Whether it’s migraine or another health issue, there’s a principle I very strongly believe:
The person with the most at stake needs to be — and gets to be — in charge.
The person with the most at stake is not our doctor — it’s each one of us living with migraine — a condition we live with every minute of every hour of every day.We get to be in charge. In fact, taking charge is how we rule migraine disease.
Of course, “taking charge” often means different things to different people. When it come to taking charge of our own health and health care, it means:
- Acknowledging that we, and not our doctors, are ultimately responsible for our health.
- Recognizing that migraine is a genetic neurological disease, and diseases often need regular health care throughout our lives. This is a fact that few of us likes to face, but recognizing that migraine is a disease — just as surely as diabetes, epilepsy, and many other conditions are diseases — can put things in perspective for us.
- Accepting that there are some areas of migraine management — such as avoiding triggers, following a sleep schedule, exercising when and how we can — that require dedication and discipline on our part.
- Allowing ourselves that five-minute pity party when things get tough, then getting proactive and fighting back.
- Finding the right doctor and working with him or her as treatment partners.
- Building and maintaining a solid support system.
It’s amazing how much difference taking charge can make. It’s truly empowering to say, “I’m in charge, and I will prevail.”
It may not be easy, however. Finding an effective preventive regimen can take time and patience. Still, it’s different when we’re in charge. If a treatment fails, we can ask our doctor what our next options are, discuss those options with our doctor, and make a decision about what to do next. It’s often easier to live with our own informed decisions than to live with decisions that others have made for us.
I’ve lost track of how many people have told me that migraine is ruling their lives or that they feel they have no control over anything. Taking charge changes that. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take charge so that you can rule your migraine.
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+.