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To Those Who Try to Give Me Advice for Treating My Migraines

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First of all, allow me to say thank you. I sincerely appreciate the fact that you are kind and caring enough to want to help me feel better, and that means the world to me. The very fact that you are giving me any advice at all tells me you believe more than some of the neurologists I have seen before. You not only believe my pain is real, you also believe that I should strive for the life that others around me take for granted — a single day pain-free. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that this life of constant pain is something I need to “just get used to,” so hearing your advice as to how I might be able to end this cycle is uplifting.

Now that we are on the same page, allow me to politely tell you to stop.

Yes, I said it. I realize you are just trying to help, and while there is a chance that whatever fad diet/new supplement/exercise regiment you have tried may bring me some fraction of relief, there is an equal chance that it will make my situation far worse. Every change in my diet, every new supplement, every different medication poses a risk. Even the medications that have given me relief did so at a cost. I had a week-long stay on the headache clinic’s ward of St. Joesph’s Hospital in Chicago to receive an infusion of DHE and largely credit my current ability to function as a relatively normal college student to this treatment, but even this came at a cost. The IV infusion caused nausea so bad I spent more than one infusion throwing up, with my nurses insistent that I couldn’t get anything more than what was already pushed through my IV (aside from a can of ginger ale, of course).

I appreciate your input, but chances are I have heard and considered many of the options you are mentioning and my neurologist and I have together decided whether or not it is something I ought to try. I’m up-to-date on the new medications that are in clinical trials and am constantly speaking with my doctor about when they will hit the market and if it will be something I try or not. Breaking news about clinical trials is great, but when entering a clinical trial I would have to wean off all my other medication, a risk my doctor and I are not willing to take.

I‘m not saying that you shouldn’t ever tell me if you hear news that has been helping other migraineurs. But if I have already heard about it and deemed it not worth the risk, accept my polite deferral to a new topic and leave it at that. We can be respectful to each other in our sharing of information, I promise! But if you start trying to push ideas on me, don’t be surprised when I push back or get defensive. This is my everyday, and it’s important that I get to live it the way I choose.

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Originally published: November 9, 2016
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