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AHMA Patient Conference Travel Scholarships Available

The American Headache & Migraine Association’s first patient conference is just a month away, on Sunday, Nov. 24, in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. Attendees will hear presentations from top headache specialists, learn about treatments and coping methods, and meet other patients and advocates. If you’d like to attend, but can’t afford the travel costs, AHMA is offering eight $500 scholarships to help cover transportation, lodging, and meals. Hurry, though — this Friday, Oct. 25 is the scholarship application deadline!

Wondering how to make $500 stretch to cover your costs? The hotel’s group rate is $85 a night for a room with two double beds and there’s a thread on the AHMA forum to arrange for room-sharing. In addition to providing a free breakfast, the hotel has refrigerators and microwaves in each room so you can store snacks procured at the nearby Trader Joe’s, Fry’s grocery, or Whole Foods. Lunch is included in the $25 conference registration fee. The hotel also offers a free shuttle within a 3-mile radius, free transportation to and from the conference, and an airport shuttle for $10 per room. Other than airfare, it’s possible to make this trip on a shoestring and still have a great time!

Learn more about the conference and the scholarships on AHMA’s website:

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Wearing Sunglasses Indoors Can Worsen Light Sensitivity

“Wearing sunglasses indoors actually worsens your photophobia,” my headache specialist warned me when I wore my polarized sunglasses to my appointment. The effect is not unlike medication overuse headache — you use a product because it helps, but by using it too often (or indoors instead of out), you actually became more susceptible to the problem you were trying to solve. That appointment was the last time I wore sunglasses indoors or after dark. Now, whenever I see migraineurs recommend wearing sunglasses to deal with fluorescent lights, computer monitors, TV screens, or any other bright light (like here and here), I want to yell, “Please, please don’t wear your sunglasses indoors or after dark! It can make you even more sensitive to light!”

But I can’t because I’m a co-owner of TheraSpecs, so anything I say makes readers think I’m trying to market my product. In a way, I guess I am, but only because the tint on TheraSpecs provides a better alternative to sunglasses indoors and won’t increase a person’s light sensitivity. The same neurologist who warned me against wearing sunglasses indoors or after dark is the one who told me about the precision tint that filters out the painful wavelengths of light. He has no financial ties to a company that sells glasses with this tint, he just knows it’s a better alternative than wearing sunglasses indoors. Because his suggestion helped me so much, Hart and I decided to make light-blocking frames with this special tint readily available to anyone with light sensitivity.

Now I’m in this bind of wanting to share the information that I have — information that could help migraineurs avoid exacerbating a major symptom and potential trigger — while being silenced because some people may think it’s marketing. Yes, TheraSpecs makes great products that help a lot of people, but that’s beside the point. Migraineurs are potentially worsening their photophobia by wearing sunglasses indoors and are encouraging others to do the same — and because of my affiliation with TheraSpecs, I can’t warn them of this risk. It’s so frustrating!

sunglassesindoors

 

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The Faces of Migraine Video

You must watch The Faces of Migraine! This incredible six-minute video illustrates the startling statistics of migraine and the profound impact it has on patients’ lives.

Patient advocate Ellen Schnakenberg, her son, and a team of volunteers put together The Faces of Migraine. They’ve done a wonderful job of depicting the harsh realities of migraine. Please watch and share with your loved ones to help spread the word about migraine.

Go to the Faces of Migraine website to share your story or suggest future video projects.

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Welcome to Migraine & Headache Awareness Month!

The awesome advocates of the American Headache and Migraine Association have put together an impressive array of events and information for the June 2013 Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, all centered around the theme of Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders.

The second annual Migraine & Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is underway with 30 days of movie-inspired prompts. Write for your existing blog or start a new one just for the month. If you don’t have a blog, you can respond to the prompts and post your insights on social media or write in a journal to share with those close to you. Even if you don’t show your writing to anyone else, writing down your thoughts about migraine or headache will raise your own awareness about its impact on your life. If you don’t start with yourself and your own beliefs, how can you influence anyone else?

