3/07/2003

Migraines and the People They Hurt

I'm a pretty hip guy. I think I've got a pretty good beat on what kids these days are interested in. The health care industry, right? Don't go disgustedly tossing the paper to the ground in contempt just yet. Wait until you're done reading. Maybe not too many people our age are worried about the medicinal state of our country these days, but after a recent trip to the doctor's office, I've discovered that we very well should be.

I know it isn't like me to shamelessly share intimate details of my life via the print medium, but in this case, it is necessary for to convey the full scope of the problem. The fact is, I am I migraine sufferer. For years, I've hidden this dark secret away, never letting anyone know the real me, ashamed of the truth.

When I first heard of migraines, I thought it was just a term pansies used to make their headaches sound more important than necessary. You know, just some hypochondriac overreacting to eating their ice cream too fast. Oh, how wrong I was. I'm not sure if you've ever had a migraine, so let me try and paint the picture of an attack for you.

Remember when you were a child and your head was soft and malleable? Maybe you ran full force, right smack into the edge of a desk with a sharp corner. If you can remember what that felt like, you're pretty close. My migraine package also comes with a vision loss option. Lucky me. It's completely random, too. One minute you're walking to class without a care in the world, fending off scores of female admirers, and suddenly everyone's face looks like a flash bulb going off and your head feels like it's hosting the heavyweight boxing championship. Basically, you're rendered completely incapacitated and you generally hate life.

Okay, so that's a bit off topic. The point is that I really needed to see the doctor and would be more than grateful to any person, divinity or magic herb that promised to relieve me of this ailment.

Anyway, I get to the office and I'm completely lost. I never know where to go or who to talk to. There is like a receiving line of nurses and assistants waiting behind the desk. I feel like I'm on ├ČLet's Make a Deal├« and I have one chance to pick the right door or else I lose and have to go home empty handed and hurt headed.

Luckily, I picked Nurse Number Three, so I got to see the doctor. Maybe it's just my neurotic ways (most likely), but I just don't feel like I can trust a diagnosis unless they have me take off my clothes. Usually, I'm just waiting to take something off. I'll tell the doctor my stomach hurts and my shirt is halfway off until he has to forcibly stop me. I just can't believe him unless I am in some way disrobed. I mean, anyone can just stand there, give you the once over look and say, "Take these every four hours and you'll be fine." It's piece of mind I'm after, really. Luckily, I was only there for a headache on this day.

Anyway, the point is, through my crusade, I was able to secure a prescription to help ease my migraines. So I pick up the prescription and inside the box are the pills and this tiny booklet with itsy bitsy writing on it. They must have crickets armed with tweezers to hand stencil this stuff, that's how small the writing is.

Every time I see lots of writing, I have to read it. Like I'm afraid that without reading it, I'll be taking part in a nonverbal agreement to give up both of my kidneys on the organ black market. So to play things safe, I bust out my own personal Hubble telescope and try to decipher this microscopic print.

First of all, it's ridiculous enough that I'm 20 years old and yet still being given a manual for taking pills. "Oh put the pill in my mouth and THEN swallow. Ohhhh." What would I have done without that useful piece of information? Otherwise I'd probably be swallowing first, putting the pill in my eye and who knows what else. Thank you, Mr. Pill Instruction Book Writer Man.

Anyway, while perusing my pill handbook, I thought I'd check out the side effects section. Nausea? Eh. Aches? Oh well. Drowsiness? Cool. Headaches? I can deal with that. Wait. What? I mean- huh? Headaches? Now, there's something about headaches I'm supposed to remember. What was it, now? Oh yeah, that headaches are the reason I'm taking the damn medication in the first place.

I'm no laboratory chemist (not as far as the law is concerned at least), but if the medicine is being taken to relieve headaches and headaches are a side effect, then it isn't exactly working. As a matter of fact, they're just adding symptoms. That's like buying medicine to fight off the flu, and the side effects being flu-like symptoms and gonorrhea. Well, it's kind of like that. You get my point.

This is the primary kink in the health care industry today. Billions and billions of dollars are being poured into pharmaceutical companies to ease the suffering of an ailing. Yet all they really do is give you more problems to deal with. I am but a simple engineer and medicine is not my forte, but I suggest we rethink our approach to solving medical dilemmas and instead focus on what is bothering the patient and not what they have yet to suffer from.

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