It turns out that there's something better than Tylenol #3 for my headaches ... and it's called Tylenol #4. It's twice as strong as Tylenol #3, which means it's hella scary strong and therefore not prescribed lightly, but it should knock my headaches on their metaphorical asses. I can cut the pills up & take only as much as I need, but this should mean that I won't spend more wee hours in despairing pain. I started crying when the doc told me about Tylenol #4 this morning, because it was such a relief to learn there was something stronger that wouldn't endanger my kidneys. I'd been thinking I might just have to shut up and deal with it, that there might be nothing else that could be done.
The doc I saw this morning (Dr. Fitzer, who I adore) also advised me that there's almost always an answer. They can have a medication made up specially for a patient if necessary, using whichever ingredients they deem appropriate for that individual (I guess this is what pharmacists learn in school? not just how to be rude?). He pointed out that something like that is expensive, but there is almost always an answer ... it's just a question of whether you want to spend the money.
Dr. Fitzer is quite convinced that my headaches are not, in fact, being caused by my cataract/vision problems. He said that he thought it very significant when I mentioned that I keep getting woken up in the night by these terrible headaches. Why should I get terrible headaches during the night, when I'm not using my eyes? That doesn't mean that the headaches absolutely aren't cataract-related, but it does seem to make it less likely.
Headaches can, of course, be symptoms of kidney disease, but they usually only occur in Stage 5 (which is where lack of appetite, nausea, and fatigue tend to occur), while my lab numbers put me in Stage 3 (much better functioning).
Anyway, so Dr. Fitzer wants me to have some lab work done (to check for giant cell arteritis, a very frightening inflammation of the arteries which is extremely unlikely in my case but important to rule out) and go to see a neurologist. He was really quite insistent that he no longer believes that the headaches are related to the cataract.
So ... possibly yet another unrelated health issue. Yay!
But, hey, at least I have Tylenol #4, so when I wake up at 5 a.m. with stabbing pain in my temples, I'll be able to do something about it.
Shannon has identified something we sometimes call (with great irony) "Kimberly Hypochondria," which is hypochondria which isn't really hypochondria ... it's the fear of hypochondria, the second-guessing of one's own beliefs about the reality of one's health, the questioning of whether the problem lies in one's perceptions or in the phenomena being perceived. It's when you say (or think) it's hypochondria, but it isn't. To take one obvious example, a person experiencing Kimberly Hypochondria might believe that she's making a big whiney deal over a normal cold & refuse to go to the doctor just because she's coughing, only to eventually learn that she has been sitting around at home for weeks with a bad case of bronchitis.
So this past week I was experiencing some Kimberly Hair Hypochondria. Yeah, yeah, way less important than my headaches, but minorly distracting nonetheless.
I got my hair cut on Thursday, because it's been annoying me tremendously since the headaches got so frequent. I can no longer wear any kind of headband or hat, and even scarves tied around my hair will give me headaches unless they are so loose that they won't really stay in place. Even pinning my hair back with clips can cause headaches if I don't do it very carefully, making sure that none of my hair is pulling in any way. (A normal, usually extremely comfortable headband can now give me a headache in less than 2 minutes.)
So my hair has been pissing me off, because it's now very difficult to keep it out of my face. I've been looking for solutions, and I'm going to try some loosely-crocheted, lightweight, slouchy beret/beanie hats, but I also seriously considered getting all my hair just chopped off. This seemed drastic, though, when I'm of course hoping that the headache situation will be rapidly resolved and I can go back to wearing my beloved wide headbands, and so I decided that I would stick with the slouchy hat plan for the moment, and just go get the standard hair trim I'd been planning for this month, rather than going the Sinead O'Connor route.
I went to a salon I hadn't been to before, because the familiar cheapo place a block away had a 15-minute wait when I happened to pass by, and this place (Studio 19) was able to take me immediately & cost about the same.
