Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What ails me

When I last wrote, I complained that I was having headaches every day. The good news is, since then I only had one headache, but unfortunately it lasted for an entire week.

Naturally, my first self-diagnosis was brain cancer, but I think the cause actually is really, really tight shoulders. So, now I'm back to the "relax harder" protocol.

I took last Monday and Tuesday off and couldn't get in to see my doctor until Thursday. She prescribed a home traction kit, therapeutic massage and a muscle relaxer.

The drug did nothing. The traction thing (which I could not even figure out how to assemble, thus intensifying the headache), as it turned out, has a chin strap attached via pulley to a bag of water. A chin strap. That goes around my chin. Pulling on the temporomandibular joint. Right, so I can't use that.

Internet investigation reveals that what I really want is a $300 pneumatic device, but I can't decide the best place to get one, except, like eBay, and I don't think my insurance will cover that. Nor can I arrange to have it delivered at 11 p.m. Saturday.

The therapeutic massage thing got equally confusing. My doc referred me to a physical therapist that I had seen before ... except she'd moved to a new location, so the doc sent the referral to that place. But when I called to make an appointment, I'm told that they don't do massage therapy and since my physical therapist is new there, she's not covered by my insurance.

And I'm trying to remember, was I supposed to get physical therapy, or just a therapeutic massage? Because I already know what kind of exercises a physical therapist would make me do, so why pay $20 a session to be told again?

Then it occurs to me that perhaps actually doing some of those exercises could alleviate my pain.

It's all too much for me, so I spend my entire weekend sleeping, rather than try to figure it out.

On the drive to work yesterday, I wonder why I'm even bothering to go in, and once I arrive, decide it was a mistake and go home. However, I don't crawl into bed, but actually get some for-work reading done in the backyard, while the dog chases bugs. I check the work email and am just slightly productive. And relaxed. Start to feel the headache release, just a little.

While I would love to credit the backyard and the dog with curing me, it probably has more to do with the "medical massage" I had last night. Not that it was at all relaxing. What it entailed was a dude poking my head and neck, trying to find the spots that hurt. "Is this tender? No?" (pokes harder) "How about now?"

This however, made clear that the vice-like grip on my skull is coming from the ropy parts of my neck. It was the kind of massage that requires next-day icing, but I am feeling much better today.

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