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1. the sickness

October 1, 2010

It started about ten years ago. I was at the recording studio with my band, Metaphor, and over the course of several hours, I drank four Miller Lites. On the way home, I was not drunk, but I felt so sick I almost did not make it home. The next day was absolute hell–the worst hangover I’ve ever had.

Ever since that night, even a single alcoholic beverage has left me with a corker of a hangover the next day.  Soon, it expanded beyond alcohol. Within a couple of years, the sensitivity spread to almost all pharmeceuticals, including Tylanol, asprin, Prilosec, Benedryl, NyQuil, Valium, Xanax…you name it. I can start out taking something for a couple of days, and then bam! the hangovers kick in. This sensitivity has even spread to herbs, such as the freeze-dried Chinese herbs my acupuncturist prescribes.

The sensitivity kept creeping, though. About five years after I learned to avoid pretty much all medications, I started waking up with headaches again–horrible, day-long events that included night-sweats, a feeling like my head was filling with pressure (“pumpkin head,” I call it), flaky skin (on my forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, and beard) and a full-body feeling of having been poisoned (or as if I had the flu).

I wasn’t taking any medications, so I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. It came in cycles–all of the symptoms arose at once, and went away at the same time, too. Usually a bad episode was about three days long, with about three days of lesser agony separating the bad spells.

I went to every specialist under the sun, to no avail. Not even my acupuncturist could help. After doing every test under the sun, my GP finally just through up his hands and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I believe that you’re suffering, I just don’t know why.”

Neither did I, for a long time. I seriously considered suicide, because I did not see how I could continue to live this way.

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