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Migraineurs who won’t seek help

One of my best friends was at the house this afternoon, talking about a buddy of hers who has frequent, severe headaches (I believe they are related to migraine but don’t know him well so can’t say for sure).  She was lamenting the fact that he won’t be proactive in his treatment.  He has a doctor he doesn’t like, but he refuses to seek out a new one (even with great recommendations from fellow headache sufferers).  He doesn’t take great care of himself, often imbibing a lot of caffeine throughout the day without drinking even half of the water he should be ingesting.

As someone who has found significant relief through lifestyle changes and through the care of very smart, thoughtful doctors, I get a little impatient when I hear about people like the fellow described above.

But then I think about it a little more, and I put on my amateur therapist hat (note:  I am not a therapist so say this half in jest!) to try to figure out what’s going on with the folks who don’t take steps to try to feel better.

One of my theories has to do with hope.  Sure, it doesn’t sound like the guy in my example is very hopeful at first read, but hear me out. We’ll call him “X.”  If X continues to do relatively little to improve his condition, that means a potentially helpful treatment is still waiting in the wings.  He can go on doing what he does every day while knowing that there could very well be a way for him to get to feeling better (and fast!).  He can hope that dramatically increasing his hydration each day and/or going to visit a doctor with an expertise in migraine and headache disease might make him healthier.

But what if these changes do nothing for him? What if he drinks twelve glasses of water a day, cuts down on caffeine, sees a new headache specialist, and still feels just as crappy all the time?

Until X tries out a new method, he can hold out hope that there is a treatment at his fingertips, there for the taking when he wants it. But if he reaches for that treatment and is unsuccessful, he may very well spin into that despair many of us have suffered through, the despair that perhaps there is nothing that can be done to help our poor heads.

Of course this is just a theory.  I have blogged before about friends who won’t be proactive with treatment, and I’ve tried to talk to them to figure out why they won’t seek help.  Sometimes they feel as if their condition isn’t as serious as it needs to be to address the problem with the doctor; sometimes they just feel despondent and hopeless.  And lord knows having a chronic illness can ware your energy levels down, making it nearly impossible to pick up the phone and make an appointment with yet another doctor.

What do you think when you encounter someone (even yourself) who isn’t actively trying to lessen the impact of migraine on his/her life?  Why do you think people with this disease sometimes choose to suffer through migraine episodes without seeing if there’s a treatment method out there?

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.

Comments

  • minddoctor
    4 years ago

    Hey Migraine Girl. I logged onto this website today for some emotional support for this hopelessness I’m feeling. Although I have been actively seeking solutions to chronic migraine now for the three years that I’ve been suffering from this fate, I feel ready to thrown in the towel – not off myself or anything, but just run as fast as I can anytime anyone mentions the word doctor. I just read your article on revisiting some of the methods that have worked for you in the past and I was impressed by your efforts – it seems like you’ve tried nearly everything under the sun, and I applaud your efforts. I have had so many treatments fail and even cause life threatening side effects.

    I’m scheduled for my 10th trial of Botox this Thursday at Stanford, and 8 hour round trip commute, and no one available to drive with me. I’ve had migraines 50% of the time for the past four months or so, an increase I can not explain, and it’s caused me to doubt the efficacy of this treatment. To be honest, the drug company itself says it only lowers migraines by one per month anyway, and in the two years I’ve been using this method it has not allowed me to return to any level of functioning, and I remain unable to work.

    This Thursday is also an event that I’ve been looking forward to attending for a year – so now I’m faced with this choice: I missed Thanksgiving and every holiday party I’ve been invited to, and I can miss this event on Thursday and drive 8hours in traffic to get stuck in the head with 31 needles, something which usually triggers a migraine, or I can cancel and wait the SIX WEEKS for the next available appt. at Stanford, well beyond the recommended month window for this treatment to be effective at all. I can’t even reach my doctor there to see if this would be wise, or if they could squeeze me in for the 5 minutes it takes to give me the injections for the $3,000 they make for their time.

