Goodbye to the Headache Doctor

He was going to school in Connecticut when he woke up one morning with a severe headache.  He went to see the doctor, and was told it was migraine.  But the doctor’s attitude was,"So you have a headache – big deal!  Live with it!"

The experience started a lifetime of research into the causes and treatments of headache and migraine.  While still a medical student, doctors came to him for advice.  When he started to practise, colleagues referred patients to him who had headaches.  He became known as "the headache doctor", at a time when there were few who took headaches seriously.

The common belief back then was that headaches were due simply to stress or poor coping skills.  But seeing so many patients that were stable emotionally, he became convinced that there was a deeper cause.

He worked with the drug ergotamine, started one of the first headache clinics in the USA, was a founding member of the American Headache Society, and its president in the mid-80s.  The AHS awarded him with the Distinguished Clinician Award.  He was also an associate professor of medicine at Hopkins, and was on the staff of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for 54 years.  He retired 3 years ago.

The USA is mourning the loss of the headache doctor, Dr. William G Speed III, who passed away on November 15th.  He was 87.

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