Utilizing The Internet
A little bit of history
What we all know as the internet today is leaps and bounds above what it was when it was originally created. It was conceptualized back in the mid 1960’s by J.C.R. Licklider who was the first head of computer research at DARPA.1 The early 1980’s brought Internet Chat Relays or IRC that allowed people to communicate with others all over the world.1 Since the mid 1990’s, the internet resembled what it is today. The big difference between then and now is simply how much more information and content there is available today’s internet. Granted you cannot believe everything you read online, it can still provide you with so much information that you may not have access to otherwise.
What does internet have to do with chronic migraine?
So what does this entire internet thing have to do with helping you deal with chronic migraine? Actually, it may be more helpful than you realize. We have all faced the frustrations of having a doctor who, not necessarily by any fault of their own, have fallen into a routine of only using a handful of different medications to use for our treatment. Some of them cling steadfastly to one specific medication because it has been around for a long time and they have had success with other patients. As a result of this, they will only prescribe one medication to all of their chronic migraine patients.
My understanding is that no one has been able to pinpoint a singular cause for migraine. It can develop as the result of a head injury as well as injuries to nerves. Chronic migraine also develops in people who have had no severe injuries. Despite as long as I have been battling chronic migraine, not one specialist can tell me why I went from being episodic to chronic basically overnight. Every person who suffers is different. If there is no clear cause of migraine that links every patient suffering, it is naïve to think that one medication will help every person with the same level of effectiveness. This is where the internet can become your ally.
Be your own advocate
Your physician likely has an entire practice worth of patients besides you. While your doctor may try to keep up to date with current medical journals as often as possible, it is unlikely that he or she is completely “In the know” about every pharmaceutical company’s newest innovations. With the introduction of sites like WebMD and the countless medication lists available online, a simple google search may show you a new medication or treatment that you and perhaps your doctor haven’t considered. You can search to see if a drug has been FDA approved or if it is still in trial, and typically you can find the results of the drug’s trial noting side effects that occurred. When you come across a newer treatment that may help you, write it down or print it out and show it to your doctor at your next appointment. Ask them to look into it for themselves and see if it might be worth trying in the future. I have personally done this with my rheumatologist and it ended up being helpful. My neurologist does not know it yet but I have medication information I am bringing to her as well!
Frustrations are common
Not all doctors are created equally, just like not all of us patients are equal nor are all of the medications created equally. What works for you may not work for me, and what works for me may not work for you. Frustrations with your doctor can be common, but at the end of the day, try to remember that in this moment in time, we the patients are just as involved in our treatment as the doctor. Sometimes we may need to go that extra mile instead of waiting for the doctor to have some epiphany that may improve our course of treatment.
Have you ever used to internet to find new medications or treatment options? Was your doctor open to them when you brought what you found up to them?