Saturday, December 29, 2012

Migraine Specialist’s Lights Brutal

In the month of December, I went to my doctor’s office once a week. These visits gave me the time to think about what really aggravates me about the office and to sort things through. The first three visits were not with my regular doctor, but the last one was with him.

I had wrong expectations around my doctor’s office from the beginning. I was under the impression that his office was like dying and going to Migraineur heaven. I heard the office lighting was very soothing, there was little noise and no smell triggers to set us off. Well, two out of three …, no I can’t even say it. The lighting in my specialist’s office is horrible!

I remember the first time I approached his office for a visit. The door has the sign pictured above – “Please Do Not wear Perfume or Cologne on the day of your appointment. Scents can trigger headaches in some patients.”

My first thought was - Wow, it really must be as great of an ‘office’ as I have heard; the long commute should be worth it not only because I was finally going to a true Migraine specialist, but they seem to take care of the whole you here.

Well, the office does not have anyone wearing perfumes and it is relatively very quiet, but that’s where it stopped. It’s worth repeating, the lighting in my specialist’s office is horrible!

The waiting room is full of exposed CFLs! There is not a darker area anywhere to be found. The examination rooms are probably bright enough to lead Santa’s sleigh on the foggiest Christmas Eve on record! I can definitely understand needing that type of light when performing procedures, giving oodles of shots and things like that, but for talking or before and after those procedures, I can’t think of a single reason why my Migraine specialist’s office needs to trigger a Migraine for me every visit.

I am embarrassed to say this, but I have taken comfort by sitting in the hall and only going into the waiting room at the last minute. However, I have found that there are scents in the hallway, but the lights in the rooms are much worse than the occasional passersby who have a bad scent.

I had mentioned this ironic discrepancy to some of the nurses throughout various visits, but they always gave excuses or said that’s the way my doctor wants his office. By the time I saw my specialist, I was already seeing spots and lines and wanted to get out of his office as quickly as possible. I would go through some of the things on my list and be glad to get out of the illumination nightmare as quickly as possible.

There was too much going on in my life during my summer visits with one of those visits being the worst visit I’ve ever had with a doctor (not because of him). Before this last visit with him, I realized I needed to go into his office with several different communication plans so I would definitely talk with him and only him about the lighting.

I found the plan that was appropriate for that visit. He defused me in a kind of lousy way, but at least I brought it up to him and will again during the next visit.

His first quick remark was that the lighting sucks. Then his off the cuff sarcastic comment was basically around funding. Really? I’m funding my visits to him every time I go there plus taking a day off of work. My two hour trip has easily turned into a three hour trip both ways plus parking is not cheap in this city either. My doctor is very good and works very hard, but I also get charged for every little thing I request.

His next statement was that they may be moving their offices to a different location in the hospital. If or when that happens, the lighting will be taken care of and be much better. But what about now?

I will talk more about the lighting during my next visit. I am half contemplating bringing in boxes of incandescent bulbs for the waiting room too. Honestly, I don’t get the hypocrisy between these Migraine triggers.

How is the lighting in your Migraine Specialist’s office? Is it dreamy like it should be or nightmarish like my doctor’s office lighting? How would you handle this ludicrous situation if it were your doctor?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Migraine App and Giveaway Winners

I’ve had a little over a month to try out the new My Migraine TriggersTM app which was developed by the makers of Excedrin® Migraine along with a leading neurologist who is well respected in the Migraine field. This app is available on iTunes for free.

Unfortunately, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to test out this app. I’ve also shown a few people how easy the app is to use and where they can go to download it for themselves. Don’t tell my sister I said this, but she was actually able to download this app by herself and found it pretty easy to use too.

My sister liked the way things flowed from one screen to the next; they seemed logical, easy to maneuver around and simple to add anything she wanted to within the different areas. The only feedback she had was that when she would enter in her Migraine after it started, she didn’t know how to answer the question ‘How long did it last’ since her Migraine was still going on and hadn't completed yet.

How well did the app work for me? Overall, I really liked the app too. It’s so much easier to keep track of my Migraines using the My Migraine TriggersTM app than trying to write everything down in the heavy planning calendar that has limited writing space which I carried around before testing the app; to help keep track of my triggers, symptoms, medications and pain levels.

I liked the way I could track possible triggers, to see if they may be delayed triggers that could take up to 48 hours to trigger a Migraine.  This feature may be more helpful for me when I get my Migraines under better control, but it’s something that my sister can use now.

The My Migraine TriggersTM app is real easy to use and has the flexibility to add what we need to any of the areas we should track especially since we are all different and have our own tracking needs. I like the quick charting capabilities where I can simply see potential triggers I’ve been exposed to and pain levels experienced in a pie chart format while the percentage of triggers I was exposed to 24-48 hours before a Migraine, symptom frequency and pain locations were clearly read in a bar chart format.

I found I could put my preventative medication changes in the notes section as well as anything else of special interest to me or my doctor. Everything I put into the My Migraine TriggersTM app also reports out in a diary log. This diary and the graphs can be printed out or emailed wherever you want.

I mentioned in my first post about the My Migraine TriggersTM app that I also keep a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has grown over the years and gives me a lot of what I like to see around my Migraines, but it is also missing things that I would love to see in a Migraine app.

I currently have two graphs on my spreadsheet which track my Migraine evolvement over the year. It graphs them month-by-month and week-by-week where I can see some very interesting things that have happened over this period. It also includes trend lines so I can easily tell the progress of how my Migraines have been going.

There are two important items where my spreadsheet falls short and I would love to have an app take over these holes. I need to track my FMLA usage and find a way to track my MIDAS scoring. I feel both of these items would be reflective of how I am coming along with my Migraine management and my doctor asks for MIDAS with every visit.

I’ve adapted my spreadsheet for some things my Migraine specialist requires – it will calculate average number of Migraines and intensity level per month as well as the average number of Migraines and intensity level per month since my last doctor’s visit. It will also highlights the most severe Migraine and the number of times I was at that level since the last visit. For me, it also keeps a running total of the medications I’ve taken on a MTD and YTD basis. My spreadsheet doesn’t touch FMLA or MIDAS yet.

Since I’ve never really tested a Migraine app on a small device before, I can only give a wish list that I don’t even know if it is too outrageous to ask for from an app. In addition to FMLA and MIDAS, I would want to be able to export the data into a format I could use to import into my spreadsheet or use wherever else I would see fit. I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up my spreadsheet yet. The other small area I would want to see improved on the app is that the report currently does not list the medications I’ve tried and put into the app.

Now for the fun part as congratulations go out to the winners of the Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kit giveaway. First of all, I want to thank everyone who participated by commenting on my blog. The two winners, who were chosen at random, are Pam West and Snubs. Pam and Snubs, please contact me through MigrainePuppet at gmail so we can make arrangements to give you your Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kit.

Overall, I have to say that I like the My Migraine TriggersTM app so don’t forget to download it from iTunes to try it out for yourself. Also, stop by the Excedrin® Facebook page and on Twitter to help you with your Migraine journey.

Disclosure: I am an Excedrin® Migraine brand ambassador. One iPod Touch to test the app was provided by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., the makers of Excedrin® Migraine; my journey for a Migraine-free experience is my own.