Headaches: Living With Chronic Daily Headaches (cont.)

KAMEN:
We have to be very strong advocates for ourselves. Like I said, if you get a bad feeling about a doctor psychoanalyzing you or belittling you, move on. Women today no longer will tolerate and shouldn't tolerate the old-fashioned parent/child relationship that has been the model in medicine for more than 100 years.

The good thing is I'm part of a new generation of women that feels a whole new sense of empowerment and lack of shame, and insists upon having a partnership with their doctors. So I hope that as consumers, we can force the medical system to change by demanding better treatment. That way, the sexist doctors won't have any patients left. They no longer will be able to financially afford to be arrogant and condescending.

"My life turned around in terms of quality after I came to accept this as a disability."

MODERATOR:
What are the most important things you have you learned from having a headache for 15 years?

KAMEN:
No. 1, some of this will be repetition, but I can't emphasize enough the importance of acceptance. My life turned around in terms of quality after I came to accept this as a disability. That way I stopped butting up against it unexpectedly all the time. For example, now that I accept my limits I'm more dependable. I'll plan less for the day and then I'll be much more likely to enjoy the few activities that I do have. I'm enjoying overall having a much less chaotic and more meditative life than ever, even compared to before I had the pain.

Another lesson is that you have to take it one day at a time and not worry about what's going to happen tomorrow. You have to have faith in yourself to plan wisely and have the strength to withstand whatever may come up that day. In other words, I really learned about the importance of good pain management and reducing emotional pain as much as possible. One useful source was the book From Patient to Person , which is available from the American Chronic Pain Association (theacpa.org is the web site where you can order it). It talks about a lot of basic coping and management principles that doctors don't tell you about, that could dramatically improve the quality of your life.

MODERATOR:
Paula, we are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

KAMEN:
I invite people to visit me at my web site, paulakamen.com for comic relief and also some serious advice. I just posted the 10 red flags of alternative medicine that I learned the hard way. It also has tour schedules for the west coast over the summer.

MODERATOR:
Our thanks to Paula Kamen for joining us today. Members, thanks for all of your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them. For more information, please read All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache . For more discussion on this topic, be sure to visit the WebMD message boards to ask questions of our online health professionals and to share questions, comments, and support with other WebMD members.



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