My Takes

It's Just My Take

When Life Is A Really Big Headache

I have a big headache.  Well I don’t actually have one as we speak and but I do have big headaches.  Killer headaches I fondly call them. I would say they are pain in the you-know-where but they aren’t, just in the noggin.

This discomfort all started in 2008 when against my better judgement, I put down the remote,  closed the laptop and gobbled down the last bite of my big mac and went running.  Yes, running.  As in one leg trying to get away from the other.  Never in recent memory could I remember ever traveling faster than the speed of walk unless in situations where I had to choose flight over fight. (Thanks to an overworked metabolism, I still managed to look deceivingly fit).

My new-found passion was fueled by my some co-workers who were running in the Manitoba Marathon.  They wanted me to join the relay team.  I was running the second leg which was just over 8km.  8 kilometers????  Shouldn’t I have started training years ago? Maybe from birth?

While training, I noticed that I experienced bouts of headaches.  I paid no attention and managed to not only trained almost consistently but managed to complete my leg of the race. I did lazy bums proud!

The next year, armed with my new-found determination, I vowed to tackle the half marathon.  My training was torture.  At the end of my training runs, I was greeted by blinding headaches.  Finally I had had enough and consulted my quack doctor.  He in turn consulted a brain surgeon and a brain specialist, letting them know he had a head case on his hands.

My first batch of tests revealed unexplained grey spots on my brain.   (The grey spots on my head they could explain).  This then led to a  batch of MRI’s and CAT’s but unfortunately, a diagnosis still could not be made.  All they could say was that they were  not normal.  But, the scans also revealed that my left and right carotid arteries were abnormal. They were narrowing and ballooning in some parts, called beading.  They also had scars from tearing which suggested aneurysms. Gosh, I was falling apart at the seams.  Corroded carotid?     Tears in my arteries? I thought.  This sounds bad. Really bad.  My poor wife was distraught and thought her husband was done like dinner.

I spent the better part of the year doing test after test.  My worst ones were the procedure called carotid angioplasty.  A catheter was fed through an artery in my groin and all the way up through my carotid.  A very risky process indeed and I endured it twice in the same year.  I was terrified of having an MRI.  So terrified that they had to pull me out and sedate me as I was too panicked.  I now have a better understanding of what a loaf of bread feels like.  Or what a dead person feels like just lying there in their coffin and looking up at the top, mere inches from their face. Scary.

The worst part is that after enduring all those tests, nothing further could be determined.  Case closed head case.  But wait, what good doctor sends his patients away without his good bag of prescriptions? I was loaded up with Blood Pressure pills (the condition was suspected to have caused a spike in my bp) and blood thinners to keep my blood flowing through the narrowing of my arteries. I hate medications with a passion so imagine my dismay.

I recently started running again and to my disappointment, the pain in the noggin is back.  They come on with a vengeance after most of my runs or after engaging in any exercise activity.  I see with my specialist again in a week to make sure there are no changes in my corrosion and my greying grey matter.  We’ll see.

Now all this really gives me a sense of appreciation for everyday that I am blessed with and I am trying to live it with the realization that things could change at the drop of a hat.  I also have a deeper respect and understanding for people fighting cancer and other far greater life threatening diseases.  Sometimes it takes a wake up call for us to get our house in order.


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