In some strange confluence of events, I have four things related to headaches I wanted to share with you guys. So, get your Excedrin handy and dive in!
My interview on the Migraine Again podcast.
I had a lovely conversation with Paula Dumas from the Migraine Again podcast recently. We talked about pain and suffering and, wait, please don’t go away! We also talked about how humor helps when you have a chronic illness. They were real pros during the recording session, so I’m assuming the final thing turned out well, but I abhor listening to or watching recordings of myself, so I can’t confirm that as a fact.
They’ve covered several other interesting topics in their archives which I’m working my way through as I try to mange all 58 podcasts I’m subscribed to. That’s not a joke, y’all. There are 58 podcasts in my Pocket Casts subscriptions list, and I think I’ve favorited 400 episodes that I haven’t gotten to yet. I need help, or just a really long daily commute.
Someone in the comments on the last post asked for an update on my headache, probably because they listened to the podcast. Well, for anyone who was curious, the headache is ok. It’s not gone, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. I still wish it would fuck off already, but I’m able to hold down a job and do regular tasks like go to the grocery and vacuum. Life would be better without it, no doubt, but I haven’t thought about killing myself for years. Yay!
As for what I’m doing, I’m on a tricyclic antidepressant and an anticonvulsant even though I am not depressed or convulsant. These seem to keep the pain down, though the tricyclic gives me dry mouth, which is crazy annoying no matter how much sugarless gum I chew or Biotene mouth spray I use. My dentist noticed it too because dry mouth leaves a noticeable plaque pattern on your teeth. Saliva protects you from cavities. So there you go, headaches are bad for your teeth.
I also use a device called Cefaly for the bad headaches. It’s a TENS device, and for those of you like me who had no idea what that is, it stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Basically, I slap an electrode on my forehead, put on a device that looks like a futuristic sci-fi headband, and press a button to start a 20-minute sequence that stimulates my trigeminal nerve with electricity.
You have to have a prescription from your doctor to purchase one. At first it kinda tickles, then it starts to hurt, and then it gets kinda zen and takes on a quasi-pleasant vibrating feeling. By the end of it, my trigeminal nerve feels semi-numb. I’ve used this in the evenings many times if my headache seems like it will make going to sleep difficult. It doesn’t make the headache go away, but it does bring it down a notch. By the way, is it just me, or is this photo below kinda creepy?
I also try to keep a regular sleep schedule, limit my caffeine intake, try to eat healthy, and I think very hard about exercising regularly though I don’t actually do that even though I know it would help. I am not a perfect person. I have also been known to drive to Walgreens at 9pm solely to get a bag of candy as a coping mechanism, but that’s probably not a great long-term strategy.
I’m not a doctor, so if you have a headache I don’t know if any of these things would help you. All I can say is I empathize with you and I hope you are as well as possible.
I also finally framed all those hilarious illustrations from the Chinese translation of my book and hung them on the wall. I do enjoy seeing them every day. So that helps too. I got an inexplicable, painful, chronic illness, but at least I got some hilarious illustrations out of it!
Basically, the headache is still here, it still sucks, but it doesn’t suck as hard as it used to, which is about all I can hope for at this point.
The 10-year anniversary of my headache is coming up on February 17. I feel like I should celebrate somehow, but I’m not sure what to do. I’m not celebrating the headache, just the fact that I’ve survived it this long. You haven’t killed me yet, you motherfucker!!! What best expresses that idea? Does it include cupcakes? I definitely want it to include cupcakes. Maybe we should get a cake and have them write “You haven’t killed me yet, you motherfucker!!!” on it, or maybe get the Chinese illustrations printed on one of those edible ink printers. I haven’t decided.
Out of my Head documentary showing at MOMA
I still get several press releases a week, mostly from PR people who don’t realize I haven’t blogged about weight loss for 7 years. I ignore most of them, but I was shocked and amazed to get one that was actually relevant! A documentary about migraine called Out of my Head will be showing daily at the Museum of Modern Art in New York during the last week of February, the 20th-26th. Tickets don’t go on sale until two weeks before each showing, but when they do you can get tickets here. I haven’t seen it, but the trailer looks good. It opens with Joan Didion saying, “Well, I have it right now,” which totally hooked me because I too have a headache right now and no one could tell it by looking at either of us. I’ve embedded the trailer below. If it comes to the Midwest I’d definitely check it out.
Thus ends the headache extravaganza post. I hope it didn’t give you a headache.