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This Blog Does Not Contain Medical Advice (But What Should it Contain?)

I am dismayed by the number of people who told me they read my post on magnesium and immediately started taking 700 mg of the supplement. They didn’t look into recommended dosages or side effects, they just started taking as much as I said helped me. In the almost seven years since I began The Daily Headache, this is the first time I’ve felt like what I’ve written has been misconstrued as medical advice. Fortunately, magnesium is fairly safe and the effect of taking too much — diarrhea — is pretty obvious. But the situation did get me thinking about this blog and its purpose.

I blamed myself because I didn’t include details about magnesium and its potential dangers in the post. I resolved to not post (much) until I had written a thoroughly researched piece on magnesium. Hence the dearth of posts for the last couple weeks. As much as I want to, I simply don’t have the energy to research and write the post. Because I have chronic migraine, I spend a lot of time feeling too brain dead to write. When I feel good, sitting at a computer is the last place I want to be. I love writing and research and, yet, I spend so much time on my butt that I want to be cooking or cleaning or talking with friends when I feel OK, not isolated at the computer.

Since I began blogging again in November, my posts have been more my personal experience and less about what’s in the news or researched headache or migraine information. Being on the computer is no longer a trigger — I have special glasses that help with that — but what I’m interested in writing about is different than it was seven years ago. People tell me that my own stories are actually the most useful to them, but I struggle with feeling like all I care about is myself. Now that one of my personal posts has lead to people taking medication without further research, I’m conflicted.

So now I’m wondering: How do I balance sharing personal experience without being self-centered? Should I restrict the topics that I write about if I’m not up to doing research about them? What should this blog be? Do I write about what I’m thinking about or what I think readers want to read? What do you think?

12 Responses to This Blog Does Not Contain Medical Advice (But What Should it Contain?)

  1. Aoife says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve only recently found your website. Your post on magnesium came at a really great time for me because my migraines have become more frequent since last summer. Magnesium is one I haven’t looked into, but because of your post and it’s referral to reading material and other posts. I bought the kindle version of ‘The Magnesium Solution for Migraine Headaches’ by Jay S. Cohen. It has been incredibly interesting reading, and because of this book and other info from the web, I’ve started on a 200mg daily dose of magnesium until I can talk to my migraine doctor again in April and see about increasing it.

    I find I really identify with your posts, and much of what you write shows me new ways of sharing the impact of this with my boyfriend. Don’t blame yourself for other people’s jump to medication over becoming their own advocate. You did not write the entry saying this will work for all, you said ‘this has been working for me’. If it would make you feel better you can always have a disclaimer at the end of every entry like those crazy car ads!

    I think this blog should be whatever you want it to be, whatever you need it to be; rant, therapeutic sharing, or information sharing, and more! Congratulations on all this, and keep going.

  2. Sue says:

    Yay for the glasses!!!!

    For what it’s worth, my feeling is that it’s your blog, therefore you determine the content. I understand that feeling hesitating over the “post” icon though. Sometimes a heartfelt and thoughtful personal reflection can feel somehow too “revealing” – something like blogging n*ked. (We preacher-types have regular nightmares about preaching sans-clothing – for the same reason).

    When you put so much of your inner self out there, it becomes vulnerable. And yet it carries within it a message that just might change someone’s day.

    Perhaps someone will stop by and find that you have had a similar kind of day and feel less alone. Perhaps someone will read a few posts and discover that you have a wealth of experience when they are at the beginning of their journey with chronic illness.

    So there is a bit of risk involved in personal story telling, but also the possibility of great benefit as well. That benefit may well be a cathartic one for you, and that’s great!

    A few years back, I had a troll on my blog who consistently griped about how “self-centered” my blog was because I posted about my chronic pain. Turns out she’s a nurse!!!!! Compassion much? Anyhow, I blocked her.

    My blog. My content.

    As far the medical part of it – would a disclaimer be a way for people to understand that yours is not a medical site and folks should consult their physicians etc…? You could either add it as a footer at the end of each post or put it in the sidebar.

    Just a few thoughts….now I’m off to the hospital with my shades. *grin*

  3. JeanneMK says:

    I hope that you write whatever you want to write. I’ve been a lurker on your blog for a while now, and am delighted that you’re posting again.

    People need to take responsibility for their health. Jumping at a treatment because a well-informed blogger is using it is a bad idea. If my best friend is a chronic migraineur and a medical doctor, and she finds a treatment that works for her headaches, I should still talk to my doctor before trying the treatment myself. I’m sure my (hypothetical) doctor friend would agree.

    I find it helpful to hear what other people are experiencing. I hope you write what you’re thinking about.

