How can we gain empowerment over our migraine headaches even if we sometimes break the rules of prevention?


What if you go ahead and drink alcohol at a party and end up with a migraine attack the next day? You “broke one of the rules” of migraine prevention. But you can still feel empowered to recognize what happened, go ahead and take your acute medication, and know that you are not a victim.


“So this isn't about, you have to follow every single one of these rules to the T and if you don't then you need to just not do any of them and give up on them. It's not like that. What this is about is empowerment. So this is about empowering the patient to recognize "You know what, tonight I'm at a party and I really want to drink that one glass of wine but I know my body and I might end up paying for it tomorrow morning." But still when you wake up the next morning and even if you end up having a migraine attack at that point, you know what happened. So you're empowered and you're like "Yeah you know it was a great party I had my wine. I do have my migraine attack, I need to get out my rescue pack and take my as needed medication." But you still don't feel as much as a victim of your disease but rather you feel more empowered and in control of your neurobiological disorder.”


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Amaal J. Starling, MD, FAHS, FAAN

Mayo Clinic, Arizona

Dr. Amaal J. Starling is an associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. She joined the Mayo Clinic in 2012 and is currently a consultant within the Department of Neurology. Dr. Starling received her medical degree from the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She completed a transitional year residency, a neurology residency, and a headache fellowship at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Starling is an active member of numerous migraine advocacy organizations, including the American Headache Society (AHS), the American Migraine Foundation, and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). She is also involved in events supporting migraine, including Headache on the Hill, Miles for Migraine, and the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy. Dr. Starling is currently serving on the AHS Board of Directors and is the chair of the AHS Advocacy Committee and a member of the AHS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce. Dr. Starling has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the AHS Above and Beyond Award for Service, Manfred D. Muenter Award for Excellence in Clinical Neurology, the AAN Annual Meeting Residency Scholarship, the 2012 Spirit of Mayo Clinic Award, and the Mayo Brothers Distinguished Fellowship Award.

Dr. Starling has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and abstracts related to her fields of interest, which include migraine, concussion, post-traumatic headache, neuromodulation, and telemedicine. Dr. Starling’s hope is that her research and advocacy will advance care for people with migraine, post-traumatic headache, and other headache disorders. She envisions a future in which all people with headache disorders receive personalized, effective, and well-tolerated treatment options to improve their quality of life.

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