It happened again the next few times I did some sort of exercise that involved a lot of exertion. Research on the internet led me to "exercise-induced headaches" which sounded mostly innocuous. Like, mostly it's just this thing, this thing that happens and it's not a big deal. No one knows why it happens, but it generally just goes away after a while. But I figured I'd better ask my doctor if he thought it was worth checking anyway, because it could be something else, something ominously referred to as "structural." I called the doctor, and didn't hear back, so figured...must not be a big deal.
But yesterday he calls and says "Yes, do come in." After an appointment, it sounded freaking serious. He scheduled me right away for an MRI, and very soberly told me that there's an 80% chance it's just a type 1 exertional headache, and nothing to worry about. But 20% is not good odds.
For the past 24 hours, I've been looking mortality like a 7 point buck looking at a gun barrel. Because that 20% is really serious. Aneurysm, burst brain blood vessels, cancer - lots of scary stuff. Nothing I want to have, nothing I can afford to have, even with insurance - and nothing that doesn't have a fairly high incidence of death-related deadness. I know that life inevitably ends, and memento mori, and all that. But that doesn't make me ready to go, not even a little bit. I have way too much left to do - and in addition, way to much to NOT do, even though I ought to be doing it - to shuffle off just yet.
The MRI today was a scary thing. I started to get a little freaked out, and started to feel like I wasn't sure I could really do this whole something-wrong-with-my-nugget thing. This is a kind of fear I've not often had to deal with - partly because in the past life-threatening situations have been so sudden I didn't have a chance to give it much thought until after it was over, and partly because I just haven't had as much to live for. I gave myself a stern talking to. I recited as much of the Litany of Fear that I could remember. I asked myself what a viking would do. I got through it.
Happily, I have a friend who is a neurologist. He offered to take a look at my MRI right after I did it. So this is what happened. I took my clothes off, and a nice man gave me headphones and TOOK A PICTURE OF MY BRAIN and then I got a copy of it on a shiny disk that I could show to other doctors within the hour. This is the 21st Century. (Missing from picture - price-tag for above, but that's a worry for another day.) With the words "The most talented radiologist I know says this looks normal," provided me with as profound a relief as ever I've felt.
I actually had to sit down for a few seconds in the lobby of the Ronald Reagan Medical Center, and brush a few manly viking tears away. No need to worry about dying. Or about what kind of hat I would have to wear with a shaved head. Or about which of my friends would show up in the hospital and which would bail. Or if Blink would notice I was gone or not. None of that stuff.
Not today, death. Come for me today, and I will kick you in your bony sack, and send you packing. I've got stuff to do.
Still not 100% in the clear - but the signs are good.