You’re Probably Not Special

I say this with the utmost kindness — you’re probably not special. Being special in my case means I’m one of the fewer than 5% of people with intractable headaches. The odds are so in your favor that your headaches can be treated.

At the end of Nerve Stimulator Heartbreak, I wrote:

“Please don’t give up without exhausting your options. Once you think you’ve tried everything, ask about and research what other treatments or treatment combinations are available. You’ll be amazed by the possibilities.”

Headache specialist Dr. Christina Peterson highlighted that paragraph in her comments on the post and added:

“There really are so many options, and even if you think you have tried ‘everything,’ very few people really have. And we keep coming up with new stuff all the time.”

“Almost none of us are ‘curable,’ but very, very few of us are truly untreatable. Keep looking — you never know when something will work.”

I’m not defending my turf when I tell you that you aren’t special. I needed to get your attention to say this: Keep at it. Finding the right treatment for you can feel unbearably slow, but it’s nothing compared to spending your life in pain.

And think about this. Many doctors believe that the longer someone has headaches, the longer it will take to treat them. It has been likened to a car engine. At first the car starts just fine. Over time, the engine wears down and is no longer quick to turn over. Eventually the engine (or the pain control mechanism in your brain) stops turning on. When your brain’s mechanism gives out, your headaches become more frequent and less responsive to treatment.

All is not lost. Not even for me. Intractable does not mean untreatable; it means unruly or difficult (but not impossible) to treat.