Several years ago, I sat on the bare oak floor of what was soon to be my former living room, exhausted from a week of packing, watching movers hauling the last cartons of books out to join our furniture in their boxy moving truck.
Late-afternoon sunlight washed across the polished boards, caught the swirling ridges of the stuccoed walls, and stood on the threshold of the beautiful green-tiled porcelain kitchen counter, the brave flying flowers of the wallpaper I’d chosen, and the ice-cream-parlor tiled floor. I had worked as a packer for a moving company in my twenties, and since then have approached my many moves head-on (even after the time, during college, when a friend with a pick-up declared that it was the last time he’d help me move, as I had way too many books), packing and sorting and readying for whatever new adventure beckoned.
But now, as I sat on the floor, aching all over, listening to the phone ring in another room, I realized that those days were long gone. I saw my husband’s feet approaching. He said, holding out the phone, a puzzled look on his face, “This woman thinks you’re in pain.”
I took the phone, laughing, wondering who in the world would be asking for money with such a ploy. Evidently, she’d gotten past my skeptical husband. “Hello?”
The woman said that she hoped she wasn’t bothering me, but that she had called because she knew I was in pain, and wanted me to write about it. I laughed even more, telling her that I was, indeed, in terrific pain. I’d been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, had osteoperosis, chronic bursitis, and who knows what all, which had been exacerbated by my recent extreme exertion, though I didn’t mention any of that. She continued, serious.
Her name was Lenore Dunsing, and she said that she was the editor of THE PAIN PRACTITIONER, a quarterly put out by the American Association of Pain Practitioners. What really hooked me was that she said that she knew that I was in pain because she read my novels, and that she wanted me to write about it for the journal.
“I know you have migraines because you write about them so accurately,” she told me.
Indeed, several of my characters in CRESCENT CITY RHAPSODY and LIGHT MUSIC have severe migraines, which begin when they are children. The migraines are a symptom of greater changes in the environment, as well as of the exact time of their conception, but that is fictional. I’d never said anything about myself, personally, but she saw through the fan dance and realized I couldn’t be making the up the descriptions.
That was the very last phone call we ever recieved in the house. Fifteen minutes later, we unplugged the phones, went to a nice hotel for our last night in town, and I, for one, became extremely irritated when they would not serve us dinner in their dining room because we did not have the proper attire with us, despite my telling them that most of our clothes were fifty miles down the road, en route to our next abode.
I continued to correspond with Lenore, who was fascinating, by phone and email, and finally produced the piece for her, which appeared in THE PAIN PRACTITIONER, Volume 16, Number 3, Fall 2006. The journal is an artistically beautiful magazine, and Lenore chose some of Cara Weston’s beautiful black and white photographs to illustrate “The Headache, My Unwanted Companion.”
You can read “The Headache, My Unwanted Companion” by clicking on http://www.aapainmanage.org/literature/PainPrac.php and then on the cover of the Fall 2006 issue, HEAD PAIN, and scrolling till you come to my piece. You can see more of Cara Weston’s stunning photographs at http://carawestonphotography.com/ . Lennie Densing is now the Executive Director of AAPM.
A very pleasant postscript to this is that about a year ago the headaches that had plagued me for ten years suddenly vanished. I no longer worry, when I step out of the house, whether I have some medication with me. Don’t know why, but I am happy.
August 21, 2009 1 Comment
Bill Moyer’s show next week (August 28th) is going to excerpt parts of this documentary. I have not seen it, nor have I read Maggie Mahar’s book, MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE. http://www.moneydrivenmedicine.org/ has links to her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, and other interesting links. I’m going to get the book, and I’ll report back.
August 21, 2009 No Comments