The Fish That Swim in My Head

A life with migraine headaches


| September / October 2003


I call Abbott Northwestern Hospital. I want a CT scan. I want to see my brain on paper. I want analysis, diagnosis, reassurance that it's all there, all in working order. I will remain motionless in a large steel cylinder for as long as it takes. The words I want to hear? Your brain is healthy. Everything is in working order. You go, girl.

I am transferred to the proper desk, and I explain myself. The woman doesn't get it. Do you have a referral? she asks. I say no. Were you in an accident? Have you experienced bleeding? No, no bleeding, I tell her. But I do have an intense migraine every six or seven weeks. It always lasts three days. She is silent for a moment. She isn't sure what to say and explains that the CT scan policy requires a patient referral from a licensed doctor.

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