“We don’t know much about headaches,” was what the first doctor to talk to me about headaches, over four years, told me before describing pain sensors and blood vessels. As I’m reading Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz, M.D., that still holds true, but we do know enough to work with. I’m on page 30 of 231 and there’s already enough to fill my brain with insights as to what these things are from a biological perspective.
If we play the shoulda-woulda-coulda game, what factors – if changed – shoulda changed, which woulda made things better, which coulda prevented me from landing in the emergency department with a bill for $726.41? I know one guilty party: my insurance company dragged their feet in finding me the help I needed. I went through their web system so I could save the documentation. I was out of options. Desperate. Alone. I tripped on the American Healthcare System.
I felt a pang on the upper right side of my head as I laid on the physical therapy table and moved my neck to one side. The pillow underneath my head had caused me to move my head in an uncomfortable position. We tried without the pillow. Just a rolled-up towel underneath my neck. This worked out almost perfectly. I write this laying down, practicing my neck and spine stretches for these mindbender headaches.
If I can thank Doctor-Number-Four for one thing, it was his performance of what a headache patient “should” do. Here I was suffering, needlessly, because I choose to be respectful and hold my pain inside. While driving through the heavy traffic to see Doctor-Number-Nine, I thought: what if I play it up a little? I wore my sunglasses, let the headache sensations control my thoughts, and let the sensations bother me without reigning them back.
There will be minutes and hours where I’ll feel better, maybe even forget that anything will cause a debilitating headache, then, I’ll do something like move some things from one box to another, clean the kitchen counters, or do anything physical and be stopped in my tracks. I feel sick. But I feel halfway back to normal, at least, compared to how I’ve felt recently. Or maybe I’m just acclimatizing to this terrible health condition?
I’ve honed my willpower over nearly seven years of sobriety, but even now, I feel that is slowly chipping away. My adventures with the American Healthcare System seems like a needless war of attrition to get these headaches under control. I get better temporarily through some medication or another then I get worse than I ever have. How do I fight the good fight? I can describe that by describing my allure toward “The Story.”
I’m the sickest I’ve ever felt for the longest I’ve ever felt and I know of one relief for all this pain. I’m nearly seven years sober yet the closest I’ve come to being tempted back to insobriety has been over the past few days. There is no pressure release valve for my head pains. I can’t exercise to relieve the stress. Nothing seems to work or last. I have to keep my head straight.
While I’ve found that the only times I get writer’s block is when I’m fatigued, where the best cure is rest, there are times when it’s better to get out in the world. For times like that, I like to drive and get lost to find myself. I like to explore new areas, find other routes, or even just have a pleasant meandry through a new environment, whether for location scouting or just mental decompression.
During my consultation visit with Neurologist-Number-Two/Doctor-Number-Eight, we talked about all the medications I was prescribed. He was surprised over my gut-punch reaction to the depression-causing anti-depressant Amitriptyline and we agreed to a high blood pressure beta-blocker medication. I’m fifteen days into taking Propranolol. Although I don’t like the notion of taking medications frequently, if I’m going to survive Corporate America, I’ll need something to moderate my blood pressure, and I don’t feel any side effects.
When we set out in earnest toward our life plans, what happens when we get sidetracked? Vicissitudinous health events can ruin everything. When we stare death down, it may graciously whisper back to us, ‘not yet…,’ before releasing its icy grip, we might simultaneously realize that we still have a lifetime to achieve everything we want, and remember that we can’t achieve everything we want. What’s most important? Adapt to your adversities then overcome them.