Aspirin as Effective as Imitrex?

That’s what a press release on a study presented yesterday at the European Headache Federation’s 8th Annual Congress proclaims. Mind you, the study was presented at the “New Reasons for Aspirin in Headache” symposium, which was sponsored by Bayer. And the press release was written by Bayer. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the findings, does it?

The press release caught my attention because I met a new friend yesterday who told me that her life-saving drugs were triptans and aspirin for her bad headaches and aspirin when her daily headache get bad. She’s the only person I’ve talked to who has had such success with aspirin.

Similarly, With all the drugs I’ve tried, Advil is still my best abortive. Do any of you have a like experience with a basic OTC analgesic?

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Walking the Tightrope

I have errands to run. I’m wiped out a little headachy. Perhaps that’s because I have run errands, cleaned, gardened, painted and sanded in the last three days. But I’ve also read, talked on the phone and watched baseball, which I thought would count toward staving off exhaustion.

No matter how well I think I ration my energy, I keep falling off the tightrope. Last week was as busy as this week, except that I didn’t rest at all. Last Wednesday I was drained and spent most of the day reading. Thursday I had a killer headache. I thought I did better this week, but the results are the same.

There are all sorts of metaphors for not depleting oneself (energy units, points, credits, spoons, marbles, dollars). These are great guiding principles; it’s putting them into practice that’s tough. I can list everything I do and try to assign worth to each one, but where do those values come from?

Will going to Macy’s, the appliance store (still looking for a range that fits), and the natural foods store have equal costs? Should I take fluorescent lighting and my expected level of frustration into account? Is the value of stopping at the tea shop on the way home positive or negative?

Even though I’m a Libra, balance has always eluded me. When it’s baked goods and multiple cappuccinos in one day, this isn’t too bad. When it’s my body, pain and happiness, I need to exchange the net under the tightrope for a trampoline.

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“Potheads and Sudafed,” a New York Times Editorial

“Potheads and Sudafed,” a NY Times editorial that ran yesterday, caught the attention (and raised the ire) of About.com’s headache page guide, Teri Robert. The article addresses issues raised by the FDA’s denial of medicinal marjiuana’s efficacy. Columnist John Tierney writes of the conundrum:

Officially, the D.E.A. says it wants patients to get the best medicine. But look at what it’s done to scientists trying to study medical marijuana. They’ve gotten approval for their experiments from the F.D.A., but they can’t get the high-quality marijuana they need because the D.E.A. won’t allow it to be grown. The F.D.A. actually wants to know if the drug works, but the D.E.A. is following the just-say-know-nothing strategy: as long as researchers can’t study marijuana, they can’t come up with evidence that it’s effective.

And as long as there’s no conclusive evidence that medical marijuana works, the D.E.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill can go on blindly fighting it. Representative Mark Souder, the Indiana Republican who’s the most rabid drug warrior in Congress, has been pressuring the F.D.A. to crack down on medical marijuana. Last week the agency finally relented: in return for not having to start busting anyone, it issued a statement stressing the potential dangers and lack of extensive clinical trials establishing medical marijuana’s effectiveness.

For more information about the DEA’s stance, see this post.

FYI: The article is only available on the Times site if you have a paid subscription, but you can probably use your public library card to read it in a full-text newspaper database online. (The database I used is called ProQuest and I accessed it trhough the magazine and newspaper section of the library’s databases. These specific details are only applicable through my library, of course, but I hope they help you navigate your library’s website.)

Sugar: Not Just for Mary Poppins

A patient’s perception of a doctor can change instantaneously when the doc treats them like a person, not a collection of symptoms. The switch from view the doc as a cold clinician to a caring (or at least attentive) human being is sometimes all that it takes to get the relationship — and thus the health care plan — back on track.

Abigail Zuger describes this experience from an MD’s point of view:

“But with experience came the knowledge that, without those clichés and innumerable others like them, the game is lost before it even begins. When almost every other word out of your mouth is destined to be an unwelcome reminder, dire prediction or insulting remark of some sort, it is really essential to be able to dilute it all with a little harmless verbal goo.”

Dating Your Doctor

Figuring out how much to disclose about your illness requires a balancing act that often feels like the scale is askew. In January, Laurie Edwards shared the story of a cute guy at a party who didn’t run when she disclosed her illness in more detail than she normally would.

She’s since learned that finding a good doctor and finding a good partner have much in common — including how picky one should be about choosing the person you fall in love with.

Laurie writes:

“A first appointment with a new doctor really is the medical equivalent of a first date. It’s all about the chemistry, that intangible sense that this person is worth another look.”

“Think about the ways we’re trained to evaluate first encounters of the romantic kind: Was he (or she) polite and engaging, or brash and curt? Was the other person merely hearing the words coming out of our mouths or actually listening to them? All of these litmus tests apply once you step into that exam room.”

In addition to writing articles for ChronicBabe, Laurie also has her own blog, Chronic Dose.

FDA Takes on Medicinal Marijuana

Yesterday the FDA announced that “no scientific studies” support the efficacy of medicinal marijuana. This statement contradicts the conclusions of a review from the Institute of Medicine, the country’s most prestigous scientific advisory agency. A review that concluded that marijuana is ‘moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.’

Extrapolating from this, it’s an effective treatment for the nausea and vomiting that can accompany migraine. Anecdotally it also alleviates chronic pain.

My blood is boiling. Political ideology vilifies a drug that’s less
harmful than much of what we take to control pain. It can also cause less impairment than some patients experience with opioids.

Scientific data is the crux of the debate. Factions against medicinal marijuana say that no good scientific data exists to support it’s use. Proponents argue that the strict regulations on researching marijuana’s medical use make it impossible to engage in the clinical trials required to develop said scientific data.

The NY Times article examines both sides of the debate. I admit that it’s biased toward my view, but I think it makes a good argument. Unfortunately, the man in the picture that accompanies the story looks more like he’s at a smoky bar, enjoying a good high. Thus illustrating that artistic photography can undermine a well-presented argument.

Update, 10:14 a.m.: Typepad, the blogging tool that I use, creates a post’s permanent URL from the title of the post. For this post, it’s “fda_takes_on_me.” If only I wielded that much power.

A Doozy

I’ve been in horrendous pain for the last 12 hours, so I won’t be posting today. I hope to be back tomorrow.

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