By Brittany –
All too often I hear horror stories about chronic illness warriors who are so disappointed and discouraged with the medical professionals on their team. I’ve had friends in the community who have had doctors straight up tell them “there’s nothing I can do for you”, and I can only imagine how heartbreaking and devastating receiving news like that must be.
I feel so fortunate to have had amazing doctors in my corner from day one post-concussion. Although I didn’t always agree with the suggestions and recommendations of my medical professionals, I always felt like I was heard in why I didn’t agree with certain treatment suggestions and what I felt would serve me better.
My current specialist, Dr. F., is one of the top headache and pain specialists in the world. He was on the board that designed Botox treatments for chronic migraine and he teaches doctors all over the world on the protocol for the injections.
When I had my first consult with him, I automatically felt relaxed and at ease. He doesn’t feel like your typical doctor. He’s one of the most warm, inviting, and compassionate doctors I’ve ever met. He took time to not only get to know my medical history, but my personal life as well. My partner came with me to all my appointments and they developed a bromance that always made me giggle. It’s so comforting to meet a medical professional who genuinely cares about all areas of your life and your support system.
Because of the relationship we developed very early on, it was so easy for me to talk to him about anything and everything. Whether we poked fun and make jokes with one another, or I sobbed in defeat or pain, I always had his undivided attention and compassion.
In that first consult, he said something to me no doctor has ever said to me before. He told me I will get better, that he fully believes that. But if I didn’t believe it myself, it didn’t matter what medical plan we took, what medication he prescribed, if I didn’t believe in my ability to heal and recover, I’d never get better. I cried, because he was absolutely right and I knew it. My belief in healing had grown less over time with so many treatments not being effective.
My homework was to focus on reframing my belief system and be aware of my surroundings, of the energy I was giving and receiving as it related to my mental and physical health. He reassured me there would be waves in my journey to recover, that there would be days I would feel better and days I would feel worse, but to maintain my belief in healing.
We began my treatment with weekly nerve block injections, and within the first 2 weeks I had my first day without a migraine in over 8 months. Over the course of a few months, I had more relief and improvement than I ever imagined. Although there were some successes, it wasn’t enough to render continuing with the nerve block injections after the 7th set.
We then switched to Botox and added in Tizanidine to help with my continuous muscle spasms and to improve my quality of sleep. It’s been a slow, compound effect with each treatment, but continued progress on my journey to healing.
One thing people who have never experienced chronic pain don’t understand is, every little bit of relief counts. People from the outside will bash a treatment, saying it’s not working because the results are minimal. In my second 12 week cycle of Botox, I didn’t have a migraine free day, but I did have a 50% reduction in symptoms for 5 weeks. To me, that’s huge! To Dr. F., that’s huge!
There’s no cure for migraine, no quick fix, and no miracle drug to take. All too often I hear “How do you function? I know so-and-so who can’t get out of a bed with a migraine, she gets them really bad.” Or “Why haven’t they found a cure yet?” Or “Have you tried x-y-z? That helped for so-and-so.” I appreciate any and all input and suggestions, but chances are I’ve tried it. However, that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to trying it again or with a different practitioner.
I run everything by Dr. F. I take a checklist into every appointment with me that I create on my phone throughout the month so there’s no trouble remembering all of the things that have come up in my body or recommendations from outside sources that I haven’t tried.
I can imagine the stress and frustration many people go through to find a good quality doctor, but I’m here to tell you that they do exist and don’t give up hope on looking for one. Here are my main tips for for teaming up with your doctor.
– Go into every appointment prepared. Bring along questions, comments and a support system as a second set of ears, and who can also advocate for you.
– You know your body best.If a treatment plan is suggested to you that doesn’t resonate with you, don’t be afraid to speak up to ask clarifying questions.
– If building more of a personal relationship with your doctor is important to you, tell them that. Get to know the staff in thew office as well. That way, you can feel more relaxed when going to your appointments.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals out to other professionals.Whether it be another specialist, a psychologist or psychiatrist, physiotherapist, etc., it’s okay to have a team of doctors. They have a laundry list of professionals they’ve compiled over time and most of the time are more than willing to refer you out for some different options.
– You need to be your own advocate. This not only means doing your own research on medical professionals, but also on your condition(s) so you have a better understanding when you meet with your doctor. There’s no way they can cover everything about your condition in an appointment, so always be prepared.
Remember, you’re doing better than you think you are. I’m proud of you, keep going, you’ve got this!!