You’ve just seen your doctor for your Migraines or headaches. Do you want to get the most from that appointment? Of course, you do! We all want to optimize the impact of every appointment on our Migraine and headache management. Here are 10 things to do after that appointment:
If you took notes during the appointment, be sure they’re complete and will make sense later. Review your notes, then store them for future reference.
2. List any questions you didn’t ask and questions you thought of after leaving your doctor’s office.
Call your doctor’s office with your questions. Note the answers and store them with the notes from your appointment.
3. Keep your Migraine information organized.
Whether you want to keep all of your information on your computer or keep written or printed information, keeping it organized will save time and problems. Information to keep:
Lists of questions you’ve made to ask your doctor, and the answers.
Notes on medications you’ve tried.
Your Migraine diary.
Any other information you’ve accumulated.
If you choose to keep the information on your computer, choose a place to save all of your files and name the files so they’re easy to identify. If you choose to print out your information or keep hand-written notes, a binder or a small file box can be helpful in keeping them organized so you can easily find what you need.
Whether you put the patient information sheets in a folder, a notebook, or someplace else, it’s helpful to keep them in alphabetical order so it’s quick to find the one you need. We often need this information when we don’t feel well, so simple is best.
5. Reorganize your medications.
If there are medications you will no longer be taking, dispose of them safely or put them away somewhere in case you need them again later.
Opioids and other medications that have the potential for abuse or sale on the streets should be locked in a safe place, out of site of anyone who might come into your home.
Because of fluctuations in temperature and humidity, the bathroom and kitchen are not good places to store medications.
6. Update your family and friends.
Anyone who helps you on a regular basis or when you have a Migraine should be updated on what you learned at your appointment and any treatment changes. When we’re hit with a severe Migraine, it can be hard to tell someone what we need. So, tell them in advance and agree on a place where you can leave notes about what medications and other help you need at those times.
7. Take stock on a regular basis.
It’s tempting to ignore things that might rock the boat. That includes medication side effects, changing Migraine patterns, and other health issues. Giving in to that temptation can result in our not feeling as well as we might. Once a month, or more frequently, stop and take stock of how you feel. Take a look at your Migraine diary. Are your medications producing an side effects? Have your Migraines changed in frequency or intensity? If there are issues that shouldn’t wait until your next appointment, call your doctor’s office.
8. Don’t blame everything on Migraines.
Especially, if Migraines are chronic, it’s easy to blame everything on Migraines. After all, who wants to deal with more health issues? New or strange symptoms, especially if the occur between Migraines, may indicate another health issue. Don’t assume that these symptoms are “just Migraine.” They may or may not be, and we need to take good care of ourselves overall as part of managing our Migraines. Better health means being less susceptible to our Migraine triggers.
Remember that Migraine and depression tend to be comorbid conditions. If you find yourself exhibiting signs of depression – lack of interest in daily activities, sleeping to escape, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, problems concentrating, not taking pleasure in life – check in with your doctor to see if you need treatment for depression.
Don’t ignore the “spiritual” side either. This doesn’t necessarily mean religion. It can mean your philosophy of life, belief in a higher being, and so on. All of this is part of being healthy.
10. Be diligent and proactive…
Continue learning about your Migraines, medications, and general health.
Remember – The person with the most at stake gets to be in charge. When it comes to our health, that’s us. Our doctors, of course, have something at stake in our treatment but, for us, it’s literally a matter of our lives. We are in charge. We are ultimately responsible for our health.
Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.