I thought I told this hair-cutting-lady (I hesitate to use the term "stylist") fairly clearly what I wanted (I've noticed the other stylists who've discussed my hair always used the term "long layers," so I said that to this woman, but she just looked kind of blank. I admit I was a bit worried, even then.), but she didn't do the stuff I'm used to people doing when they cut my hair in this style I've had for the past several months. When she said she was done & I put my glasses back on (this is always the frightening moment of getting a haircut, even a trim but I guess someday this might not be true, after cataract surgery), I saw that my hair wasn't at all the way I wanted. It had pretty much no layering and looked awfully close to a frizzy, wildly-wavy, chin-length bob. Um ... no. I have a square face & will never wear a chin-length bob, and anyway that's not at all what I requested. So I gave her a bit more guidance & insisted that she fix it, and she put in some layers, and I put my glasses back on. She showed me the front & showed me the back, and it wasn't exactly what I had wanted or expected, but it seemed acceptable.
Later that day, while just going about my normal life, I kept noticing that my hair felt kind of weird. I thought maybe it was just that it was shorter than I was used to. "Maybe I'm just imagining that it's weird," I thought. But when I glimpsed myself by chance in the bathroom mirror when I was leaning over the sink & I saw the left side of my head, I thought, "That looks really wrong." The very front part of my hair was much longer than the part right behind it. (Lisa described it as looking like there was a "hole" in my hair. Just this wide short place between where two different sections were considerably longer.) But I wondered if maybe this was actually the way the cool kids were wearing their hair these days & I just had no sense of style. (You darn hair-cutters get off my lawn!)
Regardless of who had what sense of style, I simply didn't like the haircut, so I went back to the salon today & told them I wanted the front part to be layered to blend in better with the rest. The woman who had cut my hair on Thursday was there, but it was another, older woman (she seemed like the boss) who took me to a chair and got started on my miserable mop. The woman who had initially cut my hair was in the same room with us, bustling about, the whole time Boss Lady was working on my hair, but this didn't stop Boss Lady from speaking her mind quite bluntly. Apparently, I was given a really awful haircut on Thursday. Boss Lady did a lot of work on me. Amazingly, she didn't actually make my hair visibly shorter — despite the amount of cutting she did — it just looks better. Less like I cut it myself with a pair of kindergarten safety scissors in dim lighting. Without a mirror.
Boss Lady pointed out a few particular places where it apparently looked like the employee had gone at my head with a weed-whacker, where things were just radically uneven and choppy. In fact, there was one particular spot (the area right behind that long front part on my left, the area that I thought looked so weird when I glimpsed it in the bathroom mirror) that Boss Lady held up several times over the course of our time together, lamenting repeatedly that this particular section was ridiculously short, like only a moron would have cut this one patch of hair so much shorter than the rest.
In the end, my hair looked a lot better, but Boss Lady (her name is actually Monique) matter-of-factly admitted that there wasn't anything she could do about that one patch of hair, because it was so short that she couldn't make anything else blend in with it without just making things look bad on a larger scale. Her final advice was to give it some time to grow out some, then come back in and let her finish fixing it for me. In the meantime, she advised me to wear the front part clipped back to cover the problem area while it grew.
So sad! "All you can do is wait for it to grow." What a sad hair situation that is. Once upon a time, that would have really bothered me, but today it just made me chuckle. I'm like a 3-year-old with a bald patch as a result of deciding to give herself a makeover.
I felt a tiny bit bad for the employee, hearing herself dissed so bluntly for half an hour or so, but I also felt a lot of other emotions: righteous indignation that this woman had apparently commited a hairstyling crime upon my person, gloating pleasure that I'd been right about the haircut looking weird (gloating over who? myself? I'm so weird.), annoyance that I'd had to return & basically sit through an entire second haircut in the space of 3 days, etc.
So now my hair looks better than it did this morning, but I still have to clip it back. So those loose-fitting slouchy hats might still come in handy.
Until the headaches go away, of course. Which will be any day now. Because I'm probably just blowing them out of proportion, right?
Kimberly Hypochondria? What's that?
Now that I have the Tylenol #4, I'm hoping I can actually get some sleep tonight. The past two nights have seen me ghosting around the house for hours while Shannon is sleeping, because my head is hurting so bad that I have to try to distract myself & not just lie in bed & feel it.
Sleep tonight! That's the plan!