Toward the end of my near-daily, three-month mindbender headache trip that became the foundation for this treatise on the American Healthcare System, I started receiving many ideas for what could have been causing my headaches that ended up being ergonomic and spinal in origin. Although I appreciated all of them, I wasn’t going to pierce my ears and buy some spices to exorcise the headache demons, even if there were days where I was close.
For as long as I can remember, in recent memory especially, I’ve had mild tinnitus. Maybe it was caused by the Motörhead show that introduced me to live music? Maybe it was the years of listening to music with headphones? Maybe it’d always been there? I was told recently that my vocational work office has white noise generators that were installed to keep us calm. I’m not even being sarcastic or dystopian. Headache-inducing calm, perhaps?
I can’t quite track when exactly I went from feeling fine to the start of the three-month, almost-daily mindbender headaches I was having that inspired this whole series, but through enough consideration, I probably found where I found myself sick. I found that sickness after a few stressful days without adequate self-care. It wasn’t any singular factor; it rarely is. There are reactionary sicknesses, like food poisonings, cuts, or burns, but how about for headaches?
Over the past ten visits to physical therapy, I’ve reversed the spinal issues that were causing my headaches and learned better ways to stretch certain muscles in my neck and shoulders. Although it’s not magic and although it won’t get done on the first visit, with enough practice both with the physical therapists and at home, I was able to reclaim normalcy. It’s a good feeling rowing again. I’m getting into more advanced stretches now.
Anxiety is a useful tool, except when it overwhelms us. If there’s anything I’ve gained through these months of headaches I experienced, and am nearly three weeks away from having last experienced severely, it’s learning to overcome life’s minor anxieties. When you’re sick daily, you stop deeply caring about whether someone’s delicate opinion of how you look or feel matters. Anxiety, in this way, is a useful metric for general information but shouldn’t overwhelm you.
I woke up with enough of a sensation reminding me of my old headaches to worry me into thinking that I’ve got my first headache in seventeen days. Perhaps true. However, the cause of it was not drinking enough water. I still haven’t been responsible with my hydration since waking up, which is probably because I’ve learned to suffer through headaches for so long, but now that I’m admitting it, it’s time to drink water.
Hopefully, this will be old news by the time this essay hits publication[*], but a friend tweeted about how the Army is setting up a field hospital and my journalistic instincts kicked in. I drove over to the hospital I used to work for, which inspired parts of Eville Medical from “The Story,” for the first time in years, and other than admiring the new architecture, I parked in a stall and took this in…
I tapered down my medicine consumption of my anti-inflammatory nabumetone perhaps outside of doctoral advice, but it’s still within, just accidentally. My pharmacy reached out to ask if I needed a refill. I responded yes. They never sent the refill fulfillment message. Around this same time, too, I found the physical therapy was working well enough where I figured this would be a good opportunity to try operating without the medicine. I’m good so far!
If I consider a mindbender headache to be any mental inconvenience lasting over thirty minutes, did I have one the other day that was caused by too much fatigue for a stretch of just under thirty minutes? In my Days Since Last Headache journal, I don’t count that as a headache, but since we’re concluding these essays about headaches with scope, it makes me wonder if something like that would be considered a headache, overall.
Writing this five-part series about passing seven years of sobriety has been exhausting. Anxiety over current events hasn’t helped. Although I don’t see a reason why my sobriety would be broken between now and year eight, this degree of self-examination has left me feeling exhausted. When I write essays normally, it’s guiding along my perspective, rather than addressing my own inadequacies. I try to do this whenever possible to bleed out false pretenses and arrogance.