Ice picks, chemistry, a doctor’s intervention and an opportunity

Ice Picks

I sit on the couch, eyes barely opened, the TV just white noise in the background. There’s an ice pick stabbing me over my right eye and another one stabbing me up through the base of my neck, also on the right side. The migraine isn’t literally killing me, but it does make me wonder if there’s an ax among the ice picks so I can cleave off the right side of my head because I’m sure that would hurt less.

Instead, I wait. Not patiently, not gracefully, but a tortured “when will this end” wait. I sit still, every few minutes reminding myself to take a deep breath and relax, sometimes rocking a little bit because the motion is soothing.

As the drugs finally start taking effect, I can feel the ice picks loosing their hold. As though someone is carelessly pulling the ice picks out of my head, I still get shocks of pain, but overall the agony is slowly ebbing and I know that relief isn’t too far away.

Afterwards, I lay slumped on the couch, TV still murmuring in the background, tired from my fight even though I barely moved a muscle. I take a deep breath, relishing having my body back and grateful that it didn’t take all night.


As bad as the episode this week was, as I always say — better living through chemistry. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even have a 50/50 chance of stopping a headache from turning into a migraine, but then my doctor and I finally found the migraine drug that almost always stops the situation above from happening; it cuts the headache down in its tracks. And the quality of life boost from this has been enormous since I typically will deal with headaches for about 9 days out of every month — starting 2 days before my period and ending two days afterwards. Predictable, yes, but welcome? Not at all.

The last time I tried to get my prescription refilled, I unexpectedly found out that my doctor had left for California and hadn’t left me a referral to another doctor, which meant that I needed to find a new doctor ASAP — there’s nothing like the idea of going without my migraine medicine to make me not procrastinate on a task that I would normally ignore for months or years. Without any other guidance, I did what many do: I spun the doctor roulette wheel and blindly picked one of the names that came up. I went to see her this past week and unlike my luck when I’m at the casino, this pick turned out pretty good.

A Doctor’s Intervention

Imagine this: a doctor who not only listens, but talks with you instead of at you. I knew she probably had patients stacked up behind me, but I never felt like she was rushing me out of her office and she took the time to explain her expert opinions rather than leaving me with with questions. I was able to bring up all of my concerns — from whether my thyroid was a problem (possibly, but not bad enough to want to treat with medication), to a blood test that indicated a high risk of heart disease (best thing to do is treat with diet and exercise), and even the best way to deal with my hormonal migraines and inevitable monthly weight gain.

My doctor also brought up concerns of her own: my previous doctor had not mentioned that one of my blood tests showed that I was pre-diabetic. Well, so barely pre-diabetic that it’s like pre-pre-diabetic. But still — even being close to that line gave me a scare. It’s one of those things that other people have, not me. I’ve always been an athlete, always been relatively healthy, but apparently that was far enough in my past that this disease that was always an “other people” disease was now something I have to call my own. Luckily, as with the heart disease risk factors, this is something that is totally within my ability to control through diet, exercise and losing some weight. Of course – this falls into the simple, but not easy category. The Oreos in my cupboard back me up on this.

So, between my doctor and me, we came up with a strategy. One of the challenges I’ve been facing with weight loss is that I keep bouncing around the same 4-5 pounds. I lose it over the course of 2-3 weeks and then gain it all back again when I have my period. Part of it is the normal bloating (sorry, TMI!), but a lot of it is constantly having a headache and that pushes me to eat bland, carby, sugary stuff. And not only that, but the headaches make working out miserable, so I’m effectively sitting on a couch eating bon-bon’s for 9 days a month. Not a very effective weight loss method, now, is it?

How to get around this? Well, since menopause doesn’t seem to be in my near future, the next step is birth control pills to stop me from getting a period at all. The theory is that without the monthly headaches and weight gain, I can bounce myself out of this cycle and really start making some headway. A little bit of sustained progress is good for the soul. And the belly, in this case. And the idea of being able to avoid probably 90% of my headaches? I’d give the right side of my head for that.

And An Opportunity

But as you all know, the weight — that number on the scale — isn’t really what I’m focused on. What I really want is to be healthy and fit and in shape. I want my athletic life back. No surprise there, I know; I’ve been talking about this for awhile now, though progress has been a lot of one step forward, one step back. It’s like a going nowhere tango.

And as you ALSO know, I love numbers and tracking and data and spreadsheets. It’s why calorie counting is always effective for me — if I can track it, I’m a superstar at making those numbers look good. Of course, my downfall is that I always eventually tire of the part where I have to log everything — that part I’m bad at — if the numbers could appear magically (someone needs to invent a way to track the calories we eat automatically) then I’d be golden.

And here’s where an opportunity comes in that I’m cautiously excited about. When I got home from the doctor, I was wiling away time online (because that’s how I react to being told to eat well and exercise more — I sit on the couch and play on my computer) and one of my tech magazines had an article about a new 3-D body scanner that was going to be coming out. I know! How cool, right?

A company called Naked is taking pre-orders for their in-home body scanner. You stand in front of a mirror, a disk (that doubles as a scale) spins you around and you get a 3-D model of your body with measurements and body fat analysis done automatically. Over time you can compare your 3-D models to see progress you’re making. How awesome does that sound?

I’ve emailed them to see if I can be a beta tester (I wouldn’t get to keep the unit, but I’d get my hands on it much sooner than everyone else!) and it sounds like they might be interested. This makes my data-tracking, weight-loss seeking, techy heart all warm and fuzzy. I’ve already put in my pre-order (I’m impulsive like that) and if you’re impulsive like that too, here’s my referral code if you want to use it. I get $50 if you use it, but feel free not to use it — that’s fine by me.

(And oh, aside from the referral code, I don’t have any stake in the company, have never used any of their products and am just excited about what looks to be a cool new toy to play with)



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