The Dif­fer­ence

Alternative Medicine - - Condition Spotlight -

They were still very much alike: Both had sim­i­lar jobs work­ing for tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, both were mar­ried with beau­ti­ful small chil­dren, and both had grad­u­ated with bet­ter-than-av­er­age grades. They were per­son­able and filled with am­bi­tious dreams for a won­der­ful fu­ture filled with fam­ily, friends, chil­dren, ca­reers, love, health, and hap­pi­ness.

One of the women's lives was all she had ever hoped for—she had a won­der­ful, lov­ing hus­band, great kids, and a chal­leng­ing and ex­cit­ing po­si­tion in her com­pany re­sult­ing in two pro­mo­tions. She played ten­nis in her lo­cal ALTA league, oc­ca­sion­ally golfed with her hus­band, and they both en­joyed go­ing bik­ing and hik­ing to­gether with their kids as a fam­ily. She was ac­tive in her church, en­joyed cook­ing, and still found a lit­tle pri­vate time for ex­er­cise on her tread­mill, read­ing her fa­vorite mys­tery nov­els, and even hav­ing cof­fee with her girl­friends. Life was good.

Although all of this is true, she'd suf­fered ter­ri­ble mi­graine headaches in col­lege, and for the year or two that fol­lowed. But af­ter that, she had moved on with the help of spe­cial­ized treat­ments from her doc­tor and no longer had any pain.

Her best friend, how­ever, suf­fered from mild de­pres­sion in col­lege and took a pre­scrip­tion an­tide­pres­sant to com­bat it. She now has de­bil­i­tat­ing mi­graines al­most daily. She can barely go through a day at work and has missed quite a few days at the of­fice due to her pain. She had been ad­mon­ished that if she missed any more days she might be fired. When she gets home most days, she has to go straight to bed. Her hus­band dotes on her and of­ten makes din­ner for the kids.

They rarely go out, as she doesn't have the en­ergy to be very ac­tive. Phys­i­cal pur­suits are for­bid­den as they only make her pain much worse. The kids have their school friends but they don't spend much time to­gether as a fam­ily. She watches a lot of TV, and sleeps even more. She takes med­i­ca­tion daily to try to pre­vent the mi­graines or lessen their im­pact, and she's tried so many pills from so many doc­tors that she's lost count; no one and no pills have helped. Have you ever won­dered what can make this type of dif­fer­ence in peo­ple's lives? The dif­fer­ence isn't of ca­pac­ity or luck. The two afore­men­tioned women both started out with the same clean slate, and they both had the same se­vere mi­graines in col­lege to con­tend with.

The dif­fer­ence lies in what each per­son knows and how they made use of that knowl­edge—and in the de­ci­sions they made and the ac­tions they took. You have the power to make those choices, too. If you are liv­ing with chronic pain from mi­graines and no one has been able to help you, just un­der­stand that avail­ing your­self to the right in­for­ma­tion can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world. So what are we talk­ing about here? It all comes down to symp­to­matic re­lief vs. treat­ing the un­der­ly­ing cause.

Tra­di­tional medicine, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, and in­surance com­pa­nies are all op­ti­mized for quick-fix symp­to­matic re­lief when it comes to headaches and mi­graines. In most cases the di­ag­no­sis is made strictly from what the pa­tient re­ports anec­do­tally, not from ex­ten­sive test­ing. The av­er­age doc­tor's visit might be five min­utes in length, re­sult­ing in the pa­tient leav­ing the of­fice with a hand­ful of pre­scrip­tions.

If they help, great. If not, there's a good chance you'll leave the doc­tor with some new pre­scrip­tions to try next time. This is the all-too-com­mon sce­nario for most mi­graine suf­fer­ers. But be aware that there's a price to be paid with your liver, kid­neys, stom­ach lin­ing, and heart for tak­ing some of th­ese drugs. The smil­ing, danc­ing peo­ple we see in all the tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials for th­ese pills may not be smil­ing if they have some of the side ef­fects that we hear the an­nouncer hastily men­tion in the ad's last few sec­onds.

Mask­ing or block­ing symp­toms can only take you so far. If the un­der­ly­ing phys­i­o­log­i­cal cause that's driv­ing the pain is not ad­dressed and treated, the pain con­tin­ues while bod­ily tis­sues de­te­ri­o­rate.

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