[Sober Living] Tripping On Over-The-Counters

“It is also important to note that overuse of medications such as [acetaminophen cocktails] can actually worsen headache frequency and duration.[1]” Doctor-Number-One didn’t believe I had headaches. Only after I ordered him to did he prescribe me something – a generic over-the-counter – and what I received was this huge bottle of generic medication, “to be used every eight hours as needed for pain.[2]” How does that fix the problem? These OTCs don’t solve our root causes.

We self-medicate to cope with the pains of life.

This has been the best job I’ve had in years, but also, it’s been the most stressful job in years. I have health insurance! I could have paid into health insurance during all the gigs I worked between, specifically “Quit Your Job,” and now, but then I’d have no money. The American healthcare system is expensive and seemingly designed to medicate instead of resolve issues.

What if the job is causing the stress?

Quitting would solve the stress short-term, but it’s not like I can live a life without stress. Who can? Let’s say I quit the job, just stayed at home to write, and could be self-sufficient. I would experience stress going to the grocery store, waiting in line, talking to someone, or driving there, or driving back. I’d experience stress writing and receiving feedback. I’ll receive stress doing anything in life. I stress my body just by existing.

So the question becomes managing stress in healthy ways.

The doctors have all suggested things like maintaining a good diet, staying well-hydrated, and exercising but they won’t listen to me when I tell them I have a good diet. I told Doctor-Number-Four that I was well-hydrated and he looked at me like I just told him some irrelevant information. If doctors are being taught generic information to expunge, that’s fine. Maybe most patients don’t care about these things? Maybe some patients hydrate through alcohol?

I can’t exercise right now.

I almost wonder that I have a blood pressure issue because if I exercise rigorously, as I would want to when I row, I get terrible headaches in the back of my head that feel like excessive pressure build-up. If I need to take a beta-blocker? The quote from the doctor’s “expert opinion” report that led this essay talked about this and a few other suggestions. This doctor’s conclusion was that I exclusively experience migraines.

Cool, except, I only get migraines occasionally.

In my patient notes that provided the doctor information to work from I explained that migraine medication worked only 10% of the time, which he quoted, yet still ignored when going with his diagnosis of a stronger dose of sumatriptan. Cool. So we’re going to fix 10% of the problem and you acknowledge that this is only 10% of the problem. I replied with an analogy of how this is like fixing a transmission issue in a car when there are more factors involved. The expert opinion concluded with a recommendation to see a headache-specific neurologist, so at least this isn’t the concluding essay to this on-going saga of headaches…

That might be a headache of its own, but writing these thoughts helps.

I still need to wait while they schedule these appointments, so I live a life where I’m managing the pains of having my eyes burn occasionally, my brain in constant pressure, and being unable to relieve the physical components of this stress. My patience in life has decreased. I am angrier, overall, which does make for better content, sometimes. I’m not as hesitant. Since I’m currently in a good headache space, where I’m not overwhelmed by headaches – except when the eye strain strikes, so I had to type this section with my eyes closed, then edit once that wave of migraine on top of my pressure headache let up – I might as well write as much as I can before I become unable to write. Either short-term of long-term.

The appointment with the headache-neurologist might be a month away.

Meanwhile, I’ll see if they can get me into a primary care physician – this would be the third attempt, or Doctor-Number-Seven, for those that are keeping count – to at least help with the majority symptoms preventing me from exercising or living my life. Writing these essays have helped me realize that these are the most important essays of my life, in terms of health, because through writing about these experiences in a casual thousand words, I can summarize them in a professional hundred words. Expressing them to colleagues and friends and family have helped, certainly. But having the venue and space to freely express these thoughts, specifically writing about my migraine auras, which I was able to succinctly summarize during my meeting with Doctor-Number-Six/Eye-Doctor-Number-Two [the first preceded Doctor-Number-One, and also, was a joke] diagnose them.

These essays are my rough drafts for my life’s final draft presentations.

I’m taking the Meloxicam instead of the over-the-counters, partially because they are somewhat more effective and partially because I can’t take both, but these are just short-term solutions for the long-term solutions. If my long-term solution is managing my interpretation of stress, I don’t know how to do it. When people express their stress, what can I do to deflect the worst of it? Wearing sunglasses helps because I am literally separated from the situation. I can close my eyes but I’ll still hear the stress. When I troubleshoot, it’s all stress. When I write, I can dispell the stress, but that only works for so much. I can dispell the mental stress, which is by far the most accumulating factor, but I can’t dispell the physical stress, which is what leads to overeating, anxiety, and other factors that can lead me to feel that special hopelessness we all feel that leads to insobriety.

What can I do when I’m becoming the victim of the American healthcare system?

The worst thing to do is to self-medicate.

If, instead, I push through it, I will win.

Remain over the addictions.

Quotes: [1] Would that be Honorary-Doctor-Number-Five-Point-Five, since I received consultation from him between -Five and -Six? [2] Quote on the bottle. Doctor-Number-One was an idiot.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: I’ve never been much of a fan of taking more medication than I need to, but here I am.
Related: Other Sober Living essays.
Photo: I didn’t take a photo showing the full scale of the bottle, but compared to other pill bottles I’ve been getting lately, this was huge. I also censored the medical information.
Written On: 2020 January 10 [40 minutes, from 8:21pm to 9:01pm, while litening to Eater Of Worlds during the intro paragraph, then “Draino” for the rest, WordPress.]
Last Edited: 2020 January 11 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.