Times are changing
1986: 16 year-old me in the doctor’s office
I had just recovered from mono when my mom and I mentioned to our doctor that I was getting a lot of migraines. He prescribed Midrin and gave me a long lecture about relaxation, trying not to stress out so much, and getting enough rest. He believed in “the migraine personality” and suggested I get counseling.
15 minutes into my very first therapy session, that therapist broke any trust he might have earned (it wasn’t much) by telling my mom he thought I had been raped. We never discussed the possibility of any kind of trauma in my history so I have no idea where he got that notion. Oh yeah…I avoid eye contact. Well DUH! That’s because I have mild Asperger’s, not because of any rape that didn’t happen. This therapist was also guilty of believing another Migraine Lie — that women with migraines have an abuse history. He took one look at the word “migraine” and jumped to a seriously misguided assumption that caused my parents a tremendous amount of stress and worry for no good reason.
I quit therapy after 2 sessions.
The Midrin never did me any good either.
2013: 16 year-old son in the doctor’s office
3 long days of unrelenting migraines have caused my son to miss 2 days of school and wiped out half his monthly supply of Zomig in less than a week. We go to the Walk-In Clinic because he’s asked me to help him get a shot of Toradol to stop the attacks. Thanks to my nearly 40 years of migraine experience, he at least has access to triptans and rescue treatments.
The doctor never suggested that my son “learn to relax” or “seek therapy”. There were no lectures about “taking it easy” or “not being so stressed out”. This could have easily happened as my son also lives with OCD, ADHD, and Asperger’s.
His pain was validated. And the doctor had no problem using Toradol to break the cycle.
To my pleasant surprise, he took it a step further by checking my son’s chart and noticing that he had a bad cycle exactly a year ago and linked it to ragweed allergies. The Claritin he’d been taking apparently wasn’t enough to keep the histamine levels down and it was triggering migraine attacks. (Allergies were something else my doctor never bothered to check when I was a child.) This doctor jumped right on an appropriate protocol by prescribing Flonase for the allergies and a Prednisone taper to break both the allergy and migraine attacks. He also included a nice lesson to my son about the correct use of triptans as he admitted waiting too long to take them.
My son was back to school and work the very next day. He hasn’t missed a beat since — aggressively tackling his missed work, enjoying a movie night with the guys and a dinner & movie date with a cute girl.
Now that’s what I call treatment!
Thanks to the changing treatment protocols for migraine, my son just might get to live a rich, full life free from the disabling grip of migraines.