I went to the National Headache Foundation (NHF) conference in the Big Apple yesterday. I liked the way they organized the conference and the presentations. We had four great doctors talk; Dr Mark Green, who was also the Moderator, Dr Richard Lipton, Dr Alexander Mauskop and Dr Carolyn Britton. Each doctor did an excellent job!
I have to tell you that I got so many different things out of the conference that I didn't expect to gain. The first silly thing is that although I believe there is help out there for things like weather or hormonal triggers, whenever I have brought them up to any of my doctors, they pretty much told me that nothing could be done to help. It was very strange to actually hear doctors talk about things that can be tried to help us with these triggers. Even if they don't work for everyone, at least something is being tried that has worked for others. It was very refreshing.
I also picked up on additional aura's I have that I had never associated with my Migraines. I've read about them a gazillion times, but I don't know why I never linked them to me before. I can think of two different reasons for my oversite. First of all, when I keep my diary, I usually start after the Migraine hits. I know I should be keeping track of everything that goes on all the time because if I did, I might have picked up on some of these signs a little sooner than in a conference.
Second, I've had these symptoms for a long time. I know I've had Migraines since I was about six because I remember going to the doctor for headaches at that age. I can also remember some of the more severe episodes throughout the years which I thought were normal headaches, but definitely know now that they were not usual. I never connected some of these long time symptoms with my headaches and even after I was officially diagnosed, because these warning signs were still typical to me and just another thing I figured happened to everyone every so often.
I've heard people talking about blurry vision as an aura all of the time. After watching a video, I discovered that was me! I have had this from time to time, but I would blame it on my tired eyes or my contacts when I wore them and just tried to gently rub my vision clear. It never worked, but it wouldn't stop me from trying again because it had to work sometime.
Another visual aura? Someone talked about having problems reading because the words were jumping all over the page. I thought I was just overly tired when that happened, even if I had a good nights sleep and didn't really feel tired. I knew it didn't make logical sense, but I could make myself understand that excuse.
The only real complaint I had about the conference was that the room was a little too bright. I had my hat and could block out most of the light, but I would have expected the lights to be dimmer especially given the audience. I know I should have said something, but sometimes so I don't say something unfiltered and in a tone I don't want to use, I will stay quiet. I've learned that from work.
This room also helped me identify another symptom I had excused away in the past, but will know to look for it in the future. I yawn. It is a different yawn from my tired yawn. These are three more symptoms I know I can look for to warn myself that a Migraine may be coming that I don't think I would have noticed if I hadn't gone to the conference.
I think everyone was somewhat amused or at least could relate to a story Dr Lipton told about his son. He diagnosed his son at home when his son was twelve with having Migraines. Dr Lipton's mother wanted him to get an official diagnosis even though he is a neurologist with a sub-specialty in headaches.
His wife took their son to his very competent pediatrician who said she wanted him tested for Lyme disease or said it could be a sinus headache. When is wife asked about Migraine, the pediatrician pretty much said it couldn't be that, even though there was a family history, and also said that even if it was Migraine, there would be nothing they could do to help with the Migraines. That statement emphasizes how a lot of doctors don't understand Migraine or how to treat it. It's very frustrating, but I don't have to tell you that!
The conference was about Bridging the Gap Between Patient & Clinician. Each physician took a different area to talk about. The topics that were discussed at our conference were: Migraine Impact, Treatment of Migraine, Variety of Headaches and Pitfalls in Headache Management.
Each doctor had a little skit done with their presentation. I think this helped reinforce their topics. For me, I am hoping that it will make me an even better patient especially as I start preparing for a new doctor. It's very important that we tell our doctors exactly what is going on with our headaches and any new symptoms we may experience.
Each item we explain or when a new symptom occurs, can give our doctors the clues they need to properly treat us or give them an indication to run additional tests. It can also be valuable to ourselves to fully explain the impact Migraine has in our lives. This would include all aspects of your life; work, home, social, etc. How is a doctor supposed to know how Migraines really affect us unless we specifically tell them?
I really enjoyed the conference and would attend another one in the future. The NHF said they would like to keep having these conferences and is planning additional ones in the future. I can't wait!