Editor’s Introduction: This piece was written by Dr. David Watson, a UCNS certified Migraine and Headache specialist who wears many hats:
- He is the director of the Headache Center and chair of the neurology department at West Virginia University.
- He is the chair of our medical advisory board for MigraineDisease.org and reviews much of our content.
- He’s a tireless advocate for patients with Migraine disease and other Headache disorders, attending Headache on the Hill annually to speak to our legislators about our needs.
- He is the founder of Runnin’ for Research, a nonprofit organization that raises money to fund Migraine and Headache research.
- Dr. Watson has Migraine himself, so he knows first-hand what it’s like to live with Migraine disease. He recently told me:
“I do get migraine with aura and without aura – didn’t realize it until I became interested in headache and had one of those “V8” moments of realizing what was happening. As a teenager I used to get visual aura without headache, but always just thought I had something in my eye. I can remember driving and not being able to read the left half of the license plate on the car in front of me. I almost never get migraine unless I deserve it – often related to consistently not getting enough sleep, eating poorly. Red wine is an immediate trigger, so I avoid it.”
Dr. Watson is my Migraine and Headache specialist. One of the things I appreciate most about him is his straight forward attitude. He’s also wonderful about laying out all of my options so we can make treatment decisions together. Without further ado, here is Dr. Watson’s advice for your first visit with a Migraine and headache specialist. ~ Teri Robert
** The photo above is Dr. Watson (right) with Teri Robert and Representative David McKinley.
- Take the time to review which medications you are on, doses, and how often you take them. Even the ones not for your Migraines or Headaches. If I don’t know what you are currently doing, I can’t safely tell you what to do differently.
- Please, please, please take to time to review which medications you have been on before, how you took them, and for how long. If I don’t know where you’ve already been, we’re likely to end up there again.
- Don’t bring your grudge against doctors with you to the visit. Unlike many other doctors, I chose to try to help Migraine and Headache sufferers. I’m on your side. Really. That’s why I’m a Migraine and Headache specialist.
- Organize your story. Even though I probably have more time for your visit than other doctors you’ve seen, I don’t have all morning. If you bring me 50 pages of records, I’m not going to read them all. Maybe I should, but I’m not. At least not today. You will appreciate this if you are my next patient.
- Be open to ideas that may take you off guard. If I suggest that you see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe you or think you are crazy. It means that I know there is good evidence that certain types of therapy can help to actually reduce Migraine. You may also be a little crazy, but we’re all a little crazy. That’s beside the point.
- Remember that getting you better requires a team effort. I’m going to give you advice, possibly prescribe medication or other treatments, but you have to do the work. If I ask you to keep calendars, stop caffeine, and take a daily preventive medicine, and you return without doing the first two, don’t blame me for the third not working.
- Expect me to be able to explain why I’m recommending something. If I can’t tell you why, then I probably don’t have a very good reason. “Because I said so,” is never a good enough answer.
- Don’t put all your eggs in my basket. You need to maintain your locus of control. I am human. While I likely have somewhat of an ego about Headache medicine, I can’t help everybody. If I could, I’d probably be retired and sitting on a beach somewhere. I’m pretty sure I know more about Migraines and Headaches than the last doctor you saw, but there is still a lot that none of us know.
- If you don’t like what I tell you or you don’t agree with me, that’s OK. Just remember that I use social media, too. You wouldn’t want me to badmouth you in a blog, so please don’t badmouth me.
- Maintain hope. I have seen patients who have suffered for years who found relief with the correct diagnosis and treatment. You do need to learn to cope with your present situation, but work with me so we can improve your future.