Cindy McCain Takes Migraines to the Disability Forefront
What some media sources have called her “coming out”, Mrs. McCain’s public speaking on her migraine condition signified a monumental step for the poised Senator’s wife, who hadn’t even told her husband about her condition until 10 years ago.
Mrs. McCain’s secretive tendencies over her condition were spurned in large part to a borrage of doctors failing to take her severe headaches seriously, often labeling her a neurotic, over-stressed, and worthy of a simple aspirin remedy. As Mrs. McCain weighs in in an interview with Neurology Now (May/June 2010, Vol. 6, Iss. 3), “If I — as a prominent person — was being brushed off by doctors, what about the mother of four in a small rural community whose migraines are never taken seriously?”
During her public speaking, Mrs. McCain has spoken openly about remembering her grandmother suffering from “headaches,” a fact she and her doctor believe is an indicator of the genetic component of her migraines. McCain’s grandmother died before McCain was officially diagnosed with migraines. In fact, Mrs. McCain wasn’t diagnosed until she was 40, a decade after her migraines had actually developed, following her hysterectomy. Studies have shown that hormonal changes can bring about on migraines. McCain own migraines are accompanied by excruciating pain, auras, ringing in her ears, nausea, and even temporary loss of eye sight. All these symptons have been known to be linked to stroke in women, who are three times more likely to have them than men.
The financial implications of the costs of treatment for migraines cannot be ignored as its staggering expenses equally competes with the financial costs to that of some widely recognized disabilities. Mrs. McCain campaigned with these statistics at Capital hill last year, citing that migraine sufferers spent $20 billion dollars a year in lost work time and medical expenses; this compared to the $13 million dollars spent by Congress to research the “disease.” The World Health Organization also estimates that migraines cause more lost years of healthly life in the United States annually than multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ovarian cancer, and tuberculosis combines. These kinds of staggering estimates means that research dollars spent on the aforementioned disorders is more than 117 times greater than that spent on migraine research (Childers, p 18)
McCain stresses that while treatment for migraines has advanced significantly over the past ten years, the bigger battle to receving appropriate treament is proper diagnosis.
You can read more on migraines and McCain’s efforts for public awareness on the condition in her interview with Neurology Now, either via this article page (a printable version of the article is also available via this page), or in its printed format in Neurology Now, May/June 2010 Vol. 6 Iss. 3 (pg. 16-19).
For more information on migraines, what they are, how this affects disabilty rights, and where to turn to for help, visit M.A.G.N.U.M. or simply type migraines.org in your web browser.
According to Dr. David, Dodick, M.D., professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, A.Z., in an interview in Neurology Now (May/June 2010), a migraine is a headache usually described as “throbbing” or “pulsing”. It most commonly occurs on one side of the head and is felt to be coming from behind the eye., temple, or ear. Migraines can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. Some of the most common symptoms associates with migraines include sensitivity to light (photophobia) and/or sound (phonophobia), nausea, and vomiting.
For more information on the condition, or to find a neurologist or specialist skilled in diagnosis and management of headache disorders, contact the “American Headache Society (americanheadachesociety.org or 856-423-0043) or the American Council on Headache Education (achenet.org). You can also search online with the American Academy of Neurology’s “Find a Neurologist” tool at patients.aan.com/findaneurologist.