Feeling bad (and not going down the road)

It started like most important events in history–over a pan full of marinara sauce. Actually, the marinara was to my right, simmering on my flat top range. I was mixing some baby spinich with an assortment of lettuces and some parmesean cheese. Rather than work too hard on Tuesday, I decided to make dinner for my family. It had been a long summer already. Six weeks on the road, followed by a death in the family and a dog which may or may not have had skin cancer, but had surgery to remove the bad spot regardless…yeah, it had been a long summer.

I was washing the spinich when the first bolt of pain shot through my head.

“Damn it,” I muttered. I’ve had these shooting pains in my head since I was a kid. They are exceptionally painful and I’ve never found a kind of pain with which I can compare what happens. This time, the pain started near my right ear and shot out toward the back and front of my head. The good thing is, these pains usually last for half an hour and then disappear for several months. However, during that half an hour, they’re super painful. I’ve even researched pain relief that I could take for these shooting pains; I did come across CBD, specifically, CBD Capsules, that are known to be excellent pain relievers. Perhaps I’ll look more into these if the pain continues.

Only thing was, this time they didn’t stop. They got worse. Then they got more frequent. By 9pm, I was laying on the floor with a heated bag of corn kernels on my head. By 1am, I was holding my son’s teething rings against my temple. By 3am, I was wrapped up in a version of the fetal position on my bed. By 3:30am and under duress, I was in the emergency room. The pains were coming about every two or three minutes. As a way to ignore the pain, I started pretending the pains were contractions and my brain was about to birth an alien.

In the waiting room, I remembered why I had avoided the ER for so long. Around me were people who felt a sore toe or a mild cold was reason enough to go to the ER. What’s more, there were people who were just there to scam drugs. Suddenly, I felt like one of those people.

“Oh, look at him,” I imagined them saying, “he’s here because of a headache. Wonder what kind of pain killers he is looking for?”

I wished I had a DVD of the past three years of my life. It would’ve been easier than explaining to doctors that my father nearly died from an aneurysm and that one of my good friends died after a blood vessel in an unknown brain tumor burst. In both cases, I remember doctors saying, “If you are experiencing the worst headache of your life, go to the ER immediately.”

So, I waited for several hours to go to the ER, and then waited for two hours after I got there before a doctor looked at me for a few minutes and shot me full of drugs–really, really good drugs. The doctor said I was showing no signs of any other problems. He mentioned possible tumors or menengitis, but said it didn’t look like I had any other symptoms.

So, for the past twelve hours of pain, I had experienced a worried wife, a sleepy kid, a doctor who was obviously at the end of his shift, and a lady nurse who wondered if I wanted both shots in the same side of my ass or of she should spread the pain around a little (I chose to have both shots in one cheek, which, in retrospect, was a bad idea).

Due in part to the continuing pain, and due in part to some neat drugs called Meprozine, I lost nearly all of Wednesday. I know I woke up briefly around dinner time, ate some leftover lasagna and recommended a few friends for some jobs. Other than that, I pretty much don’t remember the day. All I know is that every time the pills wore off, I was in pain again.

Apparently, during the drugged up period, I also agreed to see my regular doctor on Thursday if the pain hadn’t stopped. So, when I woke up on Thursday, I forgot to lie and say I felt better. Half an hour later, I was in the doctor’s office.

I go to the doctor about once every ten years on average. I go if I have to (read: insurance physical or otherwise) or if I think I might die. As such, I had seen this doctor once before. When we again met, I had forgotten how much he looked like an Indian version of George Jefferson. In fact, as the Meprozine was still wearing off, I had to fight myself to not ask him if Weezie was around.

I don’t understand doctors’ offices. They are a lot like the airport, I think. Where airlines want to get you on the plane and pushed back from the gate before you wait (so as to make sure their on-time departure records remain pretty), doctors’ offices move you from one waiting room to another waiting room, before making you wait in the exam room. As far as I know, there is no on-time departure record for doctors, so I assume there is some psychological experiment going on. Either that, or doctors are, indeed, sadists.

As I waited in the exam room, my eyes fluttered over the stainless steel garbage bin. Holy shit! As clear as day, I saw the Mona Lisa in the stainless reflection.

I quite literally rubbed my eyes. I was finally worried about myself. While I had been in a lot of pain in the past 72 hours, I had not experienced any hallucinations before then. The Mona Lisa! When I opened my eyes again, relief washed over me. It wasn’t the Mona Lisa after all. It was the Virgin Mary.

Everybody sees her, I thought, and went back to waiting.

When the doctor finally arrived (in my head, it was to the tune of “Movin’ on Up” played on a sitar) he examined me and asked about stress in my life. Now, I’m not one of these people that believes in stress-related pain, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little as I ran down my list for the summer. He nodded and told me I needed to have a CT scan later in the day.

All of that, and he didn’t even offer to walk on my back.

The good news is, I had my CT scan yesterday about this time and nobody has called to say I’m dying. Further, the shooting pains have given way to a dull headache and a continuing case of tinnitus. While not great, I have managed to control the headaches as best I can using a combination of magnesium supplements and essential oils – I read that both can help on Treatheadaches and must admit they’ve helped me a lot. Thankfully, I can at least sit up and don’t have to be on anything stronger than a prescription version of Excedrine Migraine.

Also, as it turns out, the dog did have skin cancer, but such a mild version that the surgery she had likely got rid of it all and I should have no reason to worry.

What? Me worry?

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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11 Responses

  1. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    And I thought I was worried about you in Vegas!

  2. Damn dude, try not to die on us. OK? Seriously.

  3. take your foot off the accelerator, man. time to coast for a while.

  4. Um, let’s see, life changing events, real job, paid job, new job, dad in hospital, new son, never see family, dog cancer, and grandfather. You, The Wife, and Lil’ Otis, go to the beach and enjoy life. You of all people, should know when to kick back, go to the Trinity of Leisure have a Corona, enjoy your wife, and teach your kid the guitar. Go on now, git.

  5. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself (so to speak) and are feeling better.

  6. Everybody sees the Virgin Mary! Even with a killer headache you can be funny.

  7. Anonymous SadBetty says:

    Movin’ On Up on the sitar???? Man, I WANT some of what you took… Hey, get better and take care of yourself…

  8. This stuff is right up my alley.

    As you may remember, I’m a radiologist. Here are a couple things you need to know.

    1. Just because no one called you with the results doesn’t mean anything. Often times, primary care doctors can’t translate what radiologists say. It’s why I talk in plain terms. That, and I’m a simpleton.

    2. Even if the CT is normal (overwhelmingly likely), with your history, you should probably get an MRI/MRA (family member with an aneurysm).

    3. Most doctors ARE sadists. It’s a way to punish our patients for forcing us to go to 13 years of higher education and incur $500K in debt while our buddies were playing poker.

  9. Anonymous Su says:

    Do what Frankie said.
    Love, Su

  10. Anonymous Grace says:

    I am sorry for your loss.

    I stumbled across your site and story and I am glad I did. You are a terrific writer. And I love the words “There is just enough randomness to make it exciting. There is just enough control to make it beautiful.” Wow.
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. The blogging community needs you, Otis. So just focus on getting better. And on getting us some of those “really good” drugs.

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