  4. Valerie says:

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile & enjoy reading it because of the fact that it is your personal experiences more than a medical fact site or whatever.
    I can google for more medically-based sites, but it’s rare to find someone willing to share their experience. Feeling like I can relate to you, I love the blog.
    Anyone with a medical condition should know that ingesting any medicine is serious. If they want to blindly follow what a blogger says without researching or speaking with a physician, that’s on them, not you.
    If it makes you sleep better, you could include a disclaimer at the end of those posts that remind desperate readers that you aren’t a dr and blah blah blah.
    I beg of you–please don’t get all medically-proper on us!

  5. Lily Ellis says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for six years and it’s still one of the first I check for updates every day.

    You have to write about what you’re thinking about and although there may be the temptation to always do the research and get it right (whatever right might be for you), sometimes the best writing is personal.

    However, you also have to write about what you find comfortable; if you are concerned about what readers take away from a post, I think your writing and the pleasure you gain from it, might suffer. I don’t know what would work for you, disclaimers work for some, limiting what you write about or how you write might work for others, whatever the solution, I hope you have one already and will keep writing even on the really bad days.

    Whatever you choose to write about, I’ll still be checking your blog for updates regularly.

  6. I was recently diagnosed (and then un-diagnosed – long story) with chronic migraine. Yours is one of my favorite migraine blogs. I’ve had a blog called The ICI Experience going since 2007. For most of that time I’ve had a medical advice disclaimer in the sidebar. Just seems like common sense to me. Can’t hurt and might save my ass someday. There are some crazy people out there. I read your magnesium post and have since been studying up on magnesium and experimenting with raising my dosage. No overdosing and even if I did I wouldn’t think of blaming you for it. That’s because I’m a pretty reasonable person.

    I am also trying to move my blog towards some topics larger than my own experiences with invisible chronic illness. Like art therapy and non-toxic personal products for example. This happens to be where my ICI experience is taking me. As Sue said: My blog. My content. I’ve gotta take control wherever I can find it!

    Good luck to you and thanks for a great blog.

  7. Katie Burke says:

    If it’s meaningful to you, we will all find something in it for ourselves. I truly believe that, and it has always been my experience reading your blog. I’ve been reading since its inception, and I haven’t felt the least bit alienated by your shift into more personal writing. Quite the opposite, actually.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve arrived at a very happy conclusion, which you can read about in tomorrow’s post. 🙂

    (Sue, I stole “My blog. My content.” for my title.)

    Kerrie

  9. Christine Robbins says:

    Hello, I have chronic migraine as well and just discovered this…great blog! I was wondering what type of glasses that you use when sitting at the computer? I love to write as a hobby, but when I get home from work, sitting at the computer is the last thing that I want to do given that it typically brings the pain level up a couple of notches (which is already usually at least a 5 or 6 by the end of the day after sitting in front of the computer at work).

    Oh, and I wouldn’t worry about blogging about magnesium. I’ve found that it helps me as well. I think that typically people research about a new supplement or vitamin before starting it (and if they don’t, they should!). Like you pointed out, magnesium is a safe one as supplements go (and while taking too much can be unpleasant, it wears off pretty quickly). If you haven’t already, you might try magnesium lotion (although it does sting if it’s the full-strength oil).

  10. Timothy Bauer says:

    Kerrie:

    Let yourself off the hook. You did not do anything
    inappropriate with the blog on magnesium.
    You are making a difference by the blogs.
    Keep it up-girl.

  11. paul hill says:

    I have just discovered that if I offer medical advice or say that I have a cure for migraine that I am breaking the law, and that it is hereditary and incureable. Ok, what if I DO have a cure for migraine and know that it is NOT hereditary then it becomes impossible for me to reach all/any of the sufferers whose posts I read in forum after forum moderated by hyperchondriacs like Supreme Guru who apparently LOVE their bloody migraines. I don’t dare butt in and INADVERTENLY contradict the moderator or she’ll remove my posts, even though what I might have to offer would give her the information to become completely migraine free If I put a lot of material on a forum then I’m told I’m setting up a blog and get locked out. This situation is INSANE. There is no spam, snake oil, exploitation in my message. It is TOTALLY eliminate ALL refined sugar from the diet as the FOUNDATION stone, then look at other triggers which are secondart to/exacerbate the effect of refined sugar. When I say TOTALLY I mean NO self delusion I’ve written up all of the details, the biochemistry, endocrinology, heamatology, pathology etc, of the disorder and am prepared to subject it to any scientific scrutiny. I have PROVEN this CURE with a number of people becoming TOTALLY migraine free, one woman after 28 years. There is NO catch. If you are interested please drop me an email.

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