8. Alternative Practitioners 1

8. Alternative Practitioners 1

4 March 2024

‘Your migraines will go if you are ready to let them go!’ Alternative speak for it’s your fault.

Anyone with a condition probably thinks there must be a person or therapy waiting to change her life. The reason: we know the world would prefer we were normal. And so, hope gorges on pain.

I have had acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, herbalism, reiki, kinesiology, the Bowen technique, and have embraced them all totally. I have not been to Lourdes, kissed statues or draped myself in religious medals as that requires a different class of faith. But I have bought a paingone gadget, attempted to exclude ‘harmful’ light with specialised glasses and hung a light-filtering shield over my computer screen.

Alternative practitioners, in addition to their specialty, offer time, but alas only to those who can pay. And, like all medicine, the placebo effect operates, and this is an important element of healing acknowledged by doctors, researchers and patients. For these reasons, my first encounter with a healer or medication is likely to be positive. For me, almost anyone medical showing an interest becomes messianic. I believe utterly. I follow. I obey. To start with.

Yet deep within me I suspect my condition is so complex, so utterly me, that whatever they attempt, it will be so far from the essence of the thing, it is sure to fail. Plus, they have no idea what they are looking at and even less idea that they have no idea. They are dealing with my soul. All migraineurs have a lot of symptoms in common, yet each condition is unique. I have come to believe that my migraines are more akin to autism than anything medicine can heal. In common parlance, it’s the way I am wired. The part that saves me when I am overloaded. Admittedly it could do this in a more pleasant way. But I have learnt to live with it.

I also believe that we all have an area that cracks under pressure which we need to manage. The fact that we may have no idea what this is, tells me that we have an unrealistic expectation of wellness. It’s a cliché to say migraines have taught me a lot. Yet this is true. I am fit and healthy because I have to be.

During the hours I have spent with migraine, my brain has been active particularly once the pain subsides a little. I have had more chance than many to contemplate, and have always valued this.

Unlike alternative practitioners, GPs can seldom offer time. These days talking to doctors is so rationed it has become a great barrier to healing. I know I can be cogent (ish) when I write, but as soon as I get into a surgery and am time constrained, I sometimes become a babbling fool. I believe that very few of us manage to say what we are truly feeling and thinking at least a proportion of the time, and that varies from person to person, situation to situation, and gender, class and colour are all involved in how and how much we are heard. But the doctor’s time is so precious for obvious reasons, that I gabble as a matter of course. Or worse I weep as though bearing the curse of Niobe. Yet my role as the describer is vital.

This led to my writing this:

Communicating is tricky

This year I’ve decided to learn to talk
To myself
That way – once I’ve got the hang of it
And do it so well I don’t know I’m doing it
– as the Zen Buddhists advise –
I can branch out and begin talking to
Well … the island, the country, the world
(but not her husband just yet)

The language won’t be critical
Words – I’ve heard – are only vessels
For ferrying feeling from A to B

Be that as it may
And it may very well not be
My words must be sturdy,
Sturdy and aerodynamic
Capable of great distances without deteriorating
Without arriving battered, tired and (god forbid) breaking up

Whatever the divide, each sound must travel
Floating into conversations
Gliding over doctor’s desks
Slipping round bureaucratic hurdles
Diverting message-bearing missiles

Without once jogging or working out in the gym
Each syllable will be fit
Not bristling muscularly or sagging flabbily
But dancing
In the lightest coat of humour
The finest veil of drama
Each sound leaping into depths,
Diving to heights,
Lightening every pulse
Exciting thought with grace

Last year I taught myself to read
Next year I’d like to learn to swim
But this year
This year I’m going to learn to talk
To myself

© Pauline Dowling, February 1989

Credit: Photo by Frank Cone

Related Posts

12. The positives outweigh the negatives

12. The positives outweigh the negatives

I often say I have two great loves, yoga and migraines, as both have taught me so much. The well world disbelieves my claim about migraine. Yoga yes; migraine no. While it is true this condition has orchestrated my life in often inconvenient ways, it […]

11. EMDR and antidepressants

11. EMDR and antidepressants

Stress is often said to be a trigger for migraines and while this can be so, it is unhelpful and vague. Stress! What is that? One woman’s stress is another woman’s spur to action! I always prefer overload. And then, because migraine is complicated and […]