Bachmann: the problem is under control

Michelle Bachmann has responded to the news story about her migraines, saying that the problem is treated with medications and that it does not affect her functioning. However, that assurance does not dispense with the statements from ex-aides that her migraines do affect her functioning.

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Alexis Zarkov writes:

I can speak to the subject of migraine headaches from experience. At one time I suffered as many as two per week, and several times I became incapacitated for several days. Uncontrolled and frequent migraines would severely impact ability of a president to discharge his duties. Virtually anything can trigger a migraine including stress. A president with daily migraines couldn’t do the job. However migraines can be treated, and they are no longer a problem for me. I found a medication that’s close to 100 percent effective in aborting a migraine attack. Here are the options for a migraine sufferer:

1. Biofeedback. I mastered the technique perfectly, but it proved useless.

2. Acupuncture. I use this in addition to medication. Extremely effective and completely harmless. For pain control, acupuncture works. No one knows why. A president could get daily treatments, and it’s possible this would be enough.

3. Narcotic analgesics such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. These are controlled substances and are addictive. However the problems with these drugs are exaggerated. A responsible person could use them for long periods without problems. Some doctors are afraid to prescribe them for patients who would benefit greatly. Using these medications would make a politican vulnerable to attacks. Look at what happened to Rush Limbaugh. Again you need the right doctor. One who will give you enough of a supply to keep you going. While initially effective, both medications became useless for me.

4. Triptans (serotonin receptor agonists). A class of drugs that have proven extremely effective in treating migraines. Some brand names are Zomig, Maxalt, Imitrix, Frova, Relpax, Axert. These are not identical. Maxalt was useless and if anything made me worse. But one (expensive) works perfectly for me. As long as the drug remains effective, migraine are no longer a problem. It’s very important to find a doctor who will try everything for you until something works. Many doctors give up without trying. Remember doctors are well-trained technicians, not scientists, and often have little capability for analytical thought.

5. Beta blockers. For more intractable sufferers. Side effects.

6. There are many other medications, and some considered first-line defenses.

In my opinion and experience, the doctors in the Washington, D.C. area are not the among the best. For example, Ronald Reagan should have gotten a colonoscopy far sooner than it he did. His doctors did not examine the far end of his colon, which is where his tumor was. In fairness to his doctors, Reagan might have rejected a colonoscopy because he didn’t want to be sedated. My own experience with D.C. area doctors was dreadful. They did me no harm because I wouldn’t let them. I took the train to New York and used my old doctor from when I lived there. What a difference.

Unless Bachmann has her migraines under control, she needs to seek out a real expert. She needs a neurologist who specializes in migraines, and who will work with her until the problem is fixed. Otherwise this could kill her chance to be president. She needs to get treated and make a full and complete disclosure to end rumor mongering. My doctor is the world’s expert on migraines, and would be a good choice.

Laura G. writes:

I see that there has been a useful account from another migraine sufferer about Michelle Bachmann, migraines, and that she should get them under control. My personal story is similar, and there was a period when I was frequently having to cancel everything and lie uselessly on the office floor. All that came to an abrupt end when a truly miraculous drug was developed. Within about five minutes of taking a single pill, the migraine was completely gone, and I was fine. That remains true to this day, some 20 years later. Prior to that, the treatments were limited and several were very toxic. Now, a single oral pill solves the attack without any side effects.

My comment has to do with the development of medical knowledge. While the anti-migraine pill is the closest thing to a miracle that there is, the pathway to the miracle was long, full of potholes, and very, very, very expensive. As it happened, I was working at the company that discovered the drug while it was being developed for clinical use, and I had the privilege of sitting in on many of the meetings which were working on means of overcoming the various hurdles. A fuller account would make an engrossing saga, and this is not the place to list them, but please do believe that there were many problems, each had to be throughly explored, and many threatened the future of the entire endeavor.

The long and the short is that I have never been the slightest bit tempted to complain about the prices of drugs. As most of us already know, for every successful drug that emerges into clinical use, a large number of other drugs had also gone through an expensive development phase but had had to be discarded from further exploration and with no compensation to the company. Because of the strength of the U.S, pharmaceutical culture, it may have appeared to the public that there is an automatic and endless pipeline of needed new drugs that become available when needed. Currently, however, the assumption of the pipeline is more and more at risk of failing us. Vaccine production and development has shrunk to a tiny fraction of what it used to be, and the development of new antibiotics and anti-viral in slim. These require very advanced laboratories for their development, are again extremely expensive, and there is more and more reluctance to invest the needed funds into that future. In short, for myself I have benefitted massively from the earlier decisions of a drug company to invest in the control of migraines, but there are many unsolved medical needs, and in this era of tight and narrow regulatory and payment planning I wonder if there will be the willingness and ability to take them on also.

Prayers for all who need help,


Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 19, 2011 09:54 PM | Send

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