The neurology PA is not much of a negotiator. “No coffee, dairy, or alcohol,” she says.
“All my life I have worried that some doctor, somewhere, was going to tell me I couldn’t drink coffee or red wine, and this is that time,” I said. My third round of weeklong headache.
“There are all kinds of fabulous teas out there,” she said.
Tea is for sissies. And I am a writer. I’m already not an alcoholic, so how can I compete with say, Ernest Hemingway? Not with tea!
“And would you mind a B-12 injection?”
I would not. After paying a $50 copay, I feel a little let down if they don’t stick me. Let’s go.
Afterwards, I went to Whole Foods and bought an outrageously expensive vat of something that is supposed to make me feel better by putting it in the healthy smoothies that I don’t want to make. This vat, with its somber, copious scrawlings, practically screams, “Cures mysterious illness!”
It was the product intended for every shopper at Whole Foods with mysterious symptoms or diagnoses. It was something you could buy to make yourself feel better. You could buy. You could consume. You would be okay. Glug glug.
“Ooh, how many carbs are in that?” a woman behind me in line asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. And I didn’t care. I might be being scammed, but then again, I didn’t really mind. When a crazy drunk in a bar tells me a great story, which is probably a terrific lie, I’m happy because it was so entertaining. I don’t give a damn if it’s true. Likewise, if the protein powder made me feel like I was fixing myself, then I guess it was worth as much as a very nice bottle of wine. Truth is in value, in the moment, not literalism.
The world of migraine is a world of fear. My morning juice is too sugary! My coffee is poison, further polluted with half and half! My house could be crawling with mold! Walking around the grocery store, everything looked delicious and forbidden. Glorious, thick cow’s milk! Aisles of red wine, each bottle’s heart beating fondly for me! I popped a cute champagne-blonde cheese sample in my mouth, even though I’m not so fond of cheese, just to show my doctor who was boss.
No, not fear: adventure. I spent 33 years in the dull realm of ibuprofin and Excedrin, and near-perfect health, but now my body is an exotic pharmacological playground. It’s like I’ve moved from Kansas to the Caribbean. Wild new sensations, vocabulary, landscapes, characters. I may have moved there permanently– hard to say– so await further dispatches. There is a giant whale of occasional head pain that swims by, and I am attempting to kill or capture it. With greater success, I hope, than the protagonist of my dear hero, Mr. Melville, but with all that vim and vigor, and enthusiastic wordplay.