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migraine advocacy in the emergency room

Migraine Advocacy in the Emergency Room

Migraine advocacy in the emergency room is written and told by Kelly A. and edited by Miles for Migraine team.  Miles for Migraine’s Advocacy Stories highlights the many different ways that health advocacy shows up as individuals advocate for themselves and others. This project is not limited to migraine and other headache disorders, nor is it limited to individuals that personally experience a health condition.

Migraine Advocacy in the Emergency Room

My advocacy story reflects an experience that is both personal and professional.  I am a clinical nurse specialist who has migraine disease.   My story began during the early evening of April 7, 2021.  I had a strange feeling of losing consciousness while I was walking my dog. Before I could make it fully across the street to a neighbor’s lawn, I landed face down in the middle of the street; hitting my head and scraping my knees and elbows. Thank heavens I live in a residential area with people out and about.  Someone, who turned out to be a pharmacist, immediately stopped and provided me with care.   Others who stopped to help knew me and my dog from walking. One person found my husband at home a few blocks away. 

I wound up in the ER for stitches on my left eyebrow and a concussion evaluation. It was then that I knew it was important to give a complete health history, which included a description of my chronic daily intractable migraine disease symptoms. I had to ask for and then negotiate for abortive medication and medication for nausea. My CT scan was normal.  The ER physician insisted he knew how to manage migraine disease and that I should just relax. Well, that was absolutely the wrong thing to say, especially to me. Since I have had migraine disease since childhood and chronic intractable migraine disease for 20 + years, I am used to being a member of my care team and advocating for my care, as well as for the care of my patients. I participate in treatment planning teams, in both my personal and professional lives.

Using Migraine Advocacy Skills

 While in the ER I had to use my advocating skills to receive basic IV abortive medication and medication for nausea.  To add to the advocacy experience that evening, I had to fight with the ER doctor to contact my headache specialist.  My gut was telling me that I had experienced a vestibular migraine attack and I wanted to receive intervention as soon as possible. Self-advocating was able to get me an overnight admission for observation.

 I contacted my headache specialist early the next morning. We made plans for an “emergency” office visit. My advocacy gave me strength and a sense of control over what could have been a very bad experience. As it turned out, I do have vestibular migraine as well as chronic daily intractable migraine. We are our best advocates, know our body best, and deserve a team approach to care planning and management

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Tell your Advocacy Story

Do you have an advocacy story to tell? What is one of the most memorable advocacy experiences in your headache disease journey/daily life? Try to recall a time when you practiced advocacy. Perhaps you shared your story, posted on social media, or attended an advocacy event such as Headache on the Hill or a Miles for Migraine event.

Looking back on that experience, what did you notice? Did you experience a negative moment such as shame, stigma, or a positive moment such as joy, hope, or relief? If there was conflict, did you resolve it or was it a conflict that still affects you today? If the outcome was positive, how did that make you feel? Did the outcome cause you to advocate again for yourself? How has your most memorable story shaped you today? There is no right or wrong way to share your story.


Are you inspired by these advocacy stories and want to donate to  Miles for Migraine? All or part of your donation may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. Please consult with your tax advisor. Funds raised help with our operational costs so that we can continue to produce races and youth camp events. Money raised through donations and race registrations goes directly to medical organizations researching migraine.

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