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I had a doctor’s appointment this past week.  Which is not remarkable in and of itself.  I have a lot of doctor’s and they all require a visit from time to time.  But this doctor offered to take me off one of my medications, to see if I really needed it.

Medically, she is right.  There is a decent chance that I could wean off the meds without a return of the pain, the constant pain, and life would be fine.  Actually, life would be slightly better.  Less pain, less medication.

And yet, and yet, I said no.

I’ve talked here before about how hard it is to be healthy after you’ve been sick, and as I walked out of the doctor’s office I wondered how much of my no was about that.

Most of my no was about other things though.  I’ve only been pain free for about a year.  And I’ve spent most of that year re-learning how to tell when I’m in pain.  (I’m well aware of the depths of the problems in that statement.)  So I don’t trust myself to know if the pain did return if I stopped taking the medication.  I occasionally miss an evening dose and I notice that the next day.  The medication has few side effects, so staying on it has few negatives.

Someday, I hope, I look nervously forward too, I will get to say yes to this offer.  Despite how hard it is psychologically.  Despite how much easier it is to keep saying no.  Despite how scary it sounds.  Despite the open question of whether or not I can actually live, pain free, with out the meds.

But for now, for a lot of reasons, I’m staying on them.  One more pill.  It’s the right choice.  For me.  For this season.  For however long this season lasts.

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Or why my migraines took forever to diagnose.

I have migraines.  I have officially had migraines for about 8 months.  I have had migraines unofficially at least since my second surgery.  Which was 8 years ago.

That’s some difference.  8 months and 8 years.

The reason?  Is simple.  I’d already had surgery twice to remove two brain tumors.  One of the first signs of a brain tumor are headaches.  To be clear, my tumors tend to asymptomatic.  Further, headaches have never been a symptom of my tumors.

Still, when I walked into many different doctors offices and said, “I’ve been having these headaches.  What’s up?”  The response from many different doctors, most of whom I have respected and liked, has been, “When was your last MRI?”  And it was never that long ago.

So that was pretty much the end of that conversation.

And the headaches never really ended.  And because surgery had always been so recent and because they were never ‘typical’ migraines and because my life was so unsettled and because I don’t like doctor’s offices….

I just never really fought to get anything diagnosed.  Because it was so hard.  Because I didn’t know how to fight that fight.  Until it got too bad.

Because my other diagnosis, my past got in the way.

This has been my week.  It has been bad.  But I am lucky.  I have friends who listen and care.  I have health insurance.  I have doctors.  I have medications.

no matter how often I come back here
it is always a shock–
when I move my head,
when I breathe,
when I stand,
when I read,
when I live
and it doesn’t hurt;
when the elephants who
had taken to tangoing in my head,
along with the ice pick lodged
two inches from my right eye,
and the echoes that make
every noise repeating and loud,
when all have left,
no matter how often I come back here
it is always a miracle.

written 7-21-10

Today my head hurt.  A lot.  It doesn’t take much poking around in my archives to discover that this happens.  It happens often enough that I have a whole bunch of posts talking about headaches.  But today was different.

Today was different because it was the first day in nearly a week that my head had hurt.  I have a new doctor who has me on a new medication which is working.  The third fact more than makes up for the first and second facts.

Today was different because the new doctor gave me a second medication which actually makes the pain stop.  Hence the me sitting up, with the lights on, and typing right now.

And today was different because today I could tell people that I had a migraine, not a bad headache.  And they respected that as a different kind of problem.  Not that my head hurt more or differently than it had a few weeks ago or last year.  Even though my head has hurt more than it did today.  Part of me knows that this is due to my access to health care and the credibility our society gives to doctors and that I should try to resist.  But today was different because people believed me when I told them the pain was bad.

And all of this is why, when the new doctor looked at me and said that my headaches sounded like migraines, I said, “Thank you.”  Thank you for believing me.  Because now other people do too.

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