaver. I do sometimes get tired of accessing the port myself every week, but I know it is for my good.
Why do I have a port?
I was given a port for my dysautonomia (autonomic dysfunction) to stop the need for weekly intravenous lines (IVs) for normal saline IV fluids. I was going into an infusion center twice a week for fluids - I needed the salt, but I get it from my diet. I now give myself daily IV fluids at home at my convenience, which is a plus as it helps my blood pressure, so I am not as hypotensive. I am usually around 97/64, but my cardiologist would like my systolic to be well above 100. My fluids help my blood pressure stay a little higher, so I am not as light-headed or faint.
I am at an increased risk for dehydration
I am also at an increased risk for dehydration as I do not drink water like regular people. I have gastroparesis, which makes eating and drinking hard for me. The weird thing is that I can drink hot black tea like Assam, English breakfast, or chai but not anything else. Just the thought of drinking water makes me nauseous. I do not consume meals and rely on IV nutrition (TPN). Since I cannot take in the required daily amount of water, I never get enough. The fluids help main with dysautonomia and dehydration.
Dehydration-triggered migraine attacks
As far as migraine headaches go, if I am dehydrated, sooner or later, I will get one. It always starts with me feeling weak. Then I get light-headed and have problems with my eyes. My head will start pounding upon standing. I will get extremely nauseous and have a headache that will always become a migraine. My migraine headaches always affect me on the right side. When the migraine attack hits, I tell myself, “Here is trouble.” No one likes getting migraine symptoms. Keeping up with the IV fluids kind of gives me an advantage as I do not need to go to the ER or infusion center. I feel I have the upper hand as I have been given a prescription for 1.5 liters per day from my cardiologist. As long as I follow the guidelines, I can hopefully stay hydrated and decrease migraine attacks brought on by dehydration.
My port has helped my migraine
So as I have stated, my port was given to me to help with symptoms of dysautonomia. My GI doctor and cardiologist knew the normal saline fluids would treat dehydration and hypotension, which affected my migraine attacks. My port was later used for my IV nutrition or TPN and some other medications, which will be discussed in Part 2.
Do you have a migraine toolbox for when an attack hits?
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