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Living with Migraine

ER people not taking you seriously enough, it's just me?

  • By chiaragtl

    I actually went to the ER a few weeks ago because I was afraid of hurting myself more than for the pain of the attack, even though that was one of the reasons too. I also had some twisted ideas like cutting myself/overdosing on meds so that they would have take me more seriously at the ER if I did. One odd version of “self-harm to get attention”. Because the first time I went there the only thing they did was making sure I didn’t have meningitis and a indomethacin+antiemetic IV, no neurological or vascular assesment.

    The other time they just asked questions, they didn’t even take my blood-pressure. They were busy with a few red codes, so I understood I had to wait 4 or 5 hours minumum. It’s not like I’m dying. But maybe since I barely can stand and the chairs are all metallic, the lights super-bright etc…and you KNOW a migraineur (migraineuse?) needs quiet, dark and rest, you can give me a pillow or a weelchair with brakes working and that can recline. After a while the pain got better on his own, though I felt much more tired and I went back home with no treatement at all. Either it would get better, so now ER, or worse and my code would go from green to yellow.

    So now I know that if I ever needed to go to the ER I will have to take me a pillow or, even better, pretend I’m worse than I am and call the ambulance so I can lie down on a strecher. I hate faking it, but they force you to.

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  • By EriCha

    I have been to the ER twice for severe migraines, and I agree with you, they did not take me seriously. Both times I had to wait for several hours in the loud and very bright waiting room (I fully understand there are other people in the ER for more urgent issues, but it really would have been nice to wait somewhere without screaming babies or dimmer lights). When I finally got in, I was told to lay down on my back on a table staring directly up at a bright florescent light. Obviously these people do not know anything about migraines. Both times all they did was give me an IV of pain meds and did not do any sort of scans or tests, even though I said it was the worst migraine I had ever experienced.

    I can totally understand how you would feel the need to pretend to be worse off than you really are.

    I wonder if an “urgent care” clinic would be better than an ER visit. I’ve never actually been to one of those, but of course, they are not 24hour like an ER, so options there would be limited.

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  • By chiaragtl

    The problem is that there aren’t urgent care places here that I know. You can stay home, wait for your doctor, you can call a nurse/paramedic home but he/she can’t give you medicines, only refer you to a doctor. So if you have a severe (as in life threatening) problem the ER works really well and it’s free, but if anything between sort-of-ok-maybe-i’ll-gp-to-the-doctor-tomorrow and damn-it-i’m-literary-dying goes on you can’t have a proper treatment.

    Given that most migraines and other chronic problems do fall in this middle category…

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    Sadly, this kind of treatment in the ER happens way too often.
    I’ve found that having a note from my headache specialist that I bring with me to the ER goes a long way to be taken seriously. My doc and I have pre-determined what meds I should have if I feel that the ER is necessary. I keep this note with me and show it to the ER staff. Most of the time they are receptive to it. They can also call the person on call from my clinic to discuss treatment options if necessary.

    I’ve attached a great article that includes some forms you may want to consider bringing with you to the ER. There’s also an article written by an ER doc about how they view Migraine patients.

    https://migraine.com/blog/emergency-migraine-treatment-forms/

    https://migraine.com/blog/migraines-from-an-er-doctor-perspective/

    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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