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What Is Essence Anyway?

I am getting OLD (a recurring theme recently). There is little in my life now that is “essential.”

I do wish the yearlong headache would go away—for good! But, even that is becoming a bit of a “friend.” I am learning to know it as a signal that my body has gone taut with too much thinking and too little moving. I don’t like it, and there seems little to do but endure.

I can get up and stretch and walk, but it comes home again as soon as I get still.

I spent many hours with many different doctors last year pursuing a “cause,” or at least a diagnosis. They are rarely the same, you know!

I probably did more time with doctors last year than in the rest of my life put together—urgent care, primary, endocrinology, orthopedics, neurology, allergy, otolaryngology; and back to the primary again. And, then there were tests—X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, nerve conduction studies, and endoscopies. And, finally I suffered sinus dilation and turbinate reduction, to close the year.

It does seem that medical science is not “essential”—at least in this situation. They all were doing their jobs, well and with varying levels of caring and kindness, but their tests and the data (I can't call them answers) generated have been of minimal use to me.

Oh, and did I mention the Russian kinesiologist? He may be the most helpful so far. He’s committed to teaching self-care techniques too, but my pain seems to start in a place along my right shoulder-blade that is really hard for me to reach. From there it reaches like a vise or an axe through the right side of my head. I always feel better when I leave Boris, and sometimes the easement of pain lasts 3 whole days. And I am almost never 100% pain-free. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I want it, need it--essentially!--to GO AWAY.

There were physical therapy, chiropractic, two rounds of prednisone, and finally supplement interventions—one set from the chiropractor (which one might expect) and the other from the neurologist (which boosted my opinion of him quite a bit). It’s actually the supplements that seem to have the best effect, and it’s a lot of pills to choke down EVERY day.

And, nothing is “essential”--because nothing erases the headache. Did I mention, I’ve never experienced anything like this before?!

I am surprised by my tirade—and I need the headache to disappear, to never return. And, even that seems no longer “essential.”

My supervisors and I, and analyst and I, have discussed the possibility that it is related to the case-study writing task and that it will go away when the paper goes away.

That would make it “psychosomatic,” right? Does that make me crazy? Well, that’s a question for another reflection, I think—but, no, not “crazy”. Funny, how so many of my patients, through the years, have resisted when they interpret that word as “it’s all in your head”! I get that better now. Oh--in my case, it IS all in my head!

What is “essence” anyway? Is there some way that this ache in my head is “essential”, is some “essence” of the work of describing and interpreting a case of psychological change?

My analyst has suggested several times that I “talk with the pain.” I haven’t gotten very far with that.

Perhaps, I can ask it about its “essence,” its “essential” nature. Just forming this thought is stirring responses about the pain and intensity of psychological work for psychological change. Hmmmm....?

It is an inchoate rant about “suffering”—I can see why I resist reflecting there.

According to the Apple dictionary App, “essence” is “the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, esp. something abstract, that determines its character: conflict is the essence of drama; • [in] Philosophy a property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is; • an extract or concentrate obtained from a particular plant or other matter and used for flavoring or scent.”

So, the pain in my head is, at the moment, somehow existentially essential to the intellectual and spiritual journey I am on; it is a property [proper – ty? (from Latin: pro + prius, "one's own", and "tatem", suffix making a noun of an adjective "thing")] without which the project [or me, myself] would not be what it is [I am]; it is determining of my and the task’s character; and it may have a purpose to extract or concentrate a particular flavor or scent from or to the project [and/or me].

In my old world this process I just did is called “eisegesis”—reading into a text (in this case, "event") a meaning deriving from one’s own biases, presuppositions and history. This is the opposite of “good science,” whether it be physical, or theological, or psychological. And, I’m going to let it stand—as an “hypothesis”.

Because, the medical scientists and engineers [the MDs] haven’t many good answers, and very few treatments, for me.

Not much is essential for me any longer, and it IS "essential" that I learn to live with, and in spite, of the pain, cuz it seems to be here to stay!

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