Migraine and Headache Awareness - The Hot Wings for Headache Challenge

Health Professional

Hey, folks, have you heard of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge? Unless you've been living under a rock or working on becoming a hermit, of course you have. It's amazing how something so simple can have such an amazing impact. It is great to see a devastating disease receive such support and an amazing influx of donations. If anything is going to clog up my newsfeed, I rather it be ice buckets than political commentary.

So it only seems obvious that other diseases will follow suit in one way or another. And that brings me to what I hope to become the next successful social media challenge, Hot Wings for Headaches:

Hopefully by now some of you have heard of it, but probably most of you have not, since it was just started a couple of weeks ago. Here's how it works: Eat some hot wings, don't drink anything for 30 seconds, donate to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF). Oh yeah, and video it, and challenge your friends and post it on whatever social media sites you prefer. And really, the wings don't have to be that hot. You can choose whatever you prefer. You could even lie about it if you want - how would anyone be able to tell over a video? Not that I'm encouraging lying.

In case you are interested in the background of how this challenge started, here you go. I was in clinic one day with my buddy Dr. Chris Nance - our ALS clinic director, and Tiffany Lannan, our headache and migraine nurse practitioner. We were planning our ice bucket challenge and started talking about other diseases and what their challenges would be. Some ideas included ear piercing for epilepsy and punch in the gut for Parkinson's. We also thought of hot tubs for headache. Just sit in a hot tub and make a video. It kept the water theme of the ice bucket challenge, but just didn't seem like a great idea for more reasons than I can include in this post. We then went to hot sauce for headaches, which quickly moved to hot wings for headaches. Then we got excited, cause we like to eat wings, and here was an excuse to do so. Our local Buffalo Wild Wings is only about 100 feet from our clinic, and they were more than happy to accommodate us, providing a private room and even comping the wings. I wish I could make the process sound more intellectual, but really, it wasn't.

I'm sure there will be some who will have issues with this challenge. I'll try to preemptively guess what these are and address them. If you still have issues, I understand. Just ignore it, and donate to AMF.

  1. I'm tired of social media challenges. Fair enough. But they work. Social media is one of the most powerful tools in our society right now. The NIH isn't doing it's part to fund migraine and headache research. Pharma research is often easily questioned. Social media challenges are effective and is not going away, so we may as well make it work for us.

  2. Hot wings are a trigger for my migraines. Ouch. That stinks. Honestly, I hadn't thought it through that far when we put this together. As the creator of the challenge, I hereby grant immunity to anyone who is triggered by hot wings. They may choose a different food substance. Or again, just donate. One thing to remember, though, is that the hot wings eaten in our video do not contain MSG. So if that is your concern, your excuse is gone. Get eatin'.

  1. I'm a vegetarian. Ouch. That also stinks (for you). Refer to answer #2.

  2. The commercial chicken farming industry is abusive. You're excused.

  3. This is going to get in the way of other fundraising efforts for headache and migraine. Really? Are there so many other headache fundraising entities out there competing for your dollars? If you really feel that you need to choose between the hot wings challenge and another event, just pick one. Money for headache and migraine research is money well spent, no matter to whom you give it. If we ever get to the point that we are really stepping on each others toes, that will be a great day in the headache and migraine world.

Migraine and headache research is suffering from a lack of funding. While I don't suppose the Hot Wings for Headaches Challenge will raise $100 million like the ice bucket, why not go for it and let's see what we can do? That's the thing with advocacy - it isn't always perfect. But if we wait for someone else to do it or come up with a better idea, it could be a long wait. So let's do it.

If you've read this, consider yourself challenged. Go eat some wings, make a video, challenge your friends, donate a few bucks, and let's see where this takes us. #hotwings4headaches.

© David Watson, 2014.