Seeing a Neurologist Made Me So Happy I Could Cry
Last updated: March 2023
After a string of bad doctor’s appointments and failed treatment options, I finally got a referral to my local hospital system’s neurology department. After the long wait, my appointment day arrived. I was so nervous something would go wrong, and I’d miss the appointment. My kids made it to school, I made it to the building, and my doctor arrived, all on time. He and a resident introduced themselves and went through my history, asking me questions about my history and what I’d put down on my questionnaire.
How do doctors react to my migraine experiences?
I began to sweat. Usually, when I talk about my migraines, this is when my doctors begin to look at me strangely. After years of classic migraine with aura, my migraines disappeared, only to reappear all out of order, less severe, but more frequent, with more neurological symptoms but fewer headaches. This was hard to explain to people. I couldn’t look at screens all day, I was frequently nauseated or foggy, and medications didn’t always work in time to stop the symptoms. I’m used to telling people about this and them nodding in a vague way because they don’t understand or don’t believe me. The debilitating migraine with pain is what people understand. This strange haze I’ve been wandering in doesn’t make sense to them.
How did the neurologist respond?
But the neurologist nodded and said, “That’s pretty typical.” Typical? I’m typical? I’m not crazy? Lazy? Looking for excuses not to work? He looked me in the eye and, when I talked about things like “seeing spots, sometimes,” or “feeling tingly, occasionally.” He didn’t quiz me, looking for exact data points, as if he was looking for holes in my argument. He just believed me.
What did he think of my treatment regimen?
He looked at my medication list and told me I was severely undermedicated in my rescue medication, which is currently 25 mg of sumatriptan. He talked to me about various options for preventative and rescue treatments that he thought might work better for what I was experiencing. I decided to try a monthly injection as a preventative drug.
What did he think needed to change?
My problem, we decided, is that since I’m getting symptoms that are sneaking up on me, like brain fog and nausea, I’m not catching them in time for rescue medication and need to be more proactive in preventing migraines before they start. I take topiramate at night currently and worry that it, too, is causing me some fog. I want to feel clearer and more present. He listened to my goal and my concerns and didn't get frustrated when I told him the various medications I’d tried before and didn’t like.
What did he give me that others haven't?
The appointment was an hour long. I’ve never had a doctor stay in the room with me for more than fifteen minutes.
Every time I think about or tell anyone about the appointment, I burst into tears. “He was so nice!” I say. “I can’t believe how nice he was!” I didn’t need a barrage of tests or a major medical procedure. I didn’t need someone giving me a science lesson. I needed someone to make eye contact with me and to tell me that I was real.
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?