How Can I be an Empowered Migraineur?

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

No child hears this question and thinks to themselves “I want to be a Migraineur.” Yet, here we are — reluctant patients of a disease we know precious little about and over which we have even less control.

Empowerment isn’t about being a hard-to-get-along-with, bossy, know-it-all when it comes to our health care. With any luck it’s not about becoming a warrior. It IS about being an active part of our own health care team. It’s about actively pursuing a better life for ourselves, through education, conversation, and plain old hard work.

It’s certainly not about being ‘dishrag patients’ who ask no questions and blindly follow directions because somebody told us to do something. It’s not laying about waiting for someone else to fix us.

The empowered patient recognizes and works toward fixing themselves — we’re looking for better ways to manage our disease so we can live the best life we possibly can, with as few limitations as is necessary.

If you want to be an empowered patient, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Learn. Research, read, have conversations with doctors and nurses and other patients. Learn the smart way, by first making sure that the sources you’ve found are reliable, good places to become educated. If there is a question, ask a doctor or a nurse if the site is a place they would go or send patients to. Ask them and other patients about their favorite bound and internet resources. The best places will cite their medical sources so you can take the information you find directly to your doctor and be taken seriously. Stay current with new research and developments as they are announced.
  2. Find and attach yourself to the best doctor you can. A headache specialist is specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of headache disorders like Migraine, stays current on the newest treatments and research, and is the very best place you can go. A neurologist will sometimes be helpful too, but lacks special training and will usually find it more difficult to stay current on the latest research and treatments .
  3. Learn how to conduct yourself properly during an office visit. You can read several tips for making the most of a doctor’s office visit by reading 6 Tips for Optimal Results at Your Doctor’s Appointment
  4. Find a support group or groups, either online or in person, or a combination of the two. Each group is a little different from the next, but making yourself at home in several different settings is a great way to get several points of view and the best experience.
  5. Communicate effectively. Ask questions. Participate in conversations. Listen carefully. Always look for multiple angles on the same issue. Not every patient is the same, so we all have different experiences with the same treatments etc.
  6. Choose carefully. Politely stand your ground if necessary. Get your questions answered. Don’t say “yes” to an idea or treatment if you don’t feel it. You the patient have the most at stake, and you are the one that ultimately decides and either benefits or doesn’t from the advice you choose to take. At the end of the day your doctor goes home, but you live with your condition.
  7. Treat your chronic health condition like a business. Keep copies of your health records, and make sure they’re maintained in a neat, orderly fashion. Plan ahead and practice those plans. Update your Migraine journal and your lists as needed. For some patients who only suffer occasional Migraine attacks, this is easy. For others it can be a real chore. Don’t obsess about this. Delegate if necessary, but be diligent. Don’t worry – at first this may seem difficult, but quickly becomes one of the easiest part of managing your Migraine.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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