When you’re in pain, it can be hard to stay focused enough to advocate for the care you need. Being prepared can help.
Be Your Own Self-Advocate
Tips for better appointments with your care team.
Before the appointment
Find the right doctor
If you have a family or primary doctor, reach out and ask for a referral to migraine specialist. This may feel like a series of phone calls or emails that seem exhausting. But, getting the right doctor will save time and frustration later.
Do everything you can to see a specialist. This doctor is likely to have more time to spend with you and take the time to truly understand your symptoms. Asking for a specialist is a common request. If you don’t have a doctor you see regularly, your friend Google is there: try “headache doctor” and your state. Alternately, calling your medical insurance can be a great path to finding a specialist – have them do a lookup.
Make notes before your appointment
Write out a script or bulleted list of what you want to cover with the doctor. You’ll have a short amount of time, and you’ll need to cover a lot of information quickly. Don’t feel silly bringing in your script to the doctor. This is common, and it will help you keep on track.
Keep track of symptoms, medications and migraines
The days of writing down symptoms in your notebook, keeping track of that notebook, then squinting to read your handwriting are over. Get an app where you can keep track of symptoms, medications and triggers. Your app should also track migraine severity and timeframes. It’s key that the app allow you to collect information with as little effort as possible – that means you’ll track more.
Yes, we’re biased. But, we truly believe Migraine Insight’s toolkit is right choice. Tracking migraines is a breeze. Automated trackers are ‘set it and forget it.’ Our focus has been on making things easier to track. This means you collect more data. You can bring clear summaries to your appointment, with the right information.
Armed with information that’s useful to your care team, you’ll save time and have a better discussion with your doctor. Doctors are used to seeing printed or app-based information, and a lot prefer app summaries over written logs because they are more scannable.
If you can, keep a log of triggers and bring summarized information
This is where Migraine Insight is helpful. Your doctor won’t have time in the appointment to review thousands of points of data. With an app that has trigger analysis, you can present your doctor the findings and they can look into the data themselves with your summary as a guide. You can either print your summary or bring your tablet or phone with the information. Either way is perfectly fine.
During the appointment
Bring a friend
If possible, bring someone you trust who knows your condition. You might feel silly having someone come with you — don’t! Many patients to do this so they have someone to take notes for them, or ask questions they may be forgetting. This isn’t always possible, so arm yourself with your script, and record the appointment with your phone. You can then follow up with any questions you may have missed.
Say everything, even if you start to get emotional
Being in pain can lower our defenses and make us easily tearful or angry. There’s nothing embarrassing about being emotional at the doctor. You’re getting the help you need. Tell the doctor everything, and be assertive, even if your voice shakes.
Take a breath and be open
The doctor may need some time to get familiar with your case. Listen and take a breath before responding. You may have the urge to immediately push back at suggested treatments or plans, but give yourself 3–5 seconds before answering to evaluate whether you’re answering from a place of calm or pain.
Get the next steps
Sometimes we leave the doctor feeling like we don’t know what’s going to happen next. Ask your doctor specifically for your next steps, with a timeline. This could be something like, “Try this medication for two weeks, track your symptoms, then let me know how it goes.” It could be a list of additional tests. Whatever the next step, wrap up the appointment with a plan.
After the appointment
Going to the doctor can make you feel vulnerable and prone to migraine triggers. Whatever you have planned after your appointment, schedule in some self care, whether it’s a deep breath session at your desk to re-center yourself, a hot bath, a nap or tea. Give yourself a few moments to acknowledge any anxiety you may have.
Keep track of your appointments in a journal. Write the date, the doctor seen, and what you discussed. If you brought a friend or recorded the appointment, check your resources for anything you may have missed. Write down your next steps and put a reminder on your calendar for your next step.
Follow your plan
Keeping organized with your plan and next steps can feel impossible when the pain hits. Do your best to follow the treatment plan prescribed, knowing you may have days where your only plan is to get through each minute. Shoot for following the treatment plan as best you can, when you can, and track your results in the app and your journal.
Join a support group
You aren’t alone. So many people are experiencing exactly what you feel, right now. Many support groups are online and easy to access. Try googling or looking on social media or locally for migraine support groups — they’re out there, and they’re full of people just like you, ready to help you!
This can feel like a lot when you’re struggling and in pain. Take it slow and one step at a time, and do what you’re able, when you’re able.migraine
Our Team: We are Here to Help
Our dedicated team is on a mission to help people better understand their migraines and triggers. Our app helps you find better answers to your migraine questions. Everyone working on our app has lived with migraines. We are your community. And, we’re here to help. Reach out any time with questions. [email protected].
As always, for medical questions, please seek the advice of a doctor. Our app team cannot give medical advice.
Track Your Triggers
Get the Migraine Insight Tracker – iOS App Store
Write to us [email protected]