We had a couple of conversations with potential patients this week. Their providers had made referrals to be seen by us, but then they hesitated to make the appointment because they assumed it was a waste of time. Both of them made the point, “I’ve had these headaches for years. I’ve been to other headache clinics. I am hopeless.”
Maybe it is from my experience working at Mayo Clinic that I developed a real interest in the most difficult to treat patients. It isn’t that I have some secret treatment that no one else has. Most headache clinics (whose providers are members of the American Headache Society at least) are on the same page. But there are several reasons why no one is hopeless and why I would love to have the opportunity to help them.
First of all, headache treatment is always improving and will continue to improve as time goes on. There are things we are doing this year that we weren’t doing last. Secondly, I have a persistent compassion and I don’t give up very easily. When someone has failed all the mainstay treatments, I don’t just throw up my hands. I spend time to look at studies throughout the world for ideas. There are an infinite number of combinations of treatments. Lastly, and I think is key, we do make the time to listen carefully to the patient to make sure they are receiving the best treatment for their type of headaches.
But with that said, we never give up hope.