Friday, August 18, 2006

play me for a fool

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When I start to mentally compile the list of times my desire to prevent migraines has inspired me to try something new, I find there are many times I have been left feeling like a fool. Then I start to wonder. I wonder how many experiences, opportunites, and little pleasures my husband and I have given up in our lives so I could try all these things. I wonder why I feel like a fool for having had hope. And I wonder if I'll ever feel so angry and disillusioned at feeling as though I've been taken for a ride - again - that I say no more.

Where it began

It started with seeing a chiropractor. I'd heard people say seeing one helped their migraines, so although I read that no studies had shown any benefits of chiropractic care for migraineurs, I asked my primary care physican for a referral and made the appointment.

It all sounded so good at the first visit. My husband went with me, and we watched a video on chiropractic care and had a meeting with a doctor. The doctor was enthusiastic and sure she could help me. We were both excited and filled with hope. Had I known then what I know now, I'd have left the room and never returned. I now realize that no one can be that sure about anything, least of all treating migraine disease.

I received three treatments a week for three months. I was lucky that I only had to pay a $30 co-pay each time. When it was all said and done, I was no better and out around $1,000, according to my calculations.

One pill makes you larger

Of course, my experiences aren't limited to alternative and complimentary medicine. Take the number of preventative medications I've tried. I've been on about 50 of them in the past three years. I've tried Depakote, Topamax, Neurontin, Zonegran, and Nortriptyline, just to name a few of the biggies - and the ones that seemed most promising.

I'm currently on Cymbalta (twice daily), Benicar, Toprol, and a vitamin B complex. Periodically I find myself wondering how my life would really be different if I chucked them all tomorrow and never took another pill. Would I be worse? Better? I'm sick now, and I imagine I'd be sick tomorrow. Is the approximately $125 I spend monthly on preventatives a good use of my money? I have no idea and no guide by which to measure this.

In the past few years, we have almost completely foregone vacations, dinners out, movies, CDs, clothes, and many other things that used to be routine in our lives because of the financial constraints caused by my condition. We have both less to work with and less choice of how to allocate what we do have. It can be stressful to make ends meet, and it feels as though most things that used to add fun and enjoyment to our lives have fallen by the wayside.

I'm not sure if I've made the right choices. Every time an option presents itself, I jump. It is oh so tempting to change course and take a totally minimalist approach to the disease. We could use the money we save to do something completely indulgent and thrilling. Regular vacations might even help me more than this pile of medications. Yet, I fear I will always be too guilty and filled with "what ifs" to ever make my daydream a reality.

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