“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language 

And next year’s words await another voice.” ~T.S. Eliot

Another year is about to start, and as we reflect on the year we’re about to leave behind, I wanted to look back on 2019 with another Roller Coaster year in review.

So what did my 2019 look like?

January kicked off my year-long quest to get a diagnosis for my near-daily headaches, starting with a visit to an ENT. He read the MRI I had in December, told me it was clean and suggested I was suffering from eye strain. Two weeks later I saw a rheumatologist, who ran a bunch of blood tests that all came back normal and suggested I was suffering from migraines or tension headaches.

I participated in a meditation challenge throughout February, blogging about my daily meditations on Sharon Salzberg’s website. The end of the month saw my son turn 15. And I saw an ophthalmologist, who told me I had severe dry eye and put me on prescription eye drops.

My boyfriend and I celebrated our four year anniversary in March. And my primary care physician put me on meds that treat both migraines and fibromyalgia, his top two guesses for what had become daily and debilitating headaches.

In April, my boyfriend and I took the kids on a Spring Break trip to New York City for an unforgettable six day family vacation. My tween daughter discovered her love for softball, making me a softball mom in addition to a track mom. My four week check up with my primary care doc left me with a migraine diagnosis.

In May I celebrated my 43rd birthday with some purple highlights in my hair, a Hootie and the Blowfish concert and a plan for a birthday helicopter ride that was postponed twice. At my next four week checkup with my primary care doc, I told him the meds were no longer consistently working and they left me foggy in morning as I drag myself out of bed. He switched my meds and my diagnosis to fibromyalgia.

My kids finished out their 6th and 9th grade school years in June. The weather finally cooperated so I could go on a helicopter ride to add to my list of birthday sky adventures. And I gave reiki a try as yet another attempt to figure out my headaches. The woman performing this alternative treatment told me her fingers were burning when she touched my occipital ridge, causing me to do more research on neck pain related to headaches.

In July, my too-old-for-summer-camp son started high school cross country practices. My primary care doc switched up my meds again after I told him they weren’t working. Then I found out I needed bifocals, a development I was certain would eliminate my headaches. The new meds weren’t working so my doctor and I decided to stop all meds and see if the new glasses would help.

August brought me to Belize, an epic trip that included the jungle, a side trip to Guatemala, wildlife, the beach, good food, the Blue Hole and snorkeling with sharks. Somehow my baby girl turned 12. And I saw my endocrinologist, who told me my thyroid tests were off and adjusted my meds.

In September my kids started 7th and 10th grade, kicking it off with fall softball for her and cross country for him. I emailed my doctor about the possibility of cervicogenic headaches and asked him to order neck x-rays, which came back abnormal with words like “degenerative disc changes.” He referred me to a neurologist.

In October, I wrote about my birthday sky adventures for AARP’s The Girlfriend, an essay I’d been pitching for at least two years. I finally got in to see a neurologist, and she prescribed physical therapy for neck pain and headaches. During my first physical therapy session, I was told to focus on proper posture at my desk, to get up from my desk and stretch every 30 to 60 minutes and to work on stress management.

November was a busy month with my annual Veterans Day military discounts article for work, my daily writing for NaNoWriMo, an awesome Dead and Company show, red highlights in my hair and Thanksgiving. I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo by reaching the word count, but I wrote every single day in November and made significant progress in my memoir with nearly 30,000 words written. I also started doing weekly dry needling in my upper traps, neck and the base of my skull at physical therapy, which was a new kind of torture in the name of pain relief.

And here we are in December. I didn’t have my kids for Christmas this year because they spent it with their father, so we celebrated an early Fakesmas on December 14. My boyfriend, my son and I ran a fun Christmas five mile race, my first race in years. And after almost two months of dry needling, I decided to stop physical therapy because it wasn’t helping my headaches. My neurologist and I decided to try a new medication.

So after a year of chasing a diagnosis, I’m still trying to figure out what is going on with these headaches. But the vision board I made at the same workshop I attended last year is filled with healthy images, and I’m confident 2020 will bring the answers I need.

Happy New Year!

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