“Nothing works . . . I am desperate for help”

Today I would like to respond to a question that was asked recently (if you would like to ask your own question, just go here). Questions like this are, sadly, quite common.

QuestionThis time I’m going to post the question in full, but I’ll protect this person’s privacy and not include a name.

I have had non stop migraines for 7 years. It is there when I wake up till when I go to sleep. I even get woken up at night with pain. I stutter most of the time, the right side of my body is usually weaker than the right. I am sensitive to light, smells and noise. I have no quality of life, and have to go to bed at least 2-3 times per day. I have tried botox injections, numerous medications, and nothing works. I have also tried holistic medicine. After 7yrs, I am fed up, they never stop. What can I do? I am desperate for help. I have also had CT scan’s, M.R.I’s that just show some white spots on the brain. I am told not to worry about this.

I know many of you feel like this person. Obviously I am not going to give custom medical advice here – neither am I a doctor, nor do I have enough information. But there are a few general things I would like to say that hopefully will be a help to some of you.

  • When you feel “desperate”: It’s not at all unusual to feel like there’s no hope. But I can tell you from many years of experience that I’ve heard from many people who felt that there were no more options who finally found significant or complete relief from their disabling and painful symptoms. There is hope! Yes, there may be times when you need to take a break from treatment, and “trying the next thing”. But on the other hand, don’t fall into the trap of trying whatever you see on the internet or in a magazine because you’ll “try anything”. We’ll talk about that more in a moment.
  • Find a specialist: This person didn’t mention specifically their experience with doctors, but for many of us it may be time to either find a good specialist, or find a new one. In this case, it’s critical to find someone who won’t give up. If a doctor tells you that you’ve “tried everything” and that there’s nothing else they can do – find a new doctor now. There are still options.
  • Medical clues: This person already has an advantage – they are obviously thinking about their symptoms, past treatments, etc. Believe it or not, many people don’t take the time to think through these things. There are numerous things that could help a specialist find answers here. For example, some important clues: pain waking you up at night. Weakness on one side of the body. Length of time with symptoms. Persistence of symptoms. Write these things down (the more organized the better), along with any other symptoms, and the medications you’ve tried (the more details the better). Consider either a written migraine diary, or an app such as Curelator.
  • Scans: Scans for migraine are rarely necessary, unless your doctor has good reason to suspect another condition that would show up in a scan. The “white spots” on the brain likely refer to lesions that are common and probably not the cause of your symptoms. However, because they are common in migraine patients, they are another indicator that migraine is serious and should be treated (see more on brain lesions here).
  • Step by step: It’s very important to take an organized, step by step approach to treatment whenever possible. We’ve basically covered this above, but again it requires a doctor or specialist who is informed and won’t give up, a patient who is informed and won’t give up, and paying careful attention to past treatment, past and current symptoms, and medical history.
  • Immediate action: Waiting to see if a new treatment will work, or waiting to see the doctor, can be frustrating. Many supplements, medications and other treatments need to be tried for at least 3 months to really see if they’re helping. So what can I do now? I would suggest two powerful things that you can work on now. Moving, and Connecting. We’ll talk about these below.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the information that’s out there. Again, it’s a step by step process. But let’s look at those two things I mentioned that should go along with your continued search for answers.

(1) Moving It’s simple – moving your body. I’m not talking about making a resolution to go to the gym for 5 hours a day. I’m talking about any increased movement whatsoever.

This is seriously one of the most powerful things you can do for your quality of life. It can be as simple as this: Go for a walk for 3 minutes today. Two days from now, make it 4 minutes. Two days later, 5. Don’t suddenly jump into major exercise. Find some great music to listen to, and vacuum the floor for a few minutes. Go up and down the stairs. Whatever works for you. But just do a tiny bit more. If you miss a week or two, start again. It will make a big difference, and you can do it now.

(2) Connect Connecting with other people is my other “right now” suggestion. I’m not talking about Facebook or a forum, although these things have their place. Connect with someone face to to face. Even if it’s only once a week, though it should be every day eventually. If you need to find someone who doesn’t mind that you’re in bed, invite them over for 10 minutes to help you with something tomorrow. Make it clear that you can only handle 10 minutes. Better yet, if you can, help someone else with something for a few minutes. Connecting is very important.

Obviously there are hundreds of articles here with information about treatments and advice on improving quality of life. These are just a few highlights. Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts, whether you have a success story, or whether you’re just trying to make this week a little better than last week.

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