A Shot in the Dark by Pam Kress Dunn

Last week I allowed a neurologist to stab me in the head, face, neck and shoulders 31 times. Okay, maybe “stab” is overly dramatic. What she actually did was give me 31 shots of poison. There, now. Doesn’t that sound better?
As a long-time host site for migraines, I think I can say that desperate times call for desperate measures. So when my doctor suggested I come in for a Botox treatment, I figured, what the hell. What’s the worst that can happen? I mean besides the inability to swallow or breathe, or the peeling red rash, or the drooping of an eyelid or two, or, you know, death? The nurse assured me this procedure has been fatal only twice (in the U.S. – not at the headache clinic). So my odds of survival are pretty good. 

As for the likelihood of this treatment lessening my migraines, time will tell. It takes two to three weeks for the toxin – excuse me, the FDA-approved medicine – to do what it needs to do, which is, if I’ve got this right, to paralyze certain nerves that create the familiar throbbing of a migraine. Right now I’m just trying not to scratch the itchy spots on my scalp. My husband suggested I think of them as bug bites, which we all know only get itchier if you give in and scratch them.

There were several amusing moments during this not-very-pleasant procedure. First of all, I noticed that the medicine and the 31 syringes were brought in by the nurse on – no kidding – a silver platter. It was small, but still, it was silver. Then there was the list of possible side effects. Along with disfiguration, respiratory arrest, and suicide (no, wait, that’s another drug I take every day), the list included “loss of wrinkles.” Oh no! Not that!

Ironically, of all the cosmetic procedures I have read about (and might consider if money were no object), Botox was the one thing I was dead set against. I’ve read too many horror stories about Hollywood stars no longer able to move the muscles in their foreheads, sending their acting careers into the dumpster. My face has other lines I’m more concerned about than the tiny one between my eyes. (Don’t tell me you can see it from there. My delusions keep me happy.) 

And yet, there I was, having needles sunk into my head, face, neck and shoulders. The right side of my head was the worst. The nurse had warned me I might hear “a crunching sound” as the needles went into my head. A crunching sound? But why? I forgot to ask. Besides, I’d had worse when I was hospitalized last year in the Head Pain unit at a hospital not far from the clinic. A plastic surgeon injected at least five very long needles into the back of my head. He called it a cervical block, as the needles were full of anesthetic. 

For some people, this takes away their headaches. All it did for me was make the back of my head feel like it was . . . missing. I was perversely glad it didn’t do a thing for my headaches, because if it had, I would be forced to endure the needles in my head every few months or so. The crunching sound they made sounded as loud as your little brother eating Frosted Flakes too close to your ear. I shudder to think of it now.

It’s not like I’m needle- shy. I have no problem having my blood drawn, and I would happily donate blood if I didn’t have so many pesky health problems that my doctors have advised against it. Why, I’ve even learned to give myself shots when my headaches are gearing up. If I shoot some Toradol or Norflex into my thigh when I feel the pain coming on, they can head off even the worst migraine. It’s all in the timing. My husband, bless his heart, has learned to give me shots in a much less painful (and much less visible) place, but when he’s gone, I have to do it myself. The last time that happened, I decided to give my bruised-up legs a break and attempt a shot in the arm. I did it, and felt so proud of myself. 

This is, of course, celebrating the successful battle instead of ending the war. Any of my “triggers,” as we migraineurs call the situations that bring on a headache, can start a new headache up again. For me, they include being in a moving car, looking out a sunny window, using the computer, reading a book, or watching a movie or TV, among others. Sometimes it seems like it’s just one long headache that occasionally goes to sleep, but always wakes up again, with a vengeance. 

One of the groups I’ve fanned on Facebook is the National Headache Society, which occasionally asks a question of its fans. The latest was this: “What occasions have you had to miss because of your headaches?” People listed weddings, trips, birthday celebrations, children’s dance recitals. I just pounded out “EVERYTHING” in my comment box and left it at that. 

I know, though, that we migraineurs should all look on the bright side. We don’t have cancer. We don’t have Parkinson’s. A new study even revealed that our brains aren’t shrinking because of the pain they are in. (And, yes, I know the brain itself can’t feel pain. Sometimes it just feels like it’s my frontal cortex that’s on fire.) And hey. We can learn impressive new skills, like giving ourselves shots. I’m still working on driving with my eyes closed. Once I master that, I’ll have it made. 