    My gut reaction, right now, is to cancel this appt. while muttering profanities in my head. I hear myself saying “why bother” alot recently. I’ve looked up medications that I have yet to try and see all of the side effects, knowing that I have tried over 15 medications that gave no relief but all of the unpleasantries.

    Here’s the kicker – I’m a Clinical Psychologist. I know whether it’s depression or anxiety or schizophrenia or chronic pain, there are always other things to try. I guess lately I’m feeling like I need a break from being a lab rat.

  • larubia66
    5 years ago

    If it’s a man, it’s gonna be harder for him to go seek treatment as it is – men can’t be “sick” in our culture, and it’s awful that so many believe it. “I’M FINE” is not a cure for ANYTHING.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    That’s an interesting point, larubia66. I hadn’t really thought about how gender stereotypes might affect someone’s decision to get help (or not to get help).

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    Change takes energy. Sometimes it is easier to just stay in our discomfort. Stay with the devil you know….. Even just getting up enough gumption to make a decision and take care of self to be as healthy as possible no matter seems to be beyond some.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    This is so true. I know that is something I deal with sometimes. Thank you for the comment!

  • lisamariemary
    5 years ago

    Being completely broke and not having insurance is a big reason people might not be actively seeking more help.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Amen to that! Though I do know there are LOTS of free resources (for instance, this website) out there for migraine patients, and the fellow in this story won’t even consider trying out any lifestyle changes or dietary changes that wouldn’t cost any extra money. Hmm.

    I lived without health insurance from 2006 until this past January, and it can be hard to balance the checkbook, especially if you don’t make a lot of money (which is my situation). So many hurdles. I wish we could make it easier for people to have access to healthcare.

    Thank you for reading and for the feedback, lisamariemary.

    -Janet G.

  • Brian in TN
    5 years ago

    I understand her friend because I’ve been there, a dr who knows less than you about migraines but assures you how easy the cure is, no idea where to go from here. As long as a friend has one path that might help there is some hope, but if that path fails, then? Before I found this site I spent 1/2 my time praying someone would run a red light and put me out of my misery. Now I can see several paths and have learned places I can go to search for more. 1 hope is a lifeline far too precious to endanger, a map of several realistic possibilities provides a way to plan a future with optimism and fallback positions that can stop a slide into helplessness. Sometimes the fear of failure is just as debilitating as our disease, if she can lead him into this or a similar community she could make a huge difference in his life.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Such words of wisdom here, Brian in TN: “Sometimes the fear of failure is just as debilitating as our disease, if she can lead him into this or a similar community she could make a huge difference in his life.”

    I appreciate your feedback and am so encouraged by the news that this site has helped you see that there are options out there. Keep your head up and let us know how you’re doing.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • zippy36
    5 years ago

    I have tried new medications and every one that I have tried has given me horrible side effects. I have a very hard time tolerating ANY medicine: not just for migraine but for anything. Her friend may already know this about himself. I myself have adapted my life to reduce my episodes. For instance: regular sleep schedule, cutting my hair so I don’t have to wear a rubber band in it, etc. He may have a hard time with change. Changing your life is hard.

  • larubia66
    5 years ago

    What has helped me more than ANYTHING is having a series of Magnesium IVs – one every week for 4 weeks, and then once a month. I get them through a Naturopath – NO SIDE EFFECTS. Has reduced my migraines by 90+% – for REAL. I still have generic Imitrex for when I really need it, but the Magnesium IVs WORK. I lost my last job due to migraines – and I’m UBER-sensitive to meds – please try the Magnesium IVs – you will feel SO much better!

  • Nancy Stein
    5 years ago

    I think sometimes it’s easy to pretend that you’re not really miserable, this isn’t having such a MASSIVE impact on your life, you are still functioning fine and you can handle it….and you have to let that all go when you admit you need more/better/bigger medical help. It’s almost like hitting rock bottom when you admit that your disease is out of control and you need to confront it. Also, I personally HATE having to rehash everything over and over and over…going to a new doctor means recounting all symptoms, frequency, when they started…and what you have done thus far. I know for me, that includes over 100 medications and every alternative form of therapy known to man. My neuro has told me that my chart is the largest in the office…go me!

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