Before I go, I have something to say

The Eternal Sunshine of the Fact-Free Mind

Searching for an end to my headaches has brought me in touch with many interesting people. I use that word, “interesting,” because to use a word like “weird” or “zealous” or “cockamamie” or “nuts” would be just not very helpful.

So I am not going to tell you very much about my latest encounter. After all, there have been so many. Sometimes they come in person, usually when I am paying someone enormous amounts of money. Sometimes they arrive by email, when something I have written about right here has provoked someone to suggest I try something that I might not have thought of on my own, like having all of my fillings replaced because they are full of mercury which has lodged in my liver, and everybody knows a toxic liver leads directly to daily migraines.

I know I should chill out, or warm up, or Just Be, so that I can accept everything everybody tells me for what it is: a Genuine Attempt to Help. No matter if their science is goofy, or their “facts” come straight from Google. (I am a librarian, after all, and the word “Google” does something to us, and if we don’t explain how we feel about it, we might find smoke coming out of our ears.)

I regret my latest failure to accept a Genuine Attempt of Help. This person really meant well, and my disagreement has made me feel, well, disagreeable. In fact, feeling less than grateful is probably a major cause of my headaches, so it serves me right.

Maybe if I had tried harder, I could have maintained a relationship with this person who knows EVERYTHING about health. At first, all I could think to do was argue. To bring out the big guns, like PubMed vs. Google. (Here I go! This will only take one paragraph, I swear.)

If you type something into Google, no matter how silly or ill-advised, chances are excellent that you will find not one, not ten, but 40 million hits, all backing you up. Type “cleanse,” for instance. You will find juice cleanses, gluten cleanses, facial cleanses, yoga cleanses, fermented tea cleanses, and, yes, you will probably also find a tangent strongly suggesting high colonics. (If you do not know what a high colonic is, go ahead and Google it. Don’t watch the YouTube video while eating.)

However – oh, dear, I’m up to two paragraphs now – if you instead go into, a free, fact-checked, carefully maintained, professional database of peer-reviewed, medical research published in actual medical journals like JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine and The Texas Journal of Rural Health, not to mention Current Pain and Headache Reports, and you type the word “cleanse” into the search box, you may not find anything – and that should tell you something. Even better, go to, which is run by a real M.D., and backs up all of its statements with references to real medical research.

I did that, and hoo boy, did I learn a lot about how dangerous and/or foolish cleanses and detox and mercury testing and immunization-avoiding can be.

But the true believers don’t want to hear this. So maybe it’s time I stop trying to reason with them. Something easy. Something kind. Something fun.

I could lie.

When somebody tells me to try a cleanse, I could say, “Oh, I have! I do! First week of every month! It’s great. It makes me feel so . . . light. And brand-spanking clean, inside and out.”

When someone says I should avoid gluten, and dairy, and red meat, and sweets, I could say, “Absolutely! Didn’t you know I’m a vegan? Been one since I was 6! I wouldn’t know a piece of bacon if it wrapped itself around my tofu! Grass-fed beef? Why not just have a glass of wheatgrass? So much more satisfying! Wheat bread? Are you kidding? I’ve got buckets of amaranth flour in my pantry! And sweets? I tried agave nectar in my lemonade, but it was so candied it set my teeth on edge! So now I just eat my lemons plain!”

When asked if I exercise, why not reply, “I walk to work every day, even on the weekends when I don’t work! And every morning I do 27 Sun Salutations in the backyard, whether the sun is up or not, and every day when I get home from work, I do 75 minutes of crunches, followed by a half-hour of guided imagery and panflute music. That’s why I’m so &$#% calm!”

As for my liver, please. “I haven’t ever had a shot for anything! I’m so grateful to my parents for allowing me to have chicken pox and German measles and whooping cough and, oh yes, influenza every year. I only wish I could have experienced polio!” Talk about living naturally.

When quizzed about what chemicals I use to clean house, I could protest, “Me? I only use filtered water and cider vinegar to clean everything from the toilets to the windows. Whatever’s leftover, I can drink!”

And eating organic? “That’s all I eat! We raise all our own food, no pesticides allowed. True, by now we’re down to a basket of gnarly potatoes and the 200 jars of tomatoes I put up last September, but hey! It’s healthy!”

Well, it’s a thought. Anything to avoid an argument. After all, a bad headache is just a sign of a conflicted mind. That’s why I like to keep mine clear, and cleansed, and completely fact-free. Just don’t get me started on climate change.

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