Check the Fighting Headache Disorders blog daily for links to tons of blog posts. And be sure to read what the patient advocates at Migraine.com have to say in response to prompts (I’ll be writing four of them). Find bloggers’ favorite posts from the challenge in this month’s Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival.

Not a writer? You can participate in a Twitter challenge or daily photo challenge. Use social media to share facts about migraine and headache disorders (already compiled!) or post photos that document your life with migraine or headache. Be sure to tag your posts with one of the following hashtags so others can find what you share: #MHAM, #MHAM13, #MHAMBC (blog challenge), #MHAMTC (Twitter challenge), #MHAMPC (photo challenge)

Not a writer or social media user? Print out these migraine and headache disorder facts to hang in your office, community bulletin boards, or neighborhood telephone poles.

Phew, that’s a lot! I’m so appreciative of all these opportunities and can’t wait to see all the contributions.

Even if you don’t participate in any of these organized activities, I urge you to do at least one thing this month to increase someone else’s understanding of migraine or headache disorders. Maybe that’s describing to a non-migraineur how crippling a migraine attack is or telling someone who thinks migraine is “just a headache” about the numerous and varied symptoms a migraine can include. Perhaps you let someone who has mild, episodic migraine attacks that are treated with OTC meds know that may people get no relief from drugs, OTC or prescription, and others are disabled by daily migraine attacks.

Or you could do something even more difficult for most migraineurs — don’t diminish how severe your attacks are or pretend you feel better than you do. Oftentimes we choose to put on the masks that hide the severity of migraine. That may get us through our day-to-day tasks, but it also prevents others from having any real grasp on what life with migraine is truly like.

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American Headache & Migraine Association: New Patient Organization

The American Headache & Migraine Association (AHMA), a new patient-centered organization for people with headache disorders, is now accepting members! Although the organization is in the early stages, it is already providing great opportunities for patients, including a free, daylong patient-focused conference in this November. The conference will feature presentations by some of the top physicians in headache medicine.

Here’s an overview from AHMA (I’ve done a little rearranging and highlighting):

Our goal in establishing AHMA is to: EASE the burden of migraine and other headache disorders, such as cluster and tension type headache and trigeminal and occipital neuralgia, through Education, Awareness, Support and Engagement.

PROGRAMMING

It’s important to everyone involved in AHMA leadership for our members to help direct the course of AHMA programming. By joining AHMA this early, you can have a strong influence on the direction of our efforts and ensure they help meet your needs and desires and those of the other members.

Right now the most significant programs/events we have in place are:

  • A members-only support and information forum. It can only be accessed by joining AHMA. New members are sent the link and the password to access it upon joining.
  • A free, members-only patient conference, which will be held on Sunday, November 24, 2013, in Scottsdale, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix). We’re still hard at work planning the conference and finalizing details, but some of the most brilliant physician experts in the AHS  have already volunteered to present on topics of special importance to Headache Disorders patients and their loved ones. We’re working hard to make the event as affordable as possible.
  • AHMA has already started engaging in social media, so please like and follow us if you haven’t already:

MEMBERSHIP/DUES
Membership dues are reasonable. The membership types and respective dues are as follows. (Note: An effort to establish and set dues for a Lifetime Family Membership category is currently in the works.):

  • $15 per year: Standard Membership
  • $250: Lifetime Membership
  • $0: Active Duty Military and Immediate Family; Disabled Veterans and Immediate Family
  • $25: Family Membership for two or more members in the same family at the same address

Please visit EaseHeadacheMigraine.com to join AHMA.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  • Chair: Teri Robert; Co-Chair: Dr. Paul Winner
  • Chair Elect: Ellen Schnakenberg; Co-Chair Elect: Dr. Bert Vargas
  • Vice Chair: Bob Wold; Co-Vice Chair: Dr. Rob Nicholson
  • Treasurer: Julie Zellner McDonald; Co-Treasurer: Dr. Rebecca Wells
  • Secretary: Diana Lee; Co-Secretary: Dr. Rob Cowan

For more information about AHMA and to join, please visit EaseHeadacheMigraine.com.