Today has been a very hectic day. I woke up and went to the Tabib. To make a long story short, the Tabib has decided that although my pain has responded to the traditional treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, it was all in my head (ya’ani politely I’m nuts) and I should see a psychiatrist. That’s the abbreviated version. The unabbreviated version took twenty minutes and cost five hundred rupees. You don’t want that one.

He told me that I have stress that I’m not telling him about and that I’m having tension headaches. Right. Tension headaches. In my teeth on the right side of my mouth. And my right eye. And in my right ear. But it still responds to both Neurontin and Topamax.

*polite nod and smile*

I would like to have told el-Tabib that I have had my share of stress in life and that I deal with it through prayer, through writing, through raiding the bag of jelly beans in the deep freezer (oops, did I type that out loud?) but not by getting tense on one side of my face. It just doesn’t seem very me she said with an almondy sweetness faintly akin to cyanide.

I developed the one-sided face-ache after a week-long fun-fest in Lahore, the great vacation that followed a vacation to the States before that, both of these set in six months of vacation where I haven’t been working this year.

If I have stress, it must be the kind you get from having too much fun and too little hard work, and the over-exertion of enjoying yourself has to be interrupted by nice, long naps in between. Lest you hurt yourself. Or maybe even get a face-ache apparently.

Maybe my ex-Tabib is used to dealing with people who suffer from what I call ‘creeping hypochondria,’ a mild disease that seems to migrate from one body part to another depending on what aches and how serious it could be and whose uncle had it once and had to have the leg cut off and Hai Allah mai margai! Someone get me an ambulance! Maybe I should’ve taken a whole slew of friends into the neurology ward to vouch for me: Abez is not a hypochondriac.

Abez is not a stresser either. Nothing is a life or death situation unless it’s really a life or death situation, and so far that’s never happened. I’m not a keeper of secret stress, and that doesn’t mean that life doesn’t offer me any stress, it just means that I won’t have any of it. And that doesn’t mean I’m in denial, that means I’m in refusal. Denial and refusal are two totally different things. Case in point:

Denial: Are you ok? You don’t look ok, you look all grouchy.

Go away, I’m fine. Just leave me alone, my head hurts.

Ok your head hurts, I’m sorry, but you don’t have to be so mean about it.

Well you don’t have to be so annoying, just go away.


Refusal: Are you alright?

I have a headache but I’m fine. How are you?

Pretty good, what’s for lunch?

So what’s the plan? Well, plan A. was to bonk ex-Tabib on the head with the rubber hammer that he bonked me with on the first visit to check my reflexes. Ah, irony.

Plan B. was to poke him in the face with a toothpick a lot and ask if it hurt. Which he also did on the first visit, which would not only be irony, but would also be stress-relief. For me and my secret stress, he he. Ahem, ok, pardon me.

Plan C: Refusal. (as compared to denial) I’m quitting Topamax cold turkey. The dose I missed was a few hours ago and aside from some twitching in the bridge of my nose (and the sudden hankering for a carrot?) I feel alright. Does my head hurt? Yes. But I refuse to be badly effected. I’m fine.

I think I’m doing this to push the reset button. I’m going to start over with a new headache (or hopefully no headache) and go from there. If it’s too much to deal with (through prayer and jelly beans) then I’ll get a new Tabib.

I can’t remember where I was going with the conclusion. Oh yes. I’m looking forward to having 100% of brain at my disposal again. I was running at about an 80-90% on good days with Topamax. On bad days it was a foggy 60%. Maybe I should forget about treating the nerve and focus on raising my tolerance for pain? Maybe I can finally convince my dad to pay for martial arts classes!!!!! Ok, I know it’s a stretch, but I’ve always wanted them, and don’t master martial artists break cement blocks and wooden boards and other martial artists into small pieces without even wincing? See, that’s pain management. 🙂


Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, and 100% Muslim. She is also chronically ill and terminally awesome. She is the ever-lovin Momma of: - Khalid, a special little boy with autism - Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair -Musfira, an especially devious baby Spoiler, Abez is also Zeba Khan on

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