[image quote: “Empathy is the ultimate sex tip, and I think it’s a communication super power in general…[it’s] this really powerful tool to enable [all of our] relationships to be deeper and more satisfying, and more supportive." - Kate McCombs MPH, episode 35; Sex Educator + Chronic Migraine patient

[image quote: “Empathy is the ultimate sex tip, and I think it’s a communication super power in general…[it’s] this really powerful tool to enable [all of our] relationships to be deeper and more satisfying, and more supportive." - Kate McCombs MPH, episode 35; Sex Educator + Chronic Migraine patient

35a + 35b Sex Geek, Chronic Migraineur and American Treasure: Kate McCombs MPH (episode page)
Description: I talked to this week’s guest, Kate McCombs MPH, for so long we have two full episodes for your listening pleasure...
35a: In the first episode, Kate talks about her experience in the Australian healthcare system while she was getting her Masters in Public Health down under, her work as a freelance sex educator including her recent west coast teaching tour and founding Sex Geekdom and Tea & Empathy, the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections and disclosure, and the difficulty of making new friends as a grownup.

CW: needles, drug use
35b: In the second episode, we compare notes about living with Chronic Migraine and our attempts at managing the condition, migraine literacy among doctors we’ve seen, and regularly sticking needles in our heads because that’s somehow preferable to the migraines. We also talk about New York’s restrictive medical cannabis program, harm reduction and empathy, linguistic precision and Kate's Tea & Empathy workshops.

35a [intro]
Hey there and welcome to In Sickness + In Health, a podcast our relationships with our bodies, and issues at the intersections with chronic illness, disability, healthcare, and mortality. My name is Cara Gael; I’m not a doctor or medical professional, I’m just a person and a patient who really wants to talk about this stuff more.

Nothing said on this show should be considered medical advice. If you’re experiencing a medical issue, please seek qualified medical help. I know the system sucks, but I wish you a lot of luck. Every person is different, even within disease groups, so none of my guests should be regarded as official representatives or spokespersons for their conditions. Please respect their very personal choices, and unless they ask for it, please don’t make suggestions about treatments or lifestyle changes. Unsolicited medical advice is never not annoying.

Usually I try to cut my interviews down to about an hour, and if there’s more to our conversation, stick that in a bonus episode. But I talked to this week’s guest for so long, I actually had enough to produce TWO full episodes. You can listen to just one or both, and I really hope you enjoy listening to them, because we had a blast chatting.

In this episode, Kate McCombs MPH talks about her experience in the Australian healthcare system while getting her Masters in Public Health down under, her work as a freelance sex educator including her recent west coast teaching tour and founding Sex Geekdom, the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections and disclosure, Tea & Empathy, and the difficulty of making new friends as a grownup.

In the second episode, we compare notes about living with Chronic Migraine and our attempts at managing the condition, migraine literacy among doctors we’ve seen, and regularly sticking needles in our heads because that’s somehow preferable to the migraines. We also talk about New York’s restrictive medical cannabis program, harm reduction and empathy, linguistic precision and Kate's Tea & Empathy workshops.

Before we get in to the interview, I want to take a moment to say something about violence. I want to, but I don’t know what because these high profile incidents keep happening before I’ve had time to grieve and collect my thoughts from the last one. I want so badly to say something meaningful about waking up almost every day to these new and terrible events, and say something about all the violence that has happened and will continue to happen, including the stufft we don’t even hear about.

Like we talk about in these episodes, during times when I’m dealing with increased chronic migraines, my mental and emotional bandwidth narrows to an impossible extent. Because I’m already in woozy, cloudy crisis mode on a personal level, it’s hard to process the atrocious acts of violence that happen every day.

An unexpected effect of doing a regular show is that it has been punctuated by these major acts of horror since I started. My time doing this has been marked by the terrorist attacks on Planned Parenthood, Paris, Belgium, San Bernadino, and other mass shootings that have dominated the news. Orlando. The black men dying at the hands of police for no reason, the black women who are also dying at the hands of police but often get forgotten in the ever mounting pile of hashtags remembering those who didn’t have to die. The disabled folks and other people of color who suffer violence at the hands of those meant to protect us, that don’t get the same amount of attention either. The officers shot by a sniper in Dallas. The unquantifiable violence in Syria, the surrounding region, and all around the world. The militaristic police presence at peaceful protests that so often turn unnecessarily violent. It’s constant, and these things are only the tip of the iceberg.

