Off with this headache

In the thick of a flock of migraines. Have gone off caffeine and alcohol, in hopes that’ll help, and now am getting caffeine withdrawal headaches too. I swear there are times I just want to cut this damn head off, remove th’offending spot.

That would be extreme. It’s just, I’ve thrown a lot at this, to not so much effect. Acupuncture, chiropractic, immunotherapy, massage, exercise regime, the pharmakopolis. I’m trying, as I gear up for a new round of efforts, to cut back on the whining to myself and others, and just settle into the fact of a chronic condition. It’s painful and dismaying, but not terminal or debilitating. And it’s been with me decades, though for a long time I didn’t know its name, so it’s not the new insult it keeps feeling like.

Occurs to me to remember, when the Buddha saw and said life is suffering, and he or someone called it a Noble Truth, the adjective wasn’t extra, it isn’t just advertising. It’s noble because it helps.

It’s not quietism either. So I’m looking forward to meeting my new angels of approach as they wing towards me in the mail. One’s here:


CBD oil! Derived from hemp and legal to ship across state lines because it has only trace amounts of THC. Hard to find good rigorous studies backing up all the claims made for it but the anecdotal evidence is awfully promising – for migraine, also ADHD, which I gots too.

If this shit works, I may be entering the strange wondrous world of medical marijuana, which I’d never of thought. CBD, THC, edibles, oils, ointments, oh my. Last time I smoked the stuff, summer before last, way stronger than anything I’d before, my body disassembled itself, and my mind went after. All the limbs were there, all the mental functions were proceeding, but there was no unity holding them together. I wasn’t ready for that and got real scared. Also though, next day, I was less fearful than’s my wont, bounding across narrow logs high above the river we hiked along. Still, didn’t think I’d ever, again. But who knows that sort of thing, really.

I will sit on the back steps vaping from a steel pen wearing my futuristic trigeminal neurostimulator:


The yellow tendrils are the trigeminal nerve – its overactivity triggers migraines and cluster headaches. (When I saw this picture I almost started crying with relief. It was just these parts of my face that wanted, oh so much, to rest.) The device, says its maker, Cefaly, sends out an electrical signal that “progressively restores a normal metabolism in the fronto-temporal cortex of migraineurs, [and] improves the migraine-triggering threshold, which consequently reduces the frequency of migraine attacks.” FDA approved. Not covered by insurance plans for which WA State foots the bill. But well worth the $500 if it makes my lines as smooth as his up there are.

Speaking of smooth lines, the third thing I’m lining up to try is Botox injections – the botulism (Clostridium botulinum) toxin, used since 2002 to remove facial wrinkles, has also been found to relieve migraines, through its neurotransmitter blocking effects. Injections in 31 prescribed sites, such as:

Again just looking at where they are brings me relief – weird.

And that’s my headache chronicle. I hope next time I write about migraines here, on what’s ostensibly a poetry and teaching blog, though in 2016–2017 the headache of Trump’s America, its prospect and actuality, came front and centre, right where on the face migraines dwell, sorry for this sentence I’ve been reading Sebald, who is as infectious as he is inimitable, it will be to write with good news, about my headaches, or America’s, or this world’s.

Grrr on health care

Shitty news in the mail today.


First third post-it, “Thanks lots” was “FUCK YOU.”

Even as revised, glad it’s not searchable. Yay post-its.

That said, am mad enough to post it goddamn everywhere. After a whole afternoon feeling pissed as hell about my second-class status at work, thinking well at least I have good health insurance – bam, the thing I need it for, taken.

I’ve had these headaches for years, I soldier up and teach through them, meds come at a personal cost almost not worth it, thought I was on track to ease out of them. Fucking fuck.

Someone should start a religion about how bad luck comes in flocks, and it’s okay, or something. Oh one did, and I signed on. Not doing very good at staying on right now. Though shouting FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING BASTARDS to my empty house does seem to have cleared the migraine I was in all day.

Anyway. It is health care rationing. Cloak of reason, cloak of clinical evidence, whatevs. It’s market forces pretending not to be, pretense of disinterest. GAH. It’s about the money, assholes, so say so.

I am so selfish. I am, and that sickness, no insurance can cover, it’s on me. But my headaches, you jerks, could you? I have a little good to give, and it goes to my students, whom I do love and you did hire me to teach.

I give more and better when I’m not in pain, right, you get that?

If I put it as a calculation, a trade of commodities, do you get it?

“Jerks,” “assholes” – stop. It’s like road rage. You can be mad at a car as long as the person in it’s an abstraction. (That abstraction is the same sort of abstraction money is. I’m doing what I’m accusing of.) Whoever’s made this decision is caught in the same web I am. It’s just, it hurts, and it’s going to hurt a bit more, in head body or pocket, and I want someone to lash out at for it.

Why you shouldn’t post in the heat of the moment. People have lost their homes in Santa Rosa and others are drinking water from hazardous waste sites in Puerto Rico. (And that’s abstract to me.) My troubles are what. Low-level chronic pain is tough, yes, and I’m in it. (And it’s concrete to me. Arg.) Loss of almost every material thing you own is tough too. Abandonment by your arrogant government is tough three.

I have a bumpersticker: IMPEACH. The rest is self-explanatory. But it has to mean, impeach the Trump in you – don’t be a blowhard, self-concerned, always putting the wrong on others.

I can’t impeach Trump! (Oh if only.) I can though impeach the Trump in me.

Sorry, Washington State Health Care Authority, the people who make you up. I think as an abstract entity you’ve done a dumb thing. It does me a modest amount of harm – I’ll have to cut into precious savings to get the treatment I want and need. But the people who make you up, I’m sorry. I forgot you were there behind the glass as you drove by.