Published: December 6, 2009
One of the best aspects of my clinical work is meeting the wide variety of interesting people that are referred to see me. Most are very friendly, appreciative and work positively with me as we try to resolve a wide range of health issues. Occasionally there is a patient that stands out because of their exceptional excitement about their progress.
One such patient was in my office a few days ago. He is always extremely pleasant, courteous, and enthusiastic about his visits. I noted that he has never missed an appointment, is usually a few minutes early, and has referred several other people to our office.
Many patients are appreciative and refer others, but this gentleman has enthusiasm that goes beyond that of the ordinary patient. I wondered why he was so keen about his treatments and reaching out to others.
“I appreciate that you are so prompt and consistent with your treatment schedule,” I told him, “and that you have referred so many people. Why are you so positive about your care here?”
He grinned, “Doc, if you told me to walk backwards and spread feathers on my head, I would do it! You helped me get rid of my headaches. I haven’t had a headache for months. Before I began treatment, I was having a headache nearly every day. They literally were ruining my life.
“I had tried everything. I had seen my family doctor and he prescribed several different medications. Some drugs made me tired. Some didn’t work at all. Some worked for a while, then wore off. I had seen a neurologist, a cardiologist and a sleep specialist. They all recommended different medications. I tried massage and physical therapy. Those treatments helped some. I tried everything. I would get some relief temporarily, but nothing made a difference for very long.
“The headaches affected my work, my relationships, my sleep; almost every aspect of my life. This treatment is the first thing that has been successful for me. I am not about to miss a treatment!”
This story is similar to that of other patients that have suffered from long-standing headache complaints. It seems that of all the success stories that we have heard related to various conditions, patients with headaches are the most enthusiastic.
Headaches are a leading cause of disability. Patients with chronic or recurring headaches often miss work, costing them valuable income and affecting their career.
Headaches are one of the most common illnesses that have a profoundly negative affect on relationships. Let’s face it; it is hard to be pleasant when your head is pounding. A female patient told me a few years ago that after her headaches had disappeared her husband had told her that she had become a different person. He commented that she was nicer to him, more understanding with the kids, and generally much more fun to be around. She had explained that for the first time in months, she was not having constant head pain. Until they had that conversation, she had no concept of how much the headaches were affecting her relationships.
People of all ages experience headaches. When I take a health history for kids and adolescents I learn that their headaches often cause them to miss school and generally make their lives miserable. This makes it very rewarding to see children with frequent headaches respond. Thankfully, most kids respond faster than adults.
Headaches can be caused by so many conditions that a patient may have to look to several types of providers before they find their solution. Fortunately, for most people, some form of treatment will ultimately be successful. Sometimes people give up too soon in their search for relief and resign themselves to learn to live with chronic headaches.
Countless patients have been told that “there is nothing to do” to help the headaches. This implies that the provider they are speaking with must have universally authoritative knowledge about all possible treatment options. Obviously, this is not the case. I encourage people to keep looking.
There are many patients that find relief from unconventional methods. Next week: Seven innovative tips for frequent headache sufferers.
Dr. Mark Kestner