My name is Jessica Thomas. I was born in Dallas, Texas in 1982 and grew up in a typical conservative Christian middle-class home. I graduated from college in 2006 with two bachelor's degrees (Physical Education and Elementary Education). That summer I married my best friend and we planned to live "happily ever after." We moved to Colorado as our first step into that life. I started teaching at a middle school and coached volleyball. My husband went to work for an airline. Since I was a teenager, I'd suffered with migraine headaches. Like many people, I used medications and lived my life around them. They were not terribly frequent and they were manageable. Over the next two years the migraines became much more frequent, one sided (right) and I began having "cluster headaches." Cluster headaches often hit during the night. They would wake me from sleep and the pain was severe. They are called cluster headaches because they hit, ease up, and then hit again, 3-4 times/day and sometimes more. I feel them build and know the most severe pain is coming and I often lie on the floor in a fetal position, rocking until the pain subsides and then wait for it to hit again. I struggled to keep up with my work and family life, but it was becoming difficult. I moved to a grade school teaching position closer to home and my husband continued working full time. The frequent migraines and cluster headaches were making it very difficult to teach first graders. It broke my heart, but I resigned at the end of first semester and took a job at a vocational school in recruitment. I was hopeful that a position with regular hours and no homework to grade in the evenings would help. But it was at this time that I began having occipital pain through the back of my head and trigeminal pain into the side of my head and above and below my right eye. The pain is unlike any pain I have ever experienced. My eye swells almost shut and the right side of my face turns bright red. Moving is painful. Light is painful. Talking is painful. It's a sharp, burning pain that is constant. The pain makes me nauseous and there are many days I can keep no food down. I can't think. I can't have a conversation. The pain makes me stumble in conversations and I feel stupid. I used to teach school and loved to learn, but I can't now. I've seen neurologists, pain specialists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and physical therapists. I've seen a counselor, a neurosurgeon and a psychiatrist. No one can stop the pain. No one can explain the pain. I've used narcotics, herbal medicines, epilepsy medicines, and have spent more evenings in the ER and Urgent Care than I can count. No one can explain the pain. It could be from a car accident in college, it could just be "overactive" nerves. The pain is constant at varying levels. It's debilitating and it controls my life. I'm no longer able to work and spend most days in a dark house with the curtains drawn. That life of "happily ever after" seems very far away. I can't take care of myself and could certainly not care for a baby that we thought we would have by now. But I do have hope. There is a stimulator that can be implanted with leads going into my head. They block the pain. I know that it will work, because I had a trial of the implant three years ago. For the one week it was implanted, I had little to no pain. I could laugh and it didn't hurt. I could be outside in the sunshine and I could think and have conversations with my family. I felt like I used to feel. But insurance companies won't pay for the implant or the surgery. It has trials to support its use for back pain but not for head pain. For three years we have contacted the insurance commissioner, insurance companies, written letters, begged for approval. But it continues to be denied. That's why I'm here now. We are trying to gather the funds to pay for the surgery ourselves. The cost will be $25,000. I so would like to teach again. To laugh and enjoy life. To be a contributing member of society. I would so like a chance again at "happily ever after!"