Pam Kress-Dunn
pam2617@yahoo.com

Events & Articles

Independence Bluegrass and Wine Tasting Featuring Finnders & Youngberg 5 and The Driftless Sisters

Posted on June 18, 2015

Thursday, July 2 @ 6:30–10 PM
Schmid Innovation Center Courtyard (Caradco Warehouse)

Two years ago, 365ink had a chance to bring an old friend of ours back to Dubuque for very unique bluegrass concert under blue skies, but in the friendly confines of the just-completed Caradco Warehouse at 955 Washington St. in downtown Dubuque. Tri-State native, Mike Finders’ band, Finnders & Youngberg, have earned their stripes in the bluegrass world and if such a rowdy musical subset had egos, they would certainly qualify as rock stars. Needless to say, the event was a huge success. Well, as fate would have it, the stars have aligned once again this year and we’re very happy to announce the return of Finnders & Youngberg to the now-titled Schmid Innovation Center Courtyard at the Caradco Warehouse in Dubuque’s Millwork District. This year’s event will once again feature a fabulous wine tasting by Dubuque Heritage Winery as well as yet to be determined goodies from both the Dubuque Food Co-Op and Inspire Café, which both call the Caradco building home. We’re also thrilled to have the Tri-States next Bluegrass rock stars, The Driftless Sisters, opening for Finnders & Youngberg that night.

Fireworks and Air Show Spectacular Presented by The Dubuque Jaycees and Radio Dubuque

Posted By Mike Ironside on June 18, 2015

Friday, July 3
A.Y. Mcdonald Park
Story By Mike Ironside
Photos by Bob Felderman

What could be more American than celebrating the birth of our nation, our freedom and independence? An American tradition, Independence Day celebrations take place each summer across the country in a variety of forms. Dubuque doesn’t fool around in celebrating the holiday, with the annual July 3 Fireworks and Air Show hosted by Radio Dubuque and the Dubuque Jaycees at A.Y. McDonald Park and along the riverfront near Lock and Dam 11 being one of the biggest gatherings to be witnessed the entire year.

Fever River Outfitters—Now in Dubuque!

Posted Shelby Dill on June 18, 2015

Fever River Outfitters, located in the humble tourist town of Galena, has specialized in mid-west recreation for over thirteen years. It has been quite the unexpected journey for owner, Deb Malone. While she recognized early a need for recreation within the area, her store has gone far beyond the initial vision.

Mindframe Theaters Free Summer Kids Movies

Posted on June 05, 2015

Monday–Friday: June 8 – August 28 @ 10 AM  @ Mindframe Theaters 
Whether you’re looking to get out of the heat or simply love great family movies, you’re not going to find a better deal than this! Mindframe Theaters invites you to join them for FREE MOVIES ALL SUMMER! No, we’re not even kidding. Every weekday morning at 10 AM, Mindframe Theaters is presenting a great family movie at no charge. Each title will play for the week so you can choose your day! Additionally, they will be hosting sensory friendly screenings every Saturday morning at 10 AM of the same film that played during the week (except as noted below). Some new releases will be shown this way at regular ticket price. These specific Saturday morning shows are for patrons with sensory sensitivities. Lights are up, volume is down, guests are welcome to enjoy the experience with movement or vocalizations. What a great way to make summer movie fun accessible to everyone!  (CLICK INTO THE STORY FOR MOVIES AND DATES!)

 

Here’s a schedule for this summer’s screenings. Mark your calendars and we’ll see you at the movies! All movies play at 10 AM. And remember the extra sensory friendly screening.

 

June 8–12: Paul Blart Mall Cop 1 

June 15–19: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 

June 20: (Sensory Friendly Showing) Inside Out (Regular Ticket Price) 

June 22–26: Smurfs 1 

June 29–July 3: Open Season 1 

July 6–10: Surf’s Up 

July 11: (Sensory Friendly Showing) Minions (Regular Ticket Price) 

July 13–17: Matilda July 20–24: Planet 51 

July 27–30: Hotel Transylvania 

August 1: (Sensory Friendly Showing) Pan (Regular Ticket Price) 

August 3–7: Spongebob Movie (the first one) 

August 10–14: Mousehunt 

August 17–21–Barnyard 

August 24–28–Hotel for Dogs 

Meet Me @ Jazz!

Posted on June 04, 2015

Dubuque… and All That Jazz Celebrates 20 Years
Meet me at Jazz. Whether planned or not, Dubuque Main Street’s annual series of free summertime festivals held under the Town Clock have become the prime place for friends to meet. And meet they do, by the thousands. Friends, neighbors, relatives, and acquaintances will all have that opportunity Friday, June 19 at the first Dubuque… and All That Jazz of the 2015 season with a performance by Chicago-based funk and R&B band, The Business. The Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School Jazz Band will open from 5 to 5:30 PM.