Hello lovely peoples, today I shall be handing over to the fearless and feisty Maggie Austin. You may recognise Maggie from past posts such as 'WHAT DOES A MIGRAINE LOOK LIKE' - but today she's writing about Botox for Chronic Migraine patients and a campaign she's recently launched that needs all of our support!
Over to you Maggie!
I’m Maggie, I’m 24 and I go to Derby University. I’m studying psychology and I think I want to specialise in something to do with pain management and neurology. Wasn’t my original plan but I think my Chronic Migraines have changed my perception of what I want to do.
|A self portrait of Maggie|
|And her kitten Ella Freud!|
Botox – Commonly known as being used to look younger, plumper and kind of funny looking if you use too much.
I’m guessing at least some of you migrainures out there will know of its other use however. Botox is now an officially approved treatment for Chronic Migraines on the NHS. Of course this is subject to some very strict and also a bit ridiculous guidelines. Namely being, 15 headaches a month, 8 of which are migraines; this part is not ridiculous. It gets a bit stupid once you’ve actually started having the treatment, after 2 treatments 3 months apart you have to have improved by a third, but still meet those original criteria or you are no longer deemed as chronic and can, therefore, no longer qualify for the treatment.
I have all this yet to come.
I have been suffering with different variations of migraine for the last 7 years. In the last 2 years I have not gone a day without some form of headache/migraine. I have tried every treatment my doctor and a local neurologist could think of.
So I went to the, quite frankly, AMAZI NG National Migraine Centre – a wonderful charity that offers specialist help to all of us sufferers while merely asking for a donation. I spoke with one of the specialists there and explained the fact that everyone was out of ideas, and how difficult regular life had become, especially the fact that every time I saw someone who wasn’t my regular doctor I got accused of Medication Overuse Headaches (MOH).
He was incredibly understanding and after some discussion he informed me that I don’t suffer from MOH and I am, in fact, just a Chronic Migraine sufferer. He suggested Botox, telling me that he believed in treating a problem at its source whenever possible. One of the most reassuring things about the whole conversation was him telling me that my problem is, in fact, fixable… not a word I ever expected to hear about my migraines.
Downside – it turns out it is actually easier to have surgery than to get Botox on the NHS. Not only are very few NHS doctors trained in how to do it for migraines (I’m opting to have mine at the National Migraine Centre), but you also first have to get your Primary Care Trust to actually approve the funding for it! NICE guidelines state that they have 18 weeks, but apparently they like to drag their heels, so the only way to get it in that period is to kick up a fuss.
|Points at which Botox can be injected (but it does differ)|
I personally am quite inclined to do that; they will have a very difficult time ignoring me. My concern is for those who aren’t quite as feisty as me, but still need this treatment. Hence why I am trying to stir up a bit of trouble to see if we can get people to hear that. I have already been in touch with my local MP – whom I have yet to hear back from, but I’m not surprised. I let them off over Christmas but now they'll have to put up with me all over again!
I have also started an online petition to try and get someone to take notice of this issue, so help me get involved:
The NHS seems to have a rather dismissive attitude towards us and we really need to change that (I sound like I’m rallying a protest or something! Anyone got any picket signs?!).
WHO’S WITH ME?!
Go Maggie!!! I'm with you!!! I know that we all got quite over-excited once NICE said Botox would be available for Chronic Migraine patients on the NHS but, as you can see from the above, it's not quite as simple as it sounds. There are strict criteria to meet before you can even have round 1. So let's all sign this petition as I know several Chronic Migraineurs who have got their lives back thanks to Botox...
To book an appointment at The National Migraine Centre simply call: 020 7251 3322. A migraine specialist will work with you to tailor a treatment plan to meet your needs. A GP referral is not needed and payment is via donation as the Centre is a charity, most major Private Insurance Policies are accepted if seeing The Medical Director.
Here is the Centre's fact sheet on Botox
The December News Letter (featuring an article on getting Botox on the NHS)