The process can be tough, but there’s a lot of value in finding a doctor who supports you and gives you hope that you can manage migraine.
This may sound surprising, but it took me nearly a decade of living with migraine to find a doctor who really cared.
Don’t get me wrong, since I experienced my very first migraine, I’ve made it a top priority to research the best doctors and do everything possible to get an appointment with them.
I am relentless when it comes to finding relief.
In this process of finding the right doctor and treatment plan, I’ve seen firsthand that it’s essential I feel confident in the doctor treating my migraine. And that isn’t easy.
There’s nothing harder than losing hope that you’ll ever find relief from your migraine pain.
Given that I’ve been in constant pain for over 6 and a half years, I know the importance of each appointment in keeping my hopes up.
So, how do my current doctor’s appointments keep my hopes up?
Knowing that my doctor has a plan — that looks a few steps ahead — puts me at ease. I see value in knowing the broad list of “things we can try next” should a procedure, treatment, or medication prove unsuccessful. This helps me feel like there’s always something to look forward to and another treatment to try.
There’s also comfort in knowing that my doctor is proactively doing everything possible to make sure I get relief. I trust that my current neurologist is researching and staying on top of innovations in treatments.
Given that I’ve experienced both positive and negative experiences with my neurologists, I made a list of things to keep in mind when searching for the right migraine doctor:
1. If possible, consider connecting with a headache specialist
I’m lucky that living in Manhattan means I have access to many neurologists and headache specialists. However, years ago, when I lived elsewhere, I would commute for about 3.5 hours for my appointments. At that time, I knew I needed to see the best doctor that I could find, and it was worth the trip.
I was reminded of this experience a few months ago when I participated in an advocacy event called Headache on the Hill, in which migraineurs, medical professionals, and advocates join together and propose legislation to members of Congress.
During the event, I learned that many people don’t have access to headache specialists in their local areas. That means that many people living with migraine don’t see a specialist, or they spend a great deal of time and money to travel far distances to make their appointments.
This dilemma is tricky since it’s important to prioritize getting the best treatment possible while also trying not to trigger more migraine pain with the added stress of traveling to an appointment.
2. Don’t settle
It took me a long time to learn this lesson: Don’t be afraid to look for another doctor.
Trust me, I understand that it can take a long time to research a new doctor and then even more time to get a first appointment. However, it’s important to feel like your doctor is trying new things and instilling that level of hope that we all desperately need.
3. Ask other migraineurs
Given that we’re all battling unique migraine pain, it’s easy to feel like we’re in this alone.
But there are migraineurs all over the world who understand migraine pain (and who are also getting treatment from migraine doctors).
It’s important that we ask for recommendations when it comes to finding new doctors.
I’ve personally built a network of friends with migraine who I can ask for advice on such topics. I’m connected to many of them on social media, and I’m always posing questions to them when I don’t have an answer.
My biggest piece of advice is that there’s no right or wrong way to find the right doctor for you.
Although the process is often tough, I personally found a lot of value in finding a migraine doctor who supports me and gives me hope that I can beat — or at the very least manage — my migraine.
Danielle Newport Fancher is a writer, migraine advocate, and author of 10: A Memoir of Migraine Survival. She’s sick of the stigma that a migraine is “just a headache” and she’s made it her mission to change that perception. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or visit her websiteto learn more.