A while back, while I was in my last cluster, I noticed a sharp increase in frequency, regularity and intensity of my cluster headache attacks. I talked to my doctor and said I wanted to try O2 and she told me to go and talk to a neurologist first. Turns out she referred me to one of two cluster headache specialists in the Netherlands. The doctor's name is Dr. Couturier of the Boerhave clinic in Amsterdam, and I recently had an appointment with him. It was emotional. It was enlightning.
He told me I was his 427th cluster headache patient. He was a fountain of knowledge. He confirmed that I am not, what he called, a "100% cluster patient," but thought that from my description that my cluster headaches were slowly maturing. He said it was possible that my clusters would appear more frequent, that the frequency of attacks could increase and that it could turn chronic, though the chance of that was small.
He asked me to detail my history, and I told him everything. He was particularly interested in the medication I had been perscribed. While I was telling him how I first had the subcutaneous immitrex injectors for my first cluster, and how I had been denied that medication and given all kinds of fairly useless other medication for each following cluster, leading to me demanding to get O2 and my subsequent arrival in his office, I got a little emotional. When I was done, he told me something that was such a sigh of relief, such a confirmation of all my frustration; he said that he got goosebumps while listening to my story. He called the denial of "the medication that [I] needed" mistreatment, he likened it to abuse.
He was quick to explain, however, that studies had shown that in the Netherlands, during the average career of a general practitioner, they would only encounter three cases of cluster headache patients and would rarely draw the right conclusions. He said that it was often misdiagnosed with migraines, but it's easy to differentiate from them by the urge that cluster patients have to move, while migrain sufferers just want to lay still and avoid any stimuli. When I said that I constantly rocked back and forth and didn't know what to do with myself due to the pain, he said something interesting; he said that it had nothing to do with the pain. He said that even if the pain element of a cluster attack would be removed, we'd still have the urge to move. It's the brain that provides the urge to move, not the pain.
He walked me through a lot of really interesting information like that, including a bunch of different medicinal options he had to fight the attacks and the pain during the attack. He had a waterfall scheme, starting at the most successful drug combination, and then choosing less savory alternates when the previous drug would no longer work or didn't have any affect. One of them was Lithium, which made me take a step back for a moment, considering how it's only used in really hardcore psychiatric treatment. He told me that one of the cases where Lithium has a lot of success is with people suffering from bipolar disorder. He said that, in a way, bipolar disorder falls in a similar category as cluster headaches, since they all have something to do with bio-rhythm. Same goes for the much perscribed Verapamil, which is usually given to people with a heart-rhythm problem.
He told me that I could call the office at any moment, ask them to book an appointment, and if I told them I was a cluster patient I'd be moved up to the front of the line due to the immediacy of the problem. He wrote me a perscription without a date on it, for quick release Verapamil and subcutaneous Sumatriptan injectors. So whenever my cluster would begin, I could run to the nearest pharmacy and get the medication I needed. I love this man. Finally a doctor who gets it.
Sometimes I find the weight of the knowledge that my father thought his proudest achievement in life were his children an unbearable responsibility.
I recently finished Mass Effect 2, which is one of the best games I've ever played, with some great writing, good voice acting, enormous depth and a great story. I found the Overlord DLC ending to be one of the best bits of gaming I've ever came across. I try to play through the game choosing the Paragon options as much as possible, and the paragon ending is bone-chilling. Just thinking about it gives me goose bumps.
Quiet, please make it stop.
Square root of 912.04 equals 30.2... it all seemed harmless.
Today, someone on Twitter retweeted the following message:
It's nice when hard work pays off. Luck is the residue of design.
Lately, I've seen more messages like this, that just strike me as patently false. Yes, it is nice when hard work pays off. But luck isn't a residue of anything. Luck, by its very nature, isn't something that can be influenced, it lies outside of your control. No matter how hard you work, or how well it pays off, luck was never anything you influenced by working hard. Working hard simply aligned the factors you could control, which is often very, very helpful.
I've spoken about this before, but I believe these statements come from a belief that wanting things hard enough will allow you to reach them, and that positive thinking will allow you to alter your life. The flip side to that belief is that people who don't reach their goals didn't really want it in the first place, and that if your life isn't what you want it to be, you just weren't thinking positively enough, or with enough earnest. I fully reject that idea.
Again, having a burning desire, or thinking positively, will align those factors that are within your sphere of control, but luck isn't one of these factors. Luck is a disconnected and unexplained factor. Perhaps one day in the future, when we have the capacity to predict everything, we'll rule out luck as an unknowable factor in the equation of succes, but until that time, the control freak in us needs to let go of the notion that we are the only master of our fate.
How many random people do you need to gather together, so that you'll have a fair probability (50+%) that two people share the same birthday? You need 23 people to cross the 50% mark. Intuitively, most people would guess you'd need many, many more people.
1 - ((1/365)^23) * (365 * 364 * 363 * 362 * ... * 343)) = 0,507297
People are intuitively very bad at judging probabilities. This is one of the reasons a lot of people look for metaphysical explanations of coincidences, the chances of which they feel are so small, that they believe it's not a coincidence at all. This could account for the high number of conspiracy theories out there (which, as anybody who knows me will attest to, I love), or religious or metaphysical experiences that people claim to have witnessed.
I shouldn't forget this. About myself as well as others.
I'm currently sitting in the train next to an old couple, probably sixty-somethings. They are discussing the bombing in Boston (fair enough), Second Life (okay, weird) and Lulzsec (what the fuck!?) Of course, a conversation like that isn't complete without home made sandwiches (cheese or jam) and a glass of milk. Either I've found the most adorable and best informed old couple in the Netherlands, or I'm an uninformed extra in a David Lynch film.
On twitter: "Nihao! RT @eva Oh wow. Amazing photo of massive spontaneous sinkhole in Guatemala City after tropical storm - http://bit.ly/9jWP3p"