e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


back on migraine meds

In 2009-2010, I was on generic depacote to treat severe migraines. The meds knocked out the migraines, for the most part, but also resulted in some substantial weight gain and my neurologist slowly weaned me off. I spent a few years with sporadic migraines. My time in Sharjah and even moreso Lebanon was largely migraine-free. I had a prescription painkiller that I took when one came on that was particularly severe but until a few months ago, it was nothing like the summer of 2009, a most miserable period of time, when I clearly recall wishing to bang my head against the sidewalk to take my mind off the incessant throbbing and pulsing in my temples and forehead.

A few months ago, the migraines grew more frequent and changed a bit, coming on more often in the middle of the night, strong enough to wake me up, strong enough that Nicole made an appointment at the neurologist and got the necessary referral from our family doc. I don't experience many other symptoms, like the light and noise sensitivity and nausea that many migraine-sufferers feel. I get occasional dizziness which seems largely disconnected from the headaches and continue to experience partial atrophy of my palate, which the doctors maintain has a neurological basis--likely the same anomaly causing the migraines--but not one they can pin down (no tumor, thank goodness).

Anyway, the neurologist decided the severity and frequency warrant a return to meds, this time generic topamax instead, which doesn't have the weight gain side effect. It's going to take about a month to ease up to full dosage but in the five days since I started I've had two migraines (about on par) though the more recent one was of much less severity. Probably too soon to be connected to the meds but I'll take it. I'm not crazy about the idea of being on drugs at my tender age, but the prospect of sleeping all night without a migraine, night after night, couldn't be more appealing.


typical me

Hey, running a writing program ain't all bad. You get to influence classroom practice, have loads of conversations about teaching, and use the noxious abbreviation "ad-min."

Today, a day with a budget meeting in the dean's office on my schedule, just happens to be the day I wear two different socks. I mean, who notices socks? Not a big deal. But I knew. The meeting went pretty well, nobody to my knowledge realized my error, but STILL. I'm such a wannbe perfectionist, it just never quite works out that way.



Three sublime songs to cure whatever you've got.



I'm teaching Honors Writing & Rhetoric II this term for the first time and having a great time, another reminder how thankful I am for this great life interacting with and challenging students. Students are looking at a timely debate of their choice throughout the term: the ACA's contraception mandate, the viability of Islamic feminism, internet neutrality, and the local LGBTQ activist community's stance toward straight allies are a few examples. I've tried to move the students away from the notion of writing about a "subject" and toward analyzing an ongoing "debate" happening right now in the public sphere.

Our emphasis is on rhetoric. We're reading Sam Leith's book Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama which is an accessible and sometimes funny stroll through classical rhetoric, tropes and terms, and thoughts on how rhetorics of various stripe circulate in the contemporary world. The sequence of assignments ask students to provide an overview of the kairotic moment (a kind of "state of the debate" piece), critique various instances of rhetoric culled from the debate they're analyzing (using various lenses--Aristotelian, one based on Lazere's "Rules for Polemicists," etc.), intervene in the debate by creating a piece of rhetoric of their own (a tumblr, an op-ed...the possibilities are endless), and eventually compile all they've done into a comprehensive report at the term's end.

I'm not sure I've ever sequenced assignments or foregrounded rhetoric in quite this deep (obsessive?) a fashion. Working with honors students is interesting because in my fifteen+ years teaching, I've gravitated toward the other end of the spectrum--"basic writing" classes and the like. I appreciate the chance to expand and try something different. The honors program and the writing program share an awesome administrative assistant, are next door to one another, and have always had a close relationship. I'm leaning toward teaching the first-semester honors course next Fall, and perhaps getting on a rotation of these two courses. Let's see how thing unfold...