Setting Reasonable Goals for Headache and Migraine Treatment

Patient Expert

The transcript of this podcast is below. If you prefer to listen to it, you can do so easily from the MigraineCast Web site.

Hello and welcome to MigraineCast.

Recently, someone with very frequent and severe Migraine attacks told me something her husband promised her. He promised her that, when she'd been Migraine-free for six months, he'd buy her a plane ticket to visit a friend.

On the surface, that seems like a nice thing to do. But it brought to mind the subject of setting realistic goals -- goals that aren't too easy, but aren't so difficult that we'll want to give up. I consider my Migraine preventive regimen to be extremely effective, but it's been many years since I was Migraine-free for six months.

The first thing we need to accept is that Migraine is a genetic neurological disease for which, at this time, there is no cure. To be permanently Migraine-free is, therefore, not a realistic goal.

Still, with more than 100 medications and supplements that can be used for Migraine prevention!(1) and virtually endless combinations of them, effective preventive regimens can be found for the vast majority of Migraineurs.

So, where do we begin to set realistic goals? I suggest that process begin with taking a good hard look at where your Migraines and treatment stand. Are you making progress with your current doctor? How long have you been seeing this doctor?

If you've been seeing the same doctor for an extended period of time, how are things going? Do you and your doctor communicate well? Do you still have hope that this doctor can help you? If the answers are, "No," it's time to look for a new doctor. No doctor is the right one for every patient. It may be time to look for an actual Migraine specialist.

Next, sit down with your doctor and ask for his or her assistance in setting goals. I suggest incremental goals. Set a long-term goal, and incremental goals or steps along the path to your long-term goal.

If you're having a headache or Migraine every day, you might want to set your first goal at achieving at least a couple of pain-free days per week. If you're having two or three Migraines a week, one Migraine a week would be a reasonable incremental goal. After that, strive for one Migraine in a two-week period, then in a one-month period, and so on. As you achieve each incremental step, it will be victory for you, and it will be worth celebrating.

Write your goals down. Share them with someone close to you. Blog about them. Let others who understand support you along your journey. I suggest not setting specific dates for reaching your goals. That too can be discouraging.

When I began working with a Migraine specialist to bring this disease under control, I was averaging five days a week in bed all day with Migraines. I was thrilled when I got down to two days a week and ecstatic to go a week without a Migraine. Now, I sometimes go two or three months without a Migraine. No, it's not a cure, but to me, it's the next best thing.

If you're struggling with frequent headaches and Migraines, please do not lose hope. Do not give up. There is both hope and help.

Coping with severe headaches and Migraine disease for over 40 years has brought me to the realization that learning about Migraine disease and headaches can allow us to work with our doctors as treatment partners to gain control over headaches and Migraines rather than them controlling us.

(1) Headache and Migraine Preventives - It's Impossible to Have Tried Everything!