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Vicki Gundrum

chronic pain, Guest Posts, Surviving

My Moveable Feast

March 14, 2016
pain

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.  —Ernest Hemingway

By Vicki Gundrum

A Moveable Feast is the only book of Hemingway’s I’ve read, and I’m nourished by the idea of memories. I know it’s more than Paris—it’s driving the ambulance in the Spanish Civil War, catching swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico, gazing on the Snows of Kilimanjaro, swimming in your Key West pool with your gay friend Tennessee.

I’ve lived a life like that, moving up, around and through the world like a hawk on an updraft. It was good and scary, and I collected three concussions.

***

My neurologist watched my face change into a Picasso. An eye shrunk and moved, a puzzle piece that should no longer fit, but face tectonic plates shifted to accommodate. My left eye teared. My doctor stared. She said, I’m watching you have a cluster headache. It’s not hemiplegic is it?

I told her I felt the pain behind my left eye but that the headache would become full bore on all parts of my head and face. She said she’d never before watched a cluster headache form. I didn’t say congratulations but I could tell she was excited. She grabbed me by my shoulders and led me to a room with a mirror in it so I could also see the transformation in my face, a reflection of the cluster in bloom. There, do you see your tiny eye there? Or was it my pupil that fascinated.

She rendered her diagnosis with the pride of competence: You are having both transformed cluster headache and transformed migraine, chronic and daily. I asked what transformed meant.

It means you don’t need a trigger.

Oh, I thought my trigger list was merely huge and unavoidable.

My doctor injected nerve blocks behind each eye and prescribed prednisone to break the cluster of clusters—for I’d had a Spring of them. I made another appointment with her but it never happened because she quit the HMO for private practice. Continue Reading…