The importance of educating yourself about migraine

If you’ve read my previous migraine blogs here on WebMD or my personal website, then you know how I feel about the knowledge. If you’re not familiar with my stance on being in the know, then you’re about to know a lot about what drives me.

Rumor has it that knowledge equals power and I wholeheartedly agree with such assertions. My brain disorder, aka migraine, held me hostage until knowledge set me free – one piece of information at a time.

In the late 80s, my own ignorance prevented me from defending myself against injustice at work. My colleagues judged my inability to function with a “headache” and bosses accused me of abusing the company’s sick leave policy.

I allowed my peers and superiors to label me weak and unethical. Little did I know that I had a defense against misconceptions and discrimination back then. I couldn’t educate them about my illness because I hadn’t educated myself.

Friends thought I had headaches, and many of my family members chose to look away as I retreated into the image others had chosen for me. Before I understood migraine, I allowed it to steal time from my life, gaining power as it affected relationships, work, and my mental health.

I didn’t want to be a victim, so I needed to fight. Knowledge is the sharpest weapon against my incurable disease and the misconceptions surrounding it. Migraine cannot be defeated, but containment is possible through the power derived from knowing my enemy and knowing my rights.

Once I was diagnosed in the 90s, I was given a treatment option – Imitrex injections. The injections worked well and worked quickly, but they were painful for my leg and my wallet. I entered into discussions with my doctor and pharmacist on several occasions and discovered that favorable changes were afoot.

Pills and nasal sprays became an option. Generic brands came on the scene and I was introduced to preventative medications. Treatment has become easier, more customizable for my version of migraine, and more affordable for my wallet. Now I continue to seek advice from other migraine fighters and keep an eye out for scientific advancements in medicine.

Figuring out my specific triggers didn’t happen overnight. Through seminars, internet research, conversations with my doctor, and lots of trial and error, I sifted through the noise and discovered my triggers. Now I can manage my illness with a preventative plan to avoid exposure to known causes of my episodes.

Despite my best efforts to siphon off the hope of victorious migraine-free days, in the worst part of a migraine attack, I still feel helpless and alone. Some battles are won and others are lost. One thing is certain: the journey is long and my quest for migraine knowledge is never over.

Migraine evolves through the stages of life, from puberty to menopause and beyond. I must remain diligent in observing subtle changes in trigger and symptom patterns. I have to keep researching information on new treatment options. I must continue to connect with my fellow migraine warriors and try to share my knowledge with anyone who will listen.

Knowledge teaches the mind, enlightens the soul and brings to light lost faith. Knowledge frees the body from the chains of ignorance and gathers an army of solitary warriors. The path of knowledge to a better life should not be traveled alone.

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Photo credit: Nicky Lloyd via Getty Images

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