I do want to talk more about violence, but my brain is not up to the task at this time, and for that i am very, very sorry. I want to offer more support and solidarity in these times, but I am so often trapped in my own personal migraine nebula. More than ever, I have been retweeting many resources for grief and self care, because it’s what little I can do. It’s not enough because it’s never enough, but it is in these times where we need self care most, to honor our grief, and tell those we still have how much we love them. I love you, and I am so glad we have this time together.

We’ll be talking a bit more about police violence, domestic violence, and traumatic brain injury in an upcoming episode. I have long been planning on devoting an entire episode to violence as a public health issue, and it’s something I’d really like to make happen. If you have thoughts on these issues, talk to me. Send me your thoughts on different issues related to health, disability and violence. Especially if you’re a person of color or member of another marginalized group, especially if you have experienced violence yourself, or it has touched your life in some way. If you're ready to share, shoot me an email at insicknesspod@gmail.com or use the contact page at insicknesspod.com, and if not, I get it and I am sending love your way and to everyone who feels shaken, and unsafe, and exhausted from all the hurt.

Because language is often the first thing to get quite difficult during these chronic migraine flares, I’ve been experimenting with migraine imagery using Snapchat and Instagram. I am a visual artist first, but had gotten away from visual arting, and now I’m back. I started a separate Instagram account to log some of what I've been playing around with while up late with migrainesomnia and dread. Check it out if you’re interested: @bimpsegetsweird.

I wanna take a moment to say thanks to my Patrons over on Patreon for supporting the show on an ongoing basis: Stanford, Laura, and Katie you rule. Special shout out to Yarrow, for being the latest Patron to join the party. Thank you Yarrow! Patreon enables me to accept small recurring donations on a per episode basis, to help with the production costs for the podcast. If you haven’t yet, check us out over on Patreon... There are different pledge levels that come with different rewards, and Patrons who support the podcast also get access to the Patron Only feed, on which I’ll be sharing some more behind the scenes stuff in the months to come.

Check out insicknesspod.com/donate for links to our patreon and paypal pages, including a video in which I describe exactly how Patreon works. Don’t worry if you can’t donate, the chronic life is expensive, I get it. You can also help out by taking a moment to subscribe, rate, and review us on iTunes, it helps other people find the show! I am also always looking for folks to help me transcribe my interviews, but I am hoping to raise enough money through Patreon to be able to pay for transcription at some point, so I can make full transcripts available in a more timely fashion.

If you’re listening to these episodes the week they come out and are (or can be) in the New York area, Kate will be hosting another Tea & Empathy workshop next Tuesday, July 19, at SHAG Brooklyn. This workshop will focus on communicating better in your relationships, and cohosted by Kate’s professional soul mate, Louise Boucher. You’ll hear us talk about their adventures, and Tea & Empathy in these episodes.

Check out the episode page for links to some of the stuff we talk about in this episode, and a link to that upcoming Tea & Empathy workshop in Brooklyn. You can find resources and more from us at insicknesspod.com and on social media @insicknesspod. Find Kate and all her workshops including Tea & Empathy online at katemccombs.com. Check out Sex Geekdom at sexgeekdom.com, find her on Twitter @katecom and on Instagram @kateanswers.

 And I hope you enjoy this episode...

[interview]

[outro]
Thanks for listening to this episode of In Sickness + In Health. Check out the episode page for links to some of the stuff we talk about in this episode, and a link to that upcoming Tea & Empathy workshop in Brooklyn. You can find resources and more from us at insicknesspod.com and on social media @insicknesspod. Find Kate and all her workshops including Tea & Empathy online at katemccombs.com. Check out Sex Geekdom at sexgeekdom.com, find her on Twitter @katecom and on Instagram @kateanswers.

And don’t forget to be excellent to yourselves and each other.
-----

35b [intro]
Hey there and welcome to In Sickness + In Health, a podcast our relationships with our bodies, and issues at the intersections with chronic illness, disability, healthcare, and mortality. My name is Cara Gael; I’m not a doctor or medical professional, I’m just a person and a patient who really wants to talk about this stuff more.

Nothing said on this show should be considered medical advice. If you’re experiencing a medical issue, please seek qualified medical help. I know the system sucks, but I wish you a lot of luck. Every person is different, even within disease groups, so none of my guests should be regarded as official representatives or spokespersons for their conditions. Please respect their very personal choices, and unless they ask for it, please don’t make suggestions about treatments or lifestyle changes. Unsolicited medical advice is never not annoying. A quick content warning for those who might need to avoid this one, we do talk about needles in this episode if that’s a problem for you.

