A Wish List for Everyone With Migraine

Migraine had me discouraged on the day my mom asked for my holiday wish list. Instead of breaking her heart by saying that the only thing I truly want can’t be wrapped up with a pretty bow, I gave her a list that included an electric throw blanket and a faux fur cape. But I made that other list, too. It’s a list of wishes not just for myself, but for everyone who has migraine.

I wish for...

Widely effective migraine preventives. I’m not asking for one single magic drug, but imagine if there were five great medications to choose from rather than 100+ mediocre ones.

Migraine abortives that are safe and effective for everyone. Again, there doesn’t need to be a one-size-fits-all drug, but everyone should have options for safe, effective acute treatment.

Doctors and researchers to discover what’s happening in the body during a migraine attack and why it happens, and to understand why different people respond to different medications and how to best pair a person with a medication.

Primary care physicians who don’t dismiss migraine as just a headache, are aware of how diverse migraine symptoms can be, and know which medications are most effective for migraine.

More specialists who understand migraine. I’m thrilled that the number of certified headache specialists in the U.S. increased by 25% from 2013 to 2014… but 2014 ended with 520 specialists for the 38 million Americans with migraine.


Blood tests, imaging, or genetic tests that that can definitively diagnose migraine. Tests that can prove migraine isn’t just an excuse to get out of work or school or Sunday dinner with the family. Tests that give peace of mind to people who fear they have a brain tumor or aneurysm and are skeptical that this migraine thing could be wreaking such havoc on their bodies and lives.

Everyone who has migraine to be surrounded by people (family, friends, bosses, coworkers, teachers…) who recognize how disabling this disease can be, that we’re not faking our symptoms, and that we’re not to blame for our attacks. I wish for all us to be able to talk honestly about what it’s like to live with migraine without fear of shame or ridicule.

More money for migraine research. Ideally, those who determine government funding for health research will recognize the seriousness of migraine and its cost to society, but private donations to migraine research are great, too.

The absence of “a cure” on this list may seem to be a glaring mistake, but it wasn’t an oversight. More than anything, I wish for people with migraine to have better lives and to lose less time to migraine attacks. We don’t need a cure for those wishes to come true. We need more research, effective treatments, better medical care, supportive communities, and reduced stigma. All those things will improve the lives of people with migraine, whether or not we have a cure. Let’s embrace the tremendous power of these smaller victories while we’re working toward the ultimate dream.

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