The First Stages of the Demanding Cycle of Trying New Treatments
Last updated: September 2022
There is a demanding multi-stage cycle involved in trying new treatments. It is a complex, time-consuming, and depleting process. In part one of this two-part series, we'll cover the first four stages in the cycle. Part two will cover the remaining stages.
The first stage
Excitement and Hope. Even though we are aware there is no cure for migraine, we still hope that perhaps we will find a magic treatment that will result in relief. We have all read stories about life-changing approaches.
Excitement and disappointment from CGRPs
The recent CGRP drugs initially had a LOT of hype about dramatic impacts for the majority of people who tried them. It was hard not to get one's hopes up. However, those hopes were dashed for many of us, and reality hit when they didn't work as dramatically for us as they did for others.
Will I get my life back?
Regardless of how many times we've tried new treatments, it's a challenge to keep our hopes in check as the stakes are so very high. "Will this treatment give me my life back?"
The second stage
Doctor Buy-In. It's generally a good idea to run new treatment strategies by our doctors. It can sometimes mean having hopes immediately dashed or raised higher. Perhaps the doctor may offer sobering information about how this or that treatment could negatively interact with another medication we are currently taking such that we need to weigh our options carefully before proceeding.
The third stage
Logistics and time commitment. Once we've talked with our doctors, perhaps we learn we'll have to take time to taper off one medication before we can start on the next. Or, maybe this new treatment will require time to establish a baseline in our system before we'll experience the full effect. Therefore a commitment of several months may be involved.
Will the treatment be covered by insurance?
We also learn whether or not, if so, and how much our insurance will help us with this experiment. Sometimes this step stops us in our tracks due to the expense involved. Others of us are so enticed by the potential promises that we're willing to pay out of pocket, and these expenses can be very high.
The fourth stage
Side Effects. When we step into the world of a new treatment, we open ourselves up to potential side effects. There is such complexity involved in this phase for many reasons.
Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?
First, if we are taking other medications, it can be tricky to parse apart whether or not the new treatment is the cause of a new side effect or if an interaction between two treatments is the problem. Importantly, we must weigh whether or not side effects are worth whatever benefits the treatment provides.
Are we experiencing a marked enough decrease in attack intensity to justify the aphasia? Are two fewer migraines a month worth a weight gain of 5 pounds? 10? Is waking up at night several times too many? What about only once? What are we willing to accept in trade for some relief? Will these side effects fade over time, stay the same or worsen? Are we up for staying the course to find out?
There are no easy answers here, and very few treatments have zero side effects.
The remaining stages
Read Part Two of our series about the additional stages involved in trying new treatments. They include:
- (5) The Importance of Considering Long Term Effects
- (6) How to Achieve Life Balance When the Process is Consuming
- (7) Taking a Break from Trying
Does this process resonate with you? How do you maintain balance while seeking solutions to migraine?
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?