Usually I try to cut my interviews down to about an hour, and if there’s more to our conversation, stick that in a bonus episode. But I talked to this week’s guest for so long, I actually had enough to produce TWO full episodes. You can listen to just one or both, and I really hope you enjoy listening to them, because we had a blast chatting.

In this episode, we compare notes about living with Chronic Migraine and our attempts at managing the condition, migraine literacy among doctors we’ve seen, and regularly sticking needles in our heads because that’s somehow preferable to the migraines. We also talk about New York’s restrictive medical cannabis program, harm reduction and empathy, linguistic precision and Kate's Tea & Empathy workshops.

In the first episode, Kate talks about her experience in the Australian healthcare system while getting her Masters in Public Health down under, her work as a freelance sex educator including her recent west coast teaching tour and founding Sex Geekdom, the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections and disclosure, Tea & Empathy, and the difficulty of making new friends as a grownup.

Like I always say in my intro, every person is different, and that definitely applies to treatment for chronic migraine, which we talk about in this episode. Everyone is gonna have different triggers and symptoms and respond differently to different treatments. We talk about some of our personal experience with that in the next episode. If you’re able to find and see a headache specialist, they generally know more about the options available and how to wield them more effectively to help turn the volume down. I’ve included a link to learn more about chronic migraine on the episode page, and there you can also search your zip code to find headache specialists in your area. There are, unfortunately, nowhere near enough of them, though that is thankfully beginning to change.

I should also probably make a disclaimer that I talk about cannabis use for migraine pain. Again, it’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not legal everywhere. In fact, federally it’s still very illegal, but different states have different laws. And like we talk about in this episode, unfortunately those laws are applied unevenly to people of color. To learn more about the laws pertainiing to canabis use, posesssion and distribution in your state, check out NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which I’ve linked to on the show page. They have great information on how these laws vary on a state by state basis, and advocacy resources as well.

Because language is often the first thing to get quite difficult during these chronic migraine flares, I’ve been experimenting with migraine imagery using Snapchat and Instagram. I am a visual artist first, but had gotten away from visual arting, and now I’m back. I started a separate Instagram account to log some of what I've been playing around with while up late with migrainesomnia. Check it out if you’re interested: @bimpsegetsweird.

I wanna take a moment to say thanks to my Patrons over on Patreon for supporting the show on an ongoing basis: Stanford, Laura, and Katie you rule. Special shout out to Yarrow, for being the latest Patron to join the party. Thank you Yarrow! Patreon enables me to accept small recurring donations on a per episode basis, to help with the production costs for the podcast. If you haven’t yet, check us out over on Patreon... There are different pledge levels that come with different rewards, and Patrons who support the podcast also get access to the Patron Only feed, on which I’ll be sharing some more behind the scenes stuff in the months to come.

Check out insicknesspod.com/donate for links to our patreon and paypal pages, including a video in which I describe exactly how Patreon works. Don’t worry if you can’t donate, the chronic life is expensive, I get it. You can also help out by taking a moment to subscribe, rate, and review us on iTunes, it helps other people find the show! I am also always looking for folks to help me transcribe my interviews, but I am hoping to raise enough money through Patreon to be able to pay for transcription at some point, so I can make full transcripts available in a more timely fashion.

If you’re listening to these episodes the week they come out and are (or can be) in the New York area, Kate will be hosting another Tea & Empathy workshop next Tuesday, July 19, at SHAG Brooklyn. This workshop will focus on communicating better in your relationships, and cohosted by Kate’s professional soul mate, Louise Boucher. You’ll hear us talk about their adventures, and Tea & Empathy in these episodes.

Check out the episode page for links to some of the stuff we talk about in this episode, and a link to that upcoming Tea & Empathy workshop in Brooklyn. You can find resources and more from us at insicknesspod.com and on social media @insicknesspod. Find Kate and all her workshops including Tea & Empathy online at katemccombs.com. Check out Sex Geekdom at sexgeekdom.com, find her on Twitter @katecom and on Instagram @kateanswers.

 And I hope you enjoy this episode...

[interview]

[outro]
Thanks for listening to this episode of In Sickness + In Health. Check out the episode page for links to some of the stuff we talk about in this episode, and a link to that upcoming Tea & Empathy workshop in Brooklyn. You can find resources and more from us at insicknesspod.com and on social media @insicknesspod. Find Kate and all her workshops including Tea & Empathy online at katemccombs.com. Check out Sex Geekdom at sexgeekdom.com, find her on Twitter @katecom and on Instagram @kateanswers.

And don’t forget to be excellent to yourselves and each other.