More Migraine & Headache Doctors

We need your voice in advocacy. Help us reach key members of Congress and encourage them to support an amendment to a bill that will provide funding for training of new pain medicine, addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry and headache medicine providers.

Click here to reach out to YOUR member of Congress:

#HOH2020 #HeadacheontheHill #ChronicMigraine #MigraineAwareness #AHDA

March will be better?

This has been a difficult cycle/phase. I’m sure starting with the holidays in November, and cedar season, following with the most wonderful event of our son’s wedding in early January. That took me a solid 4 weeks to recover. Which, while worth every minute, is a ridiculous amount of time.

With Headache on the Hill last week, I feel I’m still in recovery cycle… maybe another week? The weather is rainy and gross. My thyroid numbers are finally stable from my Emgality flop last Spring.

I’m puttering along… flaring with migraine or RA everyday. Pain, pain, pain, more pain, light sensitivity, nausea, hot flash, pain, pain, lethargy, worse lethargy. Opressive feelings of guilt, inadequacy, uselessness, burden to those I love. Facing the big question: do I have enough energy to shower? Wash my hair? Put on clothes or makeup? It’s terribly depressing and sad that my life has shrunk to the size of a tiny fishbowl. Just a fish, swimming in my bowl, ready to flip belly-up and float.

Trying to push through, rest as much as I can, hide as much of my disabilities as I can – because they are so embarrassing. Trying to focus on the important things and the good moments. Moments. It’s all life is… those moments.

November, December, January, February… bust. Maybe March will be better? I’m sure March will be better. 🌞 Or maybe April…?🌞🌞

#ChronicMigraine #MigraineAwareness

djk #MyBeautifulMigraine #invisibleillness

Migraines and marriage…

How to Cope When Your Wife Has Migraines

This is a great article. It’s not exactly Marc and my experience… but it’s great advice: #1 Love your wife, HATE the migraine. There is SO MUCH MORE I’d do… if I could. #2 Never take it personally… pain and chronic pain and frustration makes even the most lovely person act “off.”

(P.S. I love when you wear cologne, Honey Baby!)

Our shelves are full of wonderful memories:

2005, I was diagnosed with depression but my migraines were still episodic.
2019, all my babies grown and amazing big people: kind, smart, nurturing, driven.

But some of my favorite pictures are the ones where I’m struggling and my Marc is right there WITH me…

Marc always gets me new ice packs! He never complains no matter how frequently I need to ask. ❤
This was a Fourth of July celebration… and one of my Thunderclap migraines. Often, when I just CANNOT face social events due to pain, he will go on his own. It makes me SO happy that at least he can go! He’ll text me while he’s there, making me feel a part!

And the myriad of appointments he has attended with me…

In this life, I can honestly say… I have known such a Great Love and True Soul Mate…

I love you, always & forevermore.

When Migraine shocks me

Today the migraine has continued to intensify… despite migraine medication, rest, and medication.

My head is easily a thousand degrees and my ice just sizzles and loses its chill after only a short time of contact with my skin. I’m nauseous but I must eat. If I don’t, the medication will do seriously bad things to my body. I’m so hot, even though it’s a normal temperature in the house. When I must move, I shuffle blindly. Everywhere the light is too bright, my entire body hurts and the throbbing pain and vertigo makes me terribly clumsy.

There’s no real reason for this migraine. And it’s just shocking; how can this be happening? My nervous system is just a an asshole. This started as a 4 this morning. Now at 4, it’s an 8. I have ice packs on both the back and front of my head, I’m sprawled in bed trying to find some decent position, I’ve gotten into pajamas.

I had plans today… house cleaning, laundry, making dinner, watching my new show tonight. I wanted to do them all. I wanted to visit with my family.

It’s all gone. All of it. Now I’m just a million degrees and trying not to hurl.

This day is a COMPLETE WASTE … devoured and savoured slowly Chronic Migraine. It sucks x ♾. I have no idea how to survive this madness.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. 🌞 Probably. 🌞

#ChronicMigraine #MigraineAwareness #SpeakYourMigraine

The Burden of Migraine #HOH2020

What was our mission?

Addressing and ending the headache doctor shortage. The US has less than 1/6 the number of headache doctors it needs. By passing bill H.R.3414 and S.2892 and amending language to “approved headache fellowships,” instead of “residencies.”

