Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The X Factor

At my job at the call center, many customers exaggerate things, for example like how long they have been on hold, because they think they will get more action and attention. When I take a call, I can see how long they have been on hold before I take the call. They are not aware of this so they will say something like “I’ve been on hold for twenty minutes” and I can see they’ve only been holding for five minutes.

Therefore, it makes me wonder if doctors think their patients exaggerate things to get more attention, which is truly frustrating because I’m honest with doctors and I’m trying to get across how bad things are for me. How can you explain your situation to a doctor and not come across as a desperate nut job or a drug seeker?

I’ve been working on keeping my migraine diary, thinking that maybe if I show this to my new doctor (when I find one) they might believe me more, but when I read it, I look like a royal mess. No one can possibly be this miserable. It looks like the deep, dark secrets of a drama queen.

I’m really frustrated keeping this diary and I’m not convinced a doctor isn’t going to think I’m exaggerating in here as well. I’ve been writing down my pain levels, symptoms, and some triggers like weather, etc... Maybe I should tone down the language like "my brain feels like it is filled with steel wool on fire!"

What kind of things do you put in your migraine diary?


How to Cope with Pain said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head (isn't that a great metaphor when blogging about migraines :) ...

Doctors like data, and are probably more likely to think it's objective and non-exaggerated. Dramatic metaphors I'd keep to a minimum.

For those who might be interested, I posted last week on What Doctors Want From Patients, http://www.howtocopewithpain.org/blog/187/what-doctors-want-from-patients/. Some how-to-talk-with-your-doc advice.

Anonymous said...

I write what meds I use and rate my pain (low yellow, medium blue, severe red), note vomitting, and staying home from work, and staying in bed sleeping. Each day with a migraine is circled and the meds fill in the day. The day gets a color. It's easy for the doc to see how things are going. If you have a good doc you won't have to plead your case too much.

Anonymous said...

I feel such a level of frustration in simply reading this post - not because of you, Migraine Chick, but because I've faced the same thoughts when talking with my doctors. If you keep a headache diary, you worry that it will be judged and so will you. "Did I take too many meds?" "Did I wait too long?" Maybe they will think that the pain couldn't possibly be "that" bad. If you don't keep a pain diary, then that seems to be the default for most doctors (in my experience anyway) when they can't figure out a treatment plan. It's sure is a double-edged sword. I hope for you the time you've spent recording will be respected by your next doctor. Good luck!

Amy said...

I can certainly relate. In my experience, like another commenter said, if you don't keep a diary, the doctor's almost use that against you and say "keep one for a month, then come back and see me", so I think it's best to keep one and have it at the ready. Things I keep track of: weather (I found the barometric pressure affects my migraines this way); where I'm at in my monthly cycle (this doesn't have any affect on me but it's something every single doctor asks, so it's good to know and chart); sleep--how many hours I got, if it was more or less than usual; food--not a trigger for me, but I wouldn't have known unless I journaled; work stress or other stress factors. Best of luck to you.

nutmegan said...

I need several diaries - one is just the facts, Ma'am, for the docs and also for me to be able to see how I'm doing, what helps - i also use colors for degree of pain and note triggers. Then there's my total venting journal - just for me - then there's my blog which is sure a great place to talk about burning steel wool! (Made me laugh there!)


MyChronicLife said...

When I was having daily migraines I kept a diary of how long they lasted, what I ate, what meds I took, pain scale, stress or not, etc. I made a list with colums and rows for the dates. I think that's all my neurologist wanted.

But I agree with the others to continue to keep your diary because you'll be asked for one from the next doc.


Migraine Chick said...

This is some great advice. I think I'm going to do the objective diary for the doctors, just the facts, Ma'am.

Then I'm going to keep a venting journal to let off steam and continue to blog about things like the burning steel wool.

princesscathy said...

I would definitely keep a diary, I like the calendar approach where you color code the pain and put possible triggers/activities/meds in the block. I would probably not tell a new dr that your brain feels like it is filled with steel wool on fire, but only because they may not appreciate your personality yet and may think you're exaggerating (even though I know I've felt the same thing and can vouch for the metaphor.)

Migraineur said...

This post is intriguing - I never gave much thought to what my doctors think about me.

I have been reading Fat Doctor a lot lately. She's fascinating in many respects, but one thing that's eye-opening is when she talks about her patients (no identifying details, of course). It gives me a view into how doctors see patients.

I'm still pretty pleased with the specialists and semi-frustrated with my primary care doc. I still haven't figured out what to do about her. I don't loathe her, but I'm not totally pleased by her either. The one thing I can say in her favor is that she refers me to GREAT specialists.

Anonymous said...

I've been to 4 neurologists, a pain management specialist and my primary doctor for chronic migraine and servere occiptal neuralgia and the best I can get from them is a script for topamax which I keep telling them does not work for me and makes feel worse.

I am in excriating pain everyday and I can't even get through to those around me as to just how much pain I am in. I might as well be talking to a Chinese 7 year old when I talk to these doctors.

My vision is blury, my memory is shot, my balance is off and I'm barely the sheel of the person I once was.

If I knew a painless surefire way to kill myself I'd be dead by now.