Man smiles back at purple hair dye shaped like a migraine advocacy ribbon

Purplification for Migraine Advocacy

A month or two ago, a purple-haired migraine advocate said, "I dye my hair purple to advocate for migraine. Are you willing to do this too?" My flip response: "for $5,000." And after a moment's thought: "and for $10,000, I will grow and dye a beard too." Next thing I know, this diabolical patient advocate of mine was collaborating with Miles for Migraine for a fundraiser on giving Tuesday, raising $15,000, and the die is cast (aaargh).

Two weeks later, a scruffy beard emerged, and the overly gleeful Jefferson Headache Fellows made an appointment. Three and a half hours of bleaching and dying later, the deed was done.

So here are my observations:

Was I embarrassed?

To my surprise, I am not embarrassed or humiliated. It feels like joining the cool kids, which nerds like me never get to do.

Did people come up to me?

Strangers do not come up to me, so I do not get to practice my prepared one-liner: "I'm standing out for migraine, which is an invisible, highly disabling, and stigmatized disease." I also don't get to practice my elevator speech: "Migraine is the second leading cause of disabled days in the world, yet discriminated against by NIH, Social Security, businesses, schools, insurance companies, families and people in general due to the stigma – and my purple hair is a gesture to bring awareness to this." Perhaps this is because I work in Philadelphia, but nobody said anything outside the city where I live, either.

What did my colleagues think?

My colleagues are impressed. Even my chairperson, who is definitely not one of the cool kids, seems to approve. I really think it helps the non-headache doctors appreciate migraine more because I am willing to do this. The elevator speech is useful for them.

What do my patients think?

My follow-up patients are thrilled. The new ones – I do not know, but I think it is ok.

Miles for Migraine

I'm proud of my profession – we are less tradition-bound than I thought. Yale is planning to have a purplified bearded doctor for its' Miles for Migraine race, and at least one other headache doctor and her son are going to purplify with me at our M4M race next year! I hope this becomes a common way of advocating at M4M races next year.

So far, I am very pleased with how things are going.

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