With so few specialists, suffering patients must wait weeks and months for an appointment… in that untreated time, attacks can become chronic, symptoms worsen, and patients receive improper treatment. Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy #AHDA is asking for support of this bill – the Opioid Workforce Act – which is bipartisan. Because no one wants opioids around, right? Well… not quite. But while opioids are an amazing tool for pain, they aren’t at all the first choice for effective treatment of migraine.

150+ migraine and headache disorder advocates and medical professionals, representing 45 states.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Washington DC? In my life before, I was a political junkie and would have loved serving the people of America.
Team Texas: Casey Davis (Livingston), Ashley Razook (Austin), Donna Kobayashi, RN (Austin), Kelley Thiede (Arlington), Katie Pearson Mahaffey (Euless) and Gunner the Service Dog, Duren Michael Ready, MD (Temple). Dr. Ready is the program director of the Central Texas Headache Fellowship at Baylor Scott & White in Temple, Texas. Photo of our group enjoying a Dr Pepper in Sen Ted Cruz’s office before meeting the Senator.

This was my first year advocating at Headache on the Hill. I knew it would be amazing, but also push me to the very edges of my limits handling stress and stimuli. Dr. Ready was a HOH pro; he knew exactly where everything was and was amazing at explaining the legislation to staffers and representatives.

The day before in training (Monday) when I asked us all to tell our stories and get to know one another, someone asked him why he chose to go into headache medicine. To which he replied: “Among many other specialties, I found I can help headache patients get better.” (cue emotion: Donna immediately tears up at this)

We really were a good team at Headache on the Hill, if I do say so myself. I have indescribable admiration for these four absolutely amazing women who live with migraine disorder. Each of them have a story of horrible pain and symptoms, loss, and grief, but also a powerful determination to find the medical treatment they deserve to help them live their best life, with this disabling illness.

I was the last one to share my story at our impromptu round table at training day. After hearing each woman describe her journey and how it devastated her life, when it was my turn to share, I couldn’t stop the tears. Overcome, I felt quite ridiculous weeping and trying to get the words out of the story I’ve lived. Typical Donna and not my finest hour (and tears would not be helpful on Capitol Hill during our meetings with staffers and reps). Dr. Ready even remarked that Chronic Migraine patients have a disheveled and overstimulated nervous system; tears and sobbing do NOT help our condition. How many times have I mentioned that when I found myself progressing from episodic to chronic, I was noticing my nervous system seemed to be on rails all the time?

While I was embarrassed about my sob-fest, one thing Chronic Migraineurs often show an abundance of is EMPATHY; my fellow Texans were just … SO kind and understanding. And I assured them I would keep composure the following day. *Donna blows nose*

Back to our first Capitol Hill visit with Senator Ted Cruz and his staffers… Dr. Ready explained the process of becoming a headache specialist (med school, residency, and finally pain specialty or headache disorder fellowships), the specifics of S.2892 and ammendment of language. He then would turn to Casey, Katie, Kelly, Ashley and me and say, “These brave women – all struggling with migraine disorder – have traveled all the way from Texas to DC to tell their stories.” The staffer would look to us and one of us would start speaking, then another would join in. It was as if we’d known each other forever… we could build on stories, explain how they pertained to our ASK today, our personal frustrations and dead-ends with present medical care, the impact of migraine disease on our lives, careers, family. No one dominated the conversation… we simply talked. I tried to find out what the staffer’s personal experience with migraine was – so we could establish a frame of reference. And I also pointed out that we are TEXAS and should be the BEST at everything.

At one meeting, Dr. Ready caught me off-guard when he explained (a fact I already knew) that migraine disorder was particularly devastating since it almost always strikes ~ ages 18-55 (mostly women), when people are in the very prime of their life: working their careers, raising their families, living.

This statement struck my heart and my last 12 years of Chronic Migraine flooded my mind: my children only remembering me sick, no longer being able to practice as a nurse, the financial collapse my migraines have caused our family. (A deep breath in, hand to my heart, and just a few tears…)

Senator Ted Cruz
Senator John Cornyn (staffer)
Congressman Roger Williams (staffer)
Congressman Kenny Merchant (met with staffer)

We walked over 10,000 steps through hallowed halls of hard tile, rainy wet streets of DC, in and out of security and different buildings (Rayburn, Longworth, Russel), up and down stairs and tiny old elevators. We had five meetings with legislators and staff and talked and talked and talked some more.

