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HeadWay, Issue #027 -- Are you a frustrated patient?
October 21, 2005

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In this month's issue:

Are you a frustrated patient?

Test your friends!

Say what?! Norontin

Are you a frustrated patient?

For several months on the website I was collecting stories about your experiences with doctors.  As you might guess, there were a lot of concerns and frustrations when it came to working with doctors.  The stories came from all over the world.  Here are some of the top complaints:

» Obviously, people are frustrated when a doctor can't find the problem, or can't properly treat it.  Of course, this is not always the doctor's fault, though it's still frustrating.
» Then there were the doctors that didn't seem to bother trying to find the real problem.
» Other patients were concerned because the doctor did not seem to listen to them and their concerns.  This is a common complaint.
» Finally, another common complaint is the way drugs are prescribed.  At times it seems they're just haphazardly thrown at the problem without proper screening.  Other times, patients find it difficult to access the drugs that actually help.  Patients want drugs that actually improve the quality of life, not just drugs that take away pain or solve one problem only to create another.

So how can you find a doctor that will really work with you to solve the problem?  Here are 5 quick tips:

1. You're responsible - Remember, you are the one primarily responsible for your health.  This means you need to keep track of your medical and family history, stay informed, get second opinions, and look for answers outside of the doctor's office.
2. Make sure you're comfortable with your doctor - Does your doctor listen to you?  Does she seem to brush aside your concerns, or does she really want to help?
3. Check your doctor out - There are a number of resources now that can help you choose a doctor.  If you're looking specifically for a headache or migraine specialist, try some of the tips on our Migraine Doctors page.  Find out how you can check the credentials and specialties of your doctor.  Of course, you should feel free to just ask!
     Many insurance companies now have ways of helping you find good doctors.  You can often check credentials online - for example, in the USA visit the American Medical Association.  If you're looking for medical help in English worldwide, try IAMAT.
4. Recognize that your doctor is part of a team - You will probably need to organize a team of specialists.  You may see a chiropractor, a neurologist, a rheumatologist.  Is there a doctor that can generally oversee your care?  Is she willing to consult with other specialists?
     Early results of our poll (see this page, halfway down the page) show that most people see many doctors for treatment.  Are they working together?
5. Is your doctor creative? - In other words, is your doctor open minded to new treatments?  Is she curious about your symptoms?  Can she think creatively about how symptoms may be connected?

It's important to understand your own symptoms.  Your illness can be the result of several things at once.  In writing this article I came across an excellent resource that I've never mentioned before (actually, it's brand new!).

It's a book called What's Wrong with Me? by Lynn M Dannheisser and Dr Jerry M Rosenbaum.  This book guides you through 8 steps to accurate self-diagnosis, finding a doctor, and researching on the internet.  The book specializes in "mystery" ailments, and it gives advice on helping yourself as well as knowing where to go to get help when you need it.

An older book which may be helpful, is Diagnosing Your Doctor by Dr Arthur R Pell.  It's full of practical information, though non-Americans will find it pretty mostly USA specific.

Test your friends!

So you've been diagnosed with migraine.  You tell your friend that you have a migraine today and you wonder - what are they thinking?  Sure, they may care, but do they really know what you're going through?

It's time to see just how sensitive your friend is.  Ask them to take the Migraine Quiz!  It's 15 simple true and false questions, designed to separate those people who really understand from those who are doomed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Ok, you're not allowed to ditch your friend if they fail the quiz.  After all, you'll probably discover that they've learned a little something new, and they might come back to you with some real questions about what you have to deal with day by day.

Let's be fair - before you email it to all your friends, take a couple of minutes right now and try the Migraine Quiz yourself!

Say what?!  Norontin

Yes, I cheated.  Norontin is actually a common misspelling of the real name of this drug, Neurontin (gabapentin).  Neurontin is an anticonvulsant that has been used to treat migraine and cluster patients.

At least one study has shown that Neurontin is effective in migraine treatment.  It's actually common for drugs of this class to be used in the treatment of migraine.  Read this article for more on preventative migraine medications.
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