And where was my Migraine during this very busy day? A low level (thanks to adrenaline)… but complete with nausea and vertigo and bad photo sensitivity. Headache on the Hill is quite an assault on the senses: loud, echoey, hundreds of people, unfamiliar environment, varying temperatures, physically and emotionally demanding … and, yes, definitely, wonderfully rewarding. I feel bonded to new friends from Texas and the rest of the country, and I would love to return next year for the 14th annual Headache on the Hill. We will follow with the contacts we made and the ASK bill in the great hopes of improving treatment for the thousands of people living with migraine and headache disorders.

How can you help?

1) Contact your senator to urge support of S.2892 and ammendment language from residency to fellowships.

2) Contact your representative to urge support of H.R.3414 and ammendment language from residency to fellowships.

3) Consider a donation to help support AHDA and our annual Headache on the Hill event. No amount is too small. Donate link:

4) Consider attending Headache on the Hill in the future!

My friends and Migraine mates for life:

Katie Mahaffey is a brilliant young woman who has struggled with Chronic Migraine since she was a teen. She also has POTS and Ehlers-Danlos. She’s trained Gunner to assist her as she struggles with syncope episodes several times a week. Many Texas doctors have rejected her as a patient and she now travels to Chicago for medical care.
Kelley Thiede is an amazing woman. Her migraine journey began with a growth on her optic nerve and commenced after an ENT procedure. It has taken her 10 years to find a doctor who’s been truly able to help her establish some control over migraine, continue her career and have meaningful time spent with her daughter.
Casey Davis is an incredible woman who lives outside of Houston. Her migraine journey has devastated her life, but she still pushes through and is able to work while enjoying time with her husband.
Ashley Razook is a fellow Austinite! We both are patients of Austin Neurocare and Sara Westgate MD and Mariah Denney PA. Ashley’s migraine journey started quite suddenly as she woke one day with a terrible headache that has never gone away. She has sought treatment all over the country. Well-spoken, bright and articulate, she is quite impressive and continues to work from home.
Ashley, Katie and Gunner prepare before our next meeting.
Lunch panel discussion hosted by The Headache & Migraine Policy Forum

Our day started at 07:45 and we finally returned to our hotel at about 18:00 hours. I was so exhausted and flaring that I could only call for room service dinner of chicken panini and hot chocolate, get ice for my head, take medicine and go to sleep!

The following day, Wednesday, I said my heartfelt goodbyes and traveled back home to Austin, my babies, and my loving husband. Thursday I wasn’t able to get out of bed for migraine and RA insane pain. Recovery will happen! But it may not happen quickly. This is the life of Chronic Migraine. I am so grateful to have been a part of this amazing experience of Headache on the Hill 2020… to have met with our country’s legislators, worked with medical professionals intent on advocating for their headache and migraine patients, and communed with so many inspirational migraine patient advocates! I never saw this MIGRAINE life coming, never anticipated the way it would mangle my dreams and shrink my life. But I’ve learned there are thousands like me; I am not alone. And there is HOPE.

#ChronicMigraine #MigraineAwareness #CMA #ARMS #invisibleillness #MigraineAdvocate

Headache on the Hill 2020 Monday training

#ChronicMigraine #MigraineAwareness #CMA
It’s happening! Today was training… tomorrow we’re ON The Hill. It’s not a competition, but if it were, everyone would want a piece of Team Texas⭐, jus sayin! We have Gunner the service dog, trained for medical emergency!🐕⚕
This is bipartisan all the way… asking for positions for more doctors to specialize treating Chronic Migraine. Our population is under served… we are… suffering and stigmatized.
See ya tomorrow, Ted Cruz!

With my awesome migraine roommate Jenny McPherson, representing Connecticut. Starbucks coffee in hand… there will be lots of learning today!
Meeting new Migraine friends – from all over the country: Connecticut, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas.
Reconnecting with old Migraine friends: my girl Michelle Tracy from Massachusetts, The Migraine Warrior. ❤
⭐Team Texas: Dr. Ready, Ashley, Kelly, Donna, Casey, Katie, and Gunner!🐕⚕⭐
Over 150 advocates and medical professionals from 45 states!
Table #22: the Lone Star State⭐

Enjoying meeting each other 💜❤💜

Gunner, sweet German boy🐕⚕
Chronic Migraine Awareness – Advocates Removing Migraine Stigma… our FIRST in person RALLY event! Ohmygosh, so fun and WONDERFUL to talk and celebrate IRL with these legendary Migraine Advocates #MigraineAdvocates
#CMA #